Rob said, “This £4m project was a rebuild of the middle section of Ryde Pier, known as the tramway pier. It’s a structure that has been serving the community for over 150 years and it’s located on the North East coast of the Isle of Wight.
“The pier serves as a port for the WightLink Ferry which connects the Island to the mainland. This project fell under a government incentive to make travel easier between towns and cities, now and in the future.
“Ryde Pier is a grade 2 listed structure in a conservation area which meant there were a lot of unique elements for the team to consider in the early stages. These factors also meant various parties were involved, such as English Heritage, the Local Authority, and conservation groups. Each came with their own perspective on the project which could also be tricky to manage.
“We had a list of requirements to comply with from the Local Authority Conservation Officer too, the main stipulation was that any new elements of the structure had to have the same aesthetic appearance as the original.
“The original tramway consisted of a steelwork grillage on the top level, with cast iron screw piles and it was braced with diagonal tie rods. An example of us making sure the new structure was in keeping with the original was that we painted each galvanised nut and bolt from its natural silver colour to black so that it was in keeping with the original. The pier is 625 metres long, so you can only imagine how many nuts and bolts needed to be painted!
“When work started on site we thankfully didn’t experience too many issues. A few of the cast iron pile heads had corroded and needed to be repaired so we had to come up with a way of replacing those. We were fortunate in the main though, there were approximately 350 pile heads and only seven were damaged!
“A consideration unique to marine engineering that the team had to consider was potential issues with salt water and corrosion. This was well thought through at the design stage to ensure that the materials used were suitable for the environment.
“Another marine specific element that we needed to plan for was working with the tides. Depending on the water level, the contractors might only have an hour or two to do any significant work.
“Ryde is a very long, shallow beach that’s dry for long periods of time, however, the closer you go to the pier head, the less time you have to work without water. There were occasions when the contractors had to work in waist deep water, wearing waders and life jackets.
“We also had to think about the impact of global warming and the potential for water levels to be higher than they were when the pier was first built. To account for this, we allowed an extra 400mm in height from the level of the existing tramway.
“I went over to the pier on a weekly basis to monitor the progress. We issued a completion certificate at the end of June because the client wanted it to open in time for the Isle of Wight Festival. The completion certificate is to say that the pier is structurally safe and ready for the public to use.
“There’s still a little bit of work to do on the pier such as installing handrails and other small details. But the structure itself is finished and was effectively tested by thousands of people coming back from the festival. I think that’s a good first test!”