Felixstowe Pier was built in 1905, the last of a trio or piers constructed for the Coast Development Company in Suffolk. These three piers, the other two based at Southwold and Lowestoft, served the ‘Belle’ Steamer fleet, which endeavored to provide profitable excursions at a time when local steamers faced fierce competition from the increasingly popular railways. Unusual for its time, Felixstowe Pier was created from timber, rather than iron. Developments in ship building had led to foreign timbers, like Jarrah and Greenheart, being used as construction materials, owing to them being more resistant to worm attack and much cost effective.
Once one of the longest piers in Britain, it was complete with electric tramway (3.5ft gauge) that transported passengers and their luggage from end to end. The original cost for a one-way journey was 1 penny. During World War II, when fears over a Hitler invasion raged, many piers including Felixstowe were partly decommissioned by removing the decking or some of the central spans and, in common with several; it was a situation that the pier would never really recover from. The tramway had obviously been suspended and the now isolated seaward end, that had remained neglected throughout the conflict, was considered obsolete. This was subsequently demolished, reducing the pier’s length to a much shorter 450ft (136m).
Design, Construction & Logistics
The majority of the work was tide dependent as access to the pile heads was gained via a ladder at beach level. This could only happen at low tide and working with site management and predicted tide times during the early installation was critical to meeting installation targets.
Where the precast beams meet over the pile heads, projecting end reinforcement was provided to form an insitu connection between adjoining precast beams and the supporting pile. The deck was completed with a structural topping keyed into the roughened top surface of the precast slabs and the projecting reinforcement from the tops of precast beams to form a monolithic base to build the steel frame off.
From a safety aspect, steel safety platforms with handrails were provided at the pile heads. These platforms provided the necessary safety measures for our installation team to land the precast beams on circular steel plates and unchain them from the crane. A handrail boardwalk was provided around the perimeter to access cantilever beams.
Milbank Concrete Beams provide a great alternative to traditional insitu construction offering a number of benefits which include:
- Ability to install in all weather conditions with the benefit of maintaining project program.
- Removing the uncertainty of construction costs.
- Speed –Precast beams can be installed much quicker than Insitu.
- Accurate bearing level – with a precast beam the bearing level will be accurate allowing the following trades to work more quickly and without the same degree of levelling up.
For more information on our precast concrete beams or any other of our precast concrete products, please click here.
About the project
The project took a huge amount of planning and has provided a new landmark and attraction for the resort. Work began on the multi-million pound new pier in November 2016 with the demolition of the original pier building being the first stage.
The Prom was then raised to link the pier bight area to the new pier entrance. The new pier building is now considerably larger than the original one and includes a boardwalk for promenading around the building over the beach and sea. There is now a café and bar that boasts alfresco dining, bowling, a vibrant family entertainment centre and food kiosks to include the perennial seaside favourites of fish & chips and ice cream.
The existing part of the jetty that was closed to the public will remain so, other than the small section that can still be used for crabbing and refreshments from the Boardwalk kiosk.
The development was originally planned as a 73m building with a semi-circular rear part of the pier, which included a function suite seating 325 people, a second story and a shipping observation tower with walkway.
However, this part of the plan had to be removed because of the enormous costs of offshore works.
Pier owner Stan Threadwell said: “If the revamp proves a success, there is every possibility that it could be extended again to include additional features in the years ahead.”
The project completed ahead of schedule and officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday 29th July 2017.