Latest Update from the construction of Littlehampton Sea Defences, the crane climbs onto the bridge

Today, Tuesday 25th February 2014 marked an important milestone in the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences as the especially created Crane Bridge was commissioned.

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe especially created ‘Crane Bridge’ above.

If you’ve just joined us, a quick overview on why the bridge is necessary.

The Project’s engineering team previously discovered that Pier Road is simply not strong enough to take the weight of the 130tonne crane, which is needed to undertake the piling work.  To overcome this problem,  a massive ‘Crane Bridge’ or platform has been designed and constructed to lessen the weight impact on Pier Road.

Today, we witnessed the amazing sight of the 130 tonne crane quite literally driving up an especially created shingle ramp onto the Crane Bridge where it will operate from.

The pictures below detail both the construction of the ramp and the driving of the crane onto the platform.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 1aWork begins on building the crane ramp.

Over 400 tonnes of shingle were needed to build the ramp. Once the piling is finished and the ramp no longer required, the shingle will then be used to back-fill behind the piles, so there’s no extra cost in materials in creating the ramp.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 1The ramp is so high that the roller has to be lifted onto by the crane.

Flood Defences 4Rolling and compacting the shingle to take the 130 tonne crane.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 2Careful attention is taken by VolkerStevin to ensuring the levels are just right.

Littlehampton Flood Defences crane bridgeThe view from the Crane’s bridge, which gives you an idea of both it’s scale and height.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 3Preparations underway to ready both the ramp and the crane bridge.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 4No room for error as the crane is extremely close to the edge.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 5Crane ready to begin its climb.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 6One of VolkerStevin’s engineers gets ready to give the go-ahead.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane climb 1Everyone holds their breath as the crane begins its climb but then the engine stalls leading to some lighthearted banter. The crane is reversed up so as to allow the rear weights take the strain (these are the red blocks at the rear of the crane)

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane climb 2Initial attempts fail as the crane’s heavy duty tracks dig into the aggregate and it’s unable to climb.

Crushing sleepers 1Some sleepers are laid to give the tracks more purchase.

crushing sleepers 2However, these are quickly turned into wood chip.

crushing sleepers 3This time more sleepers are laid, but at a different angle. Will they be enough to allow the crane to begin its climb?

crushing sleepers 4Initially it looks as if they’re going to go the same way as their predecessors..

Crane almost there 1But the plan works and the crane begins its climb.

crane almost there 2Almost there.

crane almost there 3Continuing the climb.

crane almost there 5Hanging in the balance. The awful moments when the crane is about to go beyond the point of no return. You’d have to have been there to appreciate the creaking and banging noises, hence the guys all looking upwards.. (I have a video of the whole event which I’ll shortly upload to the Diaries)

success crane on rampA success! The crane is safely in its new position on the recently constructed crane platform. Everyone was impressed with the skill of the crane driver, who made what looked like a near impossible task easy.

Littlehampton Sea Defences crane driverThis man’s skill was amazing.

crane on the rampThe crane in position ready to start the piling works in Pier Road.

So what happens now?

Earlier I caught up with Eric Smethurst, VolkerStevin’s Public Liaison manager.

Eric explained that the crane will now begin piling works in Pier Road. While this is going on, a second bridge will put into position ahead of the existing bridge and the crane will simply drive forward onto this new section when it’s completed. The section the crane was on will then be placed forward of this section and so forth – so essentially ‘leap-frogging’ along Pier Road until all the piling is completed.

It’s an amazing sight. There’s no doubt about it that the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences is now entering an exciting phase. Lots to see, especially in Pier Road, which will now become a hive of activity.

So If you haven’t been down to see the works already – now is a good time.

This is one of two cranes that are now working on the construction of Littlehampton’s Flood Defences. The second crane is currently working in Arun Parade and this is the bigger of the two cranes weighing in a massive 160 tonnes.

If you’re visiting – Remember that (at the moment at least) you can park free in the Windmill Car Park, courtesy of Arun District Council provided you are a customer of a business in Pier Road.

So come down, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view.

Make sure you keep up to date with the Pier Road Diaries by entering signing up for regular updates. Just enter your email address in the box on the top right hand side of this page just below the twitter feed.

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As always, thank you for reading and joining us.

We welcome your comments.

Spectacular behind the scenes pictures from the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences

A huge thank-you to Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency for providing these superb behind-the-scenes pictures. A number of them have been taken from a basket hanging from one of the cranes.

(Click on the pictures to super-size them)

Littlehampton Sea DefencesA bird’s-eye view of Littlehampton’s East Bank Flood Defences Scheme under construction.

Construction of Littlehampton's Sea DefencesAmazing view of the entrance to Littlehampton Harbour, Littlehampton’s iconic Lighthouse and the boardwalk loved by so many.

Aran Parade 5

The area behind the piling at Littlehampton’s Arun Parade all ready for backfilling and them a cap will be built on top raising the level of the sea defences.

Arun ParadeThe area being backfilled.

