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Retaining Bank, River Itchen
River Itchen, Southampton, Hampshire
Retaining Bank, River Itchen
associated engineer
Louis Gustave Mouchel
date  1897 - 1898
era  Victorian  |  category  Walls/Abutments/Cuttings  |  reference  SU433114
photo  Mouchel archive
The London & South Western Railway sea wall, or Retaining Bank, at Southampton was the first commission for the UK "ferro-concrete" agency of Louis Gustave Mouchel, the man who pioneered reinforced concrete construction in late 19th century Britain.
The bank, along the River Itchen, made use of precast ferro-concrete sheet piles. This innovation led to the construction of more jetties and wharves of reinforced concrete — not least in Southampton — as the material proved ideal for construction in water. Steel structures, by contrast, are susceptible to rust, and timber to marine borer. Indeed, by the early twentieth century, it became common for concrete piles to be driven side by side, or at intervals supporting concrete slabs, to form retaining walls.
The London & South Western Railway began life as the London & Southampton Railway. It was authorised in 1834 and operated from the 1840s, running trains from Victoria Station in London to the south coast. The company ran steamers from Southampton to the Channel Islands and the French coast, hence its interest in jetties and quays.
Mouchel undertook two other projects at Southampton for the L&SWR — a coal barge jetty and quay, and the widening of the extension quay, both of which date from circa 1900. For other clients he designed the steam ferry slipway, Woolston Jetty (1897) and Town Quay, all in Southampton.
Research: FBA
bibliography
"Concrete Foundations and Substructures: A Historical Review"
by M.M. Chrimes, Proceedings Institution Civil Engineers Structures & Buildings (1996), 116, Aug-Nov, 344-374, paper 11071
"Mouchel: A Century of Achievement" published by Mouchel, 1997
reference sources   BRH
Location

Retaining Bank, River Itchen