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Cromarty Harbour
Cromarty, Highland, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
John Smeaton
date  1781 - December 1784
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Harbour  |  reference  NH784677
ICE reference number  HEW 127
Cromarty Harbour lies on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands, north east of Inverness, on a spit of land known as Black Isle between the Cromarty Firth and the Moray Firth. An early type of offshore breakwater protects the harbour.
The 'new town' of Cromarty was created during the 1770s by landowner and industrialist George Ross, who built a small jetty on the site of the harbour. John Smeaton designed the new harbour, much of which still exists, and took his own levels as part of the site investigation.
Work probably began in 1781, and included incorporating the old jetty into the south pier and constructing a new north pier. By 1783, the curving north pier — built from small blocks of reddish sandstone — was 70m long.
Smeaton decided that to protect the harbour adequately, and limit the deposition of sand inside it, an offshore breakwater would be better than a long pier. Consequently, the pier was terminated at 70m and a detached pier 40m long was constructed almost parallel with the shore and about 21m from the north pier head. Resident engineer John Gwyn left the site in December 1784 when the works were completed.
In 1828, a harbour was established at Invergordon on the opposite side of the Cromarty Firth and this had an adverse effect on Cromarty’s prosperity.
Improvements were undertaken at Cromarty Harbour to combat this — further work on the south pier by 1839, and the linking of the detached breakwater to the pier with a timber bridge in 1879. A Bailey bridge replaced the timber structure in around 1994.
Resident engineer: John Gwyn
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SHIJS

Cromarty Harbour