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe giant especially created Crane Bridge/Platform which will carry the 136tonne crane along Pier Road while it undertakes the piling works. One side of this giant bridge will sit on Pier Road with the other sitting on the recently installed piles. It will work it’s way along Pier Road North with the crane sitting on top. Quite a sight when it’s up and running,which we hope will be tomorrow (Tuesday, 25th February 2014).

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe giant crane’s plaform which sits on wooden sleepers.

constucting Littlehampton's sea defencesThe Piling hammer which drives the piles into the river bed.

Thanks again to Andrew from the Environment Agency and to VolkerStevin for allowing me to use these pictures on the Pier Road Diaries. As always, thanks to Eric Smethurst,Volker Stevin’s public liaison manager for providing us and all the visitors to the scheme with updates and explanations and for answering my endless questions and the construction staff not minding my poking my camera at them.

Remember to sign up for regular blog updates by entering your email address in the top right hand corner of this page.

And if you’re on twitter, follow Pier Road Diares on Twitter – @Pier_Road

Make sure you visit Littlehampton Seafront to see history being made. This is once-in-a-lifetime event and we’re now entering the most exciting part of the scheme’s construction.

As always, thanks for reading and following.

The Pier Road Diaries is now getting over 5,000 visitors a month and our mailing list is growing daily. If you’re planning a Littlehampton event, please do let us know – email us at and we’ll update your event’s details to the ‘What’s on Section’ of the blog, which we’re currently working on.


Windmill Cinema Re-opens tonight, Friday, 21st February.

Littlehampton’s much loved cinema, The Windmill re-opens tonight at 7.30pm with a showing of 12 Year’s A Slave. The film, which is an adaptation of the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup.

Twelve years a slave, a memoirSolomon Northup was a New York State-born ‘free negro’ who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery.

Windmill Cinema Littlehampton

A hard hitting, BAFTA award winning movie to celebrate a victory for the Save the Windmill campaign led by  Pat King.

Speaking to Danny Pike this morning on BBC Southern Counties Radio, a clearly delighted and excited Pat King said she was proud of their achievements and very excited with the prospect of tonight’s opening. But the message is clear, she said:  ‘We have our cinema, now get out and use it – or loose it.’

She explained that they’d over a hundred volunteers behind us now helping ‘bring our much loved and very much missed cinema back to life’. And with their new arrangements they’d be able to stream live footage from various events and performances. Something that’s proving increasingly popular with cinema audiences across the country.

While the film starts at 7.30pm, there is a pre-film party – all are welcome to attend – to celebrate this great new beginning from 4pm – 6pm

The Windmill Cinema, which is conveniently located just off Littlehampton’s South Terrace – just before the junction with Pier Road and Arun Parade.

Pay and Display Car Parking is available in the car park in front of the cinema. Alternatively, free car parking can be found in nearby residential streets.

This evening’s Schedule:

4 -6pm – Re-launch Party – all are welcome.

7.30pm – Screening of 12 Year’s a Slave.

A blockbuster programme of movies follows tonight’s performance, details below.

Littlehampton winmill cinema programme[adsenseyu1]

Update: Littlehampton Sea Defences, £400,000 Crane Bridge arrives

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 2The massive £400,000 Crane Bridge is currently being installed in Pier Road.

This enormous structure will carry the crane along Pier Road as it drives in each pile.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 1Environment Agency’s sea defence contractor VolkerStevin appeared to have overcome, what has so far proved the greatest engineering challenge in the construction of  Littlehampton’s Sea Defences by creating this £400,000 crane bridge. You can read more about why the Crane Bridge has been needed here.

The Bridge has been especially created to carry the weight of the Crane along Pier Road while keeping weight off Pier Road by straddling the road and sitting on the piling structures.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 8Here you can see the new crane bridge in position and being worked on to get it ready.

Once finished the crane will sit on this platform and will work it’s way along Pier Road.

Crane in Pier RoadOnce ready, this crane will be driven onto the Crane Bridge where it will begin the piling works in Pier Road. It’s a challenging job as once each ‘gateway of piles’ are driven in their final home in the river bed, the bridge will then have to be moved forward onto to these piles to begin on the next batch.

Piling gateThis is the ‘piling gate’ which the piles are loaded into before being driven into the ground.

Sea Defence construction Arun Parade 8Piles being driven into the ground, which have been loaded into the piling gate.

As you can see, it’s not an easy, or a quick task and when you see the sheer logistical problems you get an idea as why the project has been delayed so much.

Look and Sea!Littlehampton’s Look and Sea! Centre’s iconic viewpoint framed by the new Crane bridge.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 6Work underway today (Wednesday, 19th February 2014) on installing the new crane bridge.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 3The sheer size of this new crane bridge has to been seen in the ‘flesh’ to understand how vast it is. It will be an amazing sight to see the Crane on top of this bridge, and if Littlehampton ever needed a new visitor attraction, then this is it.

