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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Harbour of Sand

Here's a view from around 1850. Nothing new about sand in the main harbour, clearly. And yet, when management of sailing ships was the norm, they seemed to manage...

Ramsgate Harbour

6 comments:

Michael Child said...

At that time the mud and sand banks were intended as a means of stopping sailing ships that would float off at high tide and be moored in the deeper water by the harbour walls. This was regulated by using the sluice gates, to keep the parts of the harbour fee from mud and sand in the areas where navigation was needed at low tide. Were all the harbour to have been deep it would have been no use as a harbour of refuge during storms, no brakes on a sailing ship!
This link should take you to a plan of the harbour (1790s) showing the sluices in greater detail, a lot more cleaver than expensive dredging.

ZumiWeb said...

Thanks for the clarification Michael. A bit like the lorry runaway trap on the hill going down in to Dover - something vaguely appealing about the idea of a sailing ship coming in to harbour too quickly, and the Captain - Keanu Reeves (star of Speed 4 - The Sailing Years) shouting "no brakes, no brakes, head for the sand". It makes sense now, us landlubbers need things explaining now and again - I just thought sand was the mortal enemy of harbours, but clearly that's a more recent thing... your years in a Mirror dinghy were'nt wasted, were they?

Matt B said...

So if dredging is expensive yet sluices are a better idea is there a good reason why we don't use them? (is that asking too much?)

Michael Child said...

The lose stone blocks that were dropped into the sea to form the harbour arms for the sea would prevent them from working properly, sending the sand into Port Ramsgate no out to sea. The whole way that new port Ramsgate was built ill conceived and badly planned, it took no notice of the currents in the bay and has no sand proof membrane.

Michael Child said...

sorry ignore "for the sea" in the last comment, bad cut and paste.

Tony said...

It used to be a wonderful sight to see those sluices in action. Unfortunately I think you'll find them unusable now, since the Council put them out of action decades ago.