Closed since 21st October 2013, Pier Road’s new riverside walkway and road finally re-opened today.
I have been following the construction of Littlehampton’s flood defences and have taken in excess of 3,000 photographs of the works at every stage. It’s impossible to put them all together in one post, so here’s some of my favourites, which diary the progress of the works finally arriving at today’s memorable opening.
Starting with a look back at Pier Road in bygone era.
Pier Road as it was as a working fishing port. As you can see the buildings were mostly houses, and not commercial. Only later, when sea-side holidays and day-trips became popular, did the road change to meet the changing visitor needs.
My favourite vintage pictures of Pier Road (above and below) taken when it was a working fishing port.
Pier Road in its hay day when visitors flocked from all over the South East to visit Littlehampton’s wonderful sandy beaches and enjoy traditional fish and chips.
Per Road’s original ferry which crossed the River Arun taking visitors from the East Beach area/Pier Road to the West beach.
In 2010, it was announced that Pier Road and Arun Parade would benefit from a £13.5 million investment in creating flood defences and a new public realm.
Consultations began with residents and visitors and a number of workshops and consultation meetings were held where visuals of the proposed scheme were put on display.
Above is the visual presented at the public consultations which took place at Arun District Council’s Civic Centre.
The above picture is the first mark made prior in the road that was made some time before the main works actually began. The yellow mark marks the point where the drilling rig began boring for soil samples.
Drilling rig operating in Pier Road.
On the 21st October 2013 Pier Road was closed to vehicular traffic.
Conditions in Pier Road during the works were difficult, to say the least. The narrow, caged walkway had an enormous impact on visitors to the road.
Very little room for anyone and especially difficult for those travelling with children in buggies or pushing wheel chairs.
Pier Road’s Fish Kiosk was removed and re-sited opposite the Nelson hotel where it remains today. It will move back to the riverside site once the works there are completed.
Piling works begin.
As Pier Road was deemed to unstable to take the weight of the piling crane, a specially adapted crane bridge was constructed which essentially carried the crane along Pier Road. A time-consuming task, which added to the ongoing construction delays.
Piling crane sits on its bridge, above and below
The size of the crane bridge was enormous, to say the least as can be seen in the close up picture below.
With works on such a scale, it’s hard to believe that the Environment Agency could have forecasted this would all be complete in six months.
A view of the crane bridge situated along the river.
Equipment had to be craned onto the new platform and flying machinery became a common and interesting sight as the work progressed.
An aerial view of Pier Road as the piling bridge and crane makes it way along Pier Road. Picture courtesy of VolkerStevin and the Environment Agency.
With the piling complete in Pier Road, work began on completing the flood defence wall and capping off the exposed piles.
As the height of the wall became apparent, many became annoyed as this height wasn’t clearly depicted in the visuals shown at the public consultations.
The visuals don’t really show the actual scale of the height of the wall from road or lower pavement level.
With the piling completed, concrete walkway complete, work began on finishing the landscaping, street furniture and taking up the old Pier Road.
Evidence of Pier Road’s old cobbled surface was uncovered during these works.
Work continued on preparing and laying the new Pier Road
Pier Road’s new surface is laid.
Finally, it’s all finished and ready for today’s opening.
Pier Road’s new riverside walkway with an excellent disabled ramp to allow easy access for visitors.
Arun District Council’s new signs form part of the public realm.
A view of the ramp leading up to the new walkway. The walkway itself offers amazing views, which some great places to sit and relax.
One of the seats, which are lovely and comfortable and beautifully finished. In my view, the woodwork in the public realm really is amazing and the company who built these features should be very proud of their achievements.
It’s an impressive, bright and airy pubic realm space, which when fully opened will link Littlehampton town centre to the seafront promenade.
The colours of the road blend with the new realm. I wasn’t gone on this in the design, but I think it really does work well. The railings are superb, easy to handle and grip and blend in well with the design.
In addition to the river-facing seating, there are lots of wooden seating areas which face the restaurants, out of sight of the pictures.
Given time the sparse planting will grow and mature, but it’s a shame that more mature, dramatic specimens couldn’t have been included in what is a £22m build.
Members of the press and local business community gather for the official photographs.
The public mood today in Pier Road was one of genuine admiration and awe. I think the contractors and those involved with the project should be very proud of what they’ve created in Pier Road. It’s an impressive and wonderful new space, which undoubtedly will be enjoyed by many generations to come.
The official opening for the entire scheme isn’t scheduled until June 2015.
Arun Parade is due to be open in time for Easter.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read.