The floating jetty that forms the first stage of the Brightlingsea Community Heritage Pier project on the Brightlingsea Hard is now open.
Costing just over £101,000 so far – with £75,000 coming from an EU grant and the remainder from Brightlingsea Town Council – coded (licensed) fishermen and operators of commercial day angling boats have priority use of the facility.
But the grant also covers "community heritage tourism" use and now that Covid restrictions have lifted – initially the jetty was primarily intended for use by fishermen so that they could land catches or board crew away from the public – it's open to the public as well. This means that the jetty can be used for temporary mooring and crabbing, but not as a platform for anglers or swimmers. Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners will regulate vessel-related use.
The original plan would have seen the jetty secured in place with piles but when it was discovered that the concrete under mud – part of a wartime facility used to maintain naval vessels – was three times thicker than expected, the jetty was anchored instead.
John Carr, the town councillor leading the project, told Brightlingsea Info that a plan to lift the jetty while piling took place over the winter has now been shelved and the structure will remain in place while core sampling of the underlying concrete takes place. Following that, the steel piles which have already been bought and paid for will be placed along the west side of the jetty. Mr Carr said that up to £5,000 can be claimed from the EU for piling, but the cost of the piling barge and associated equipment is still under discussion.
Ultimately, the council plans to place the jetty on the seaward side of a large decked area which will be available for community use. Then, the intention is to have traditional smacks and barges moored there, creating a tourist attraction. Funding has yet to be secured for the deck.
Dolphins recommended for removal
The new jetty also gives residents the chance to inspect the dolphins - the steel structures dating back to WWII used to secure naval vessels which are now badly corroded – at close quarters.
The town council has now received an engineering consultant's report it commissioned which concludes that their current condition is so poor that "repair is unlikely to be feasible", with little more than rust and the rubbing timbers holding them together.
The report concludes: "Given that repair is unfeasible, the only credible option is complete removal of the dolphins to well below the mud-line, to ensure any persons or boats would not be at risk of injury or damage due to the remaining vertical members."
The full report can be downloaded by clicking here.