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Ramsgate Advanced Pier
Royal Harbour, Ramsgate, Kent
associated engineer
John Smeaton
date  1788 - 1792
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Pier, seaside  |  reference  TR384643
ICE reference number  HEW 484
Ramsgate Advanced Pier is a south westerly extension to the original East Pier, which had been added to the harbour's breakwaters to reduce wave action inside the compound. The Advanced Pier was part of the extensive harbour works designed by John Smeaton, who was harbour Engineer from 1778 until his death in 1792.
Ramsgate Harbour dates from an Act of Parliament of 1749. Its two enclosing breakwaters were designed by William Etheridge, built under the direction of Thomas Preston. When Smeaton was appointed, various measures were needed to deal with the silting up of the harbour.
Smeaton's Advanced Pier is 97.5m long and masonry-built. It is founded on two parallel rows of timber caissons, 3.7m apart, sunk onto the chalk seabed. The removal of rock armour from around the earlier pier head, the levelling the seabed and the sinking of the caissons all took place up to 3.8m under water, using a diving bell. The diving bell, also designed by Smeaton, was a cast iron box 1.4m high by 1.4m long and 900mm wide, weighing 2.5 tonnes and large enough for two men. Fresh air was supplied by pump from a supply boat on the surface.
The first caisson was sunk on 3rd September 1788. Each one was 6.1m long and contained some 250 tonnes of cut stone. The space between the two rows of caissons was filled with rubble masonry. At low water at neap tides, the tops of the caissons are just visible.
The pier itself has battered walls of dressed stone, a top width of 7.9m and a small parapet on one side. Its deck is 3m above high water spring tide level. Work was completed in 1792.
Resident engineer: John Gwyn (1788-89), Henry Cull (1789-92)
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SouthJS

Ramsgate Advanced Pier