VolkerStevin have indicated that they expect Piling works to be completed in Pier Road by May 2014. Only once the piling has been completed can the works begin on the back filling and concreting necessary to create the actual ‘wall’ and capping that will sit both behind and above the piles.

It’s a long, challenging difficult engineering process.

Littlehampton Sea Defence Piling worksMeanwhile piling work continues at the harbour entrance. If you pop up there you can great views of what’s happening as you can in Pier Road.

Come and witness history being made.


Latest update on Littlehampton’s Sea Defences. Environment Agency answers your questions.

Earlier this week, I caught up with Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency and asked him if the Environment Agency would provide a detailed update that I could share with readers of the Pier Road Diaries.

Despite being over-run with weather and dealing with constant and dangerous flooding problems, Andrew and his team have found the time to provide this useful update for Littlehampton’s residents and business owners.

When will the Works now be completed?

The works in Pier Road and Arun Parade are currently forecast to be completed in autumn 2014.

2.    What caused this delay?

There are four main reasons for the delay we are currently experiencing:

1.    Adverse weather, including; a 30 year extreme high tide event, multiple days of gale force winds and largest amount of December rainfall in the Arun catchment since 1934. The wettest January on record.

2.    Multiple crane and crane rig breakdowns, as well as other technical issues with mechanical plant.

3.    A number of complex and very important safety issues regarding locating the crane on the existing riverside area (temporary works).

4.    The drawings for Arun Parade and Pier Road have recently been finalised, this has led to some increases in the amount of time required on site.


3.    Why didn’t you know about these safety issues before the start of the works?

Our original method of works was to stand the cranes in Arun Parade and Pier Road on standard crane mats. Following on from a detailed analysis of the existing structures it became evident that there was a significant risk of a catastrophic slip circle failure of the existing structure. This has led to a redesign of the structures which support the cranes.

4.    Why didn’t you factor weather delays into your programme?

We did factor in typical winter weather into our construction programme. To date, this winter’s weather has been exceptional.

We have experienced nearly 4 month’s rain in 2 weeks in December. January was the wettest on record and February is forecast to continue experiencing further low pressure systems. More importantly, we have experienced a larger than average number of gale force wind events throughout December and January.

When average wind speeds increase above 13m/s, crane operations on site are suspended for safety reasons. Using the crane to drive the steel sheet piles is a critical item of work on site. This is why high wind speeds can have a negative impact on the construction works.

 5.    What are you doing about this delay?

We have already started doing some work at the weekends, in order to try and minimise the impacts. We are continuing to work with Arun District Council Environmental Health team to explore the opportunities to reduce the construction programme by working at weekends.

We are looking for every opportunity to maximise efficiency to start to regain lost time. For example, we will continue to explore the opportunities for weekend working, we will look to increase site construction hours as the days get longer, we will advertise in the local press that Pier Road remains open for business, we will change fencing alignments wherever possible to create more room on footpaths and we will attempt to reopen sections of both road as soon as works are completed.

6.    How do we know that the delays won’t increase further?

We are working with the best available information that we have at the current time. There is the potential for our forecast construction time on site to increase or decrease, depending on a number factors. We will always keep you updated on our scheduled construction programme.

7.    What is Arun Parade/Pier Road going to look like through the summer?

The piling works will be complete and the large cranes will be off site. There will be on-going construction works of the concrete capping beam, retaining walls and public realm enhancements.

8.    What are the effects of the delay? Where will they be felt?

The increase in the construction time means that Pier Road and Arun Parade will be closed through the summer. The project board agreed that this approach was preferable to closing down the site and remobilising after summer.

9.    Will the road still be closed throughout the summer?

Pier Road and Arun Parade will remain closed to vehicular traffic over the summer (dependent on approval from the Highways Authority). We will do everything we can to minimise the impacts of the road closures.

 Where possible we will undertake a staggered reopening when sections of the work are completed.

If we are able to we will realign the site perimeter fencing in places, in order to improve pedestrian access to the businesses on Pier Road and Arun Parade.

10.  What is being done to restore public confidence in visiting Littlehampton?

We will continue to publicise that Pier Road and Arun Parade are open to visitors through various local media outlets. We welcome any ideas which you may have regarding publicising businesses in the local area.

11.  Can’t you just close the works and start again at the end of the summer?

The decision was taken by the project board that in order to minimise disruption to residents, businesses and visitors, that site works will continue through the summer months. There was concern that closing the site, leaving the area half constructed, and returning later in the year would result in more disruption for local people.

This option has been assessed by the project team and discounted due to the following reasons;

·         The piling is scheduled to be completed before the start of the summer, whilst the landscaping works would only be partially completed;

·         There would be addition temporary works require making the site safe for the public (temporary handrail, surfacing), these works would be abortive and add to the project costs;

·         Continuing through the summer brings opportunities to increase productivity  due to increased daylight hours and better weather;

·         Compensation will potentially cost more during the summer, but there are opportunities to minimise these costs by further advertising, and opening up completed sections.

My thanks to Andrew and the Project Team at the Environment Agency for taking the time out to update the Pier Road Diaries Readers.

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