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Great Yarmouth's outer harbour taking shape

PUBLISHED: 07:09 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:22 06 July 2010

Yarmouth outer harbour taking shape

Yarmouth outer harbour taking shape

The scurrying of super-sized excavators around a dust-bowl site tells the story.

The first ship may have already christened Yarmouth's £80m outer harbour, but it won't be until the beginning of November that the port will in practical terms be open for business.

The scurrying of super-sized excavators around a dust-bowl site tells the story.

The first ship may have already christened Yarmouth's £80m outer harbour, but it won't be until the beginning of November that the port will in practical terms be open for business. However, on the EDP's first visit to the construction site yesterday to see work in progress, the scale of what has been achieved so far became strikingly apparent.

Recently-arrived twin container cranes, being commissioned by a crew from Shanghai, tower over the deep blue harbour - currently the only area of calm on the site.

Where once there was sea, some 60 acres of reclaimed land, sucked out of the harbour basin to create its 10m depth, stretch out from the South Denes peninsula.

Forty-three barge-loads of black granite from Larvik, in Norway, have all but been deposited to form the breakwaters, with only a small pile of rocks still stored at the edge of the site. An excavator was yesterday positioning some of the last of these at the toe of the slope to prevent wave action damaging the breakwater.

Clerk of works Robert Coulbert, who has overseen engineering projects around the world, said: “The rock placement may look haphazard but it is being placed to an accuracy of 20mm using a hi-tech, three-dimensional positioning system.”

More than 70 men are still working 12-hour days on site for contractor Edmund Nuttall, but activity was even more intense last winter.

“Then, work was going on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There were three weeks in January and February when it was barely above zero, which is not ideal for laying concrete, but we developed heated tents and heated coverings to keep going,” Mr Coulbert explained.

Yarmouth Port Company chief executive Eddie Freeman said that, although the harbour had originally been scheduled to open a month earlier, the delay had been planned for good reason.

He said: “Back last year, we decided to invest £14m in a further 350m of quay, and that is going to make the port much more flexible in what we can handle.”

As well as the container terminal, there was 550m for general cargo and still space to accommodate a roll-on, roll-off ferry berth.

Mr Freeman conceded that it was difficult to sell what remained as a construction site to potential customers. But he underlined the tremendous achievement in realising at last a project for which Norfolk had been waiting decades.

“This is great new for Yarmouth. It is going to be here for 150 years at least,” he said.

Over the summer, a paved apron will be put in place behind the 400m quay, part-occupied by the PSA container terminal, and a road will be built from the quay around the site perimeter.

A site on the other side of the road, next to the old Omni-Pac factory that will shortly become the port offices, is being prepared as a container storage area.

Within months, the harbour mouth end of South Beach Parade will be stopped up to public traffic.

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