Historic Ha'penny Pier undergoes vital repair work

The Pier was the main departure point for boats leaving Harwich Credit: The Harwich Society

The historic Ha’penny Pier in Harwich is currently undergoing essential refurbishment work to maintain its rare all-timber structure.

It’s 15 years since work on this scale was carried out. At least 20 new piles and beams are being fitted in this first phase.

Harwich Haven Authority which owns the pier is always checking the structure. The last major inspection showed they needed to carry out repairs now before they became a problem.

A pleasure boat sets off from the pier Credit: The Harwich Society

“The pier used to be quite a bit longer. In 1927 a lot of it burnt down and the engineers of the time obviously used a lower grade timber to do the repairs and so what we’re finding this time is that a lot of timber we need to replace is that weaker wood which is starting to rot.”

Jim Warner, Harwich Haven Authority

Engineers are having to work around the tide which rises to 4 metres and to the top of their scaffolding. Each beam weighs half a tonne. They arrive by boat and are threaded through very carefully by a crane.

Next Autumn will see phase 2 which will focus on the end of the pier. In total it’s costing around £340,000. The Harwich society are pleased to see investment in this Victorian landmark.

“When it opened it was called the corporation pier but later because of the local people, it was named the Ha’penny pier which was the toll to come onto the pier. This pier was the main departure point for all ships leaving Harwich. Harwich International Port did not exist. That didn’t happen until 1883. So this was the hub of activity for Harwich so it’s very good that we’re seeing it being restored today.

David Whittle, The Harwich Society
The Pier in its heyday Credit: Harwich Society