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Seaton Sluice Harbour
Seaton, Northumberland, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1670 - 1675, 1761 - 20th March 1764
UK era  Stuart  |  category  Harbour  |  reference  NZ336768
ICE reference number  HEW 987
Seaton Sluice is the present name of the harbour at Seaton in Northumberland. Once named Hartley Harbour, it was initially protected by a pier dating from 1661. This was replaced by sluicing arrangements in order to stop the harbour silting up. Water was dammed at high tide and flowed out of the harbour at low tide.
Ships were registered at Seaton Sluice, as the harbour became known, from 1672. Improvements were carried out on the instructions of local landowner Sir Ralph Delaval, primarily to facilitate exports of coal and salt from local mines and pans. Over some five years, more than 20,000 was spent on two masonry piers at the harbour entrance and stone quays to could accommodate 14 ships.
The piers suffered storm damage in 1703 and 1704, and were repaired in 1704. However, the limited water depth inside the harbour restricted the full loading of vessels at the quay. With increasing trade in coal and glass bottles, a more accessible harbour was required.
A new deepwater dock was cut eastwards through a rock headland to the sea in 1761-4 at a cost of some 10,000. It was 9.1m wide, 15.8m deep and almost 275m long with timber gates at each end. A new stone pier protected the east harbour entrance.
The new Seaton Sluice Harbour opened on 20th March 1764. By the next year, a waggonway had been built between the mine and the harbour and a steam engine was in use to raise coal from the pit for loading. Famous engineer James Watt came to inspect this engine in about 1768.
During the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815), the harbour was protected by a blockhouse and a battery of three guns, built on a ballast mound, and manned by soldiers from Tynemouth.
The east pier was damaged in a storm on 2nd February 1825, which almost destroyed the harbour. There were proposals for refurbishment works in 1826, but it is not clear whether the plans came to fruition. In the mid 19th century, the harbour was a popular resort with steam vessels operating pleasure trips to North Shields.
Improvements to other local ports and transport routes, and the closure of Hartley colliery in 1862, all contributed to Seaton Sluice's decline as a working harbour. The glass bottle factory on site closed in 1870.
The harbour is a Grade II listed structure. It only caters for boats less than 9.1m long.
Research: ECPK
"Archaeologia Aeliana: Relating to Antiquities"
Vol. 24, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
Andrew Reid and Company Limited, London, 1903
reference sources   CEH North

Seaton Sluice Harbour