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Peterhead South Harbour
Peterhead, Scottish Highlands, UK
associated engineer
John Smeaton
date  1775 - 1781
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Harbour  |  reference  NK135458
ICE reference number  HEW 0127
Peterhead Harbour lies on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands, and is an agglomeration of the large Harbour of Refuge with three smaller harbours the North, South and Port Henry Harbours.
John Smeaton redesigned the South Harbour in 1772, to replace the dilapidated 16th century configuration. The existing convex south pier was rebuilt to a new alignment, concave to the sea, to deflect the sea away from the harbour entrance. The new structure was 107m long and contained some 4,250 cubic metres of masonry, 70 percent of which was reused stone from the old pier. Some of Smeaton's construction is still visible on the south pier.
An additional short pier was built to the west, resulting in an entrance 24.4m wide between the pier heads, and enclosing an area of 2 hectares. The harbour was deepened by excavating the rock seabed, to give a maximum water depth of 4.3m at spring tides. Resident engineer John Gwyn also added a wet dock.
Work on South Harbour began in 1775, after a struggle for finance, and was completed in 1781 at a cost of more than 6,000.
In the 19th century further improvements were made by several famous engineers, although the general configuration laid down by Smeaton was not altered substantially.
John Rennie's 1806 proposals resulted in the construction of a return head to the west pier in 1807, increasing its length. The harbour was deepened by another 1.2m in 1808-10. Thomas Telford directed the completion of the quay walls along the north, east and west sides of the harbour in 1812. In 1826, Robert Stevenson suggested a canal to link the North and South Harbours, which was implemented to a design by his son, David.
Today the South Harbour has 350m of quay, with a minimum depth of 3m at low water. Vessels up to 92m long overall and with a maximum draught of 6.5m can be accommodated.
Resident engineer: John Gwyn
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SHIJS

Peterhead South Harbour