Gravesend Town Pier
New entrance pavilion & pontoon
Fit out of bar &restaurant*
Repair of Victorian cast iron pier
Gravesham Borough Council, Q Breweries*
Contract value: £5.5M
Gravesend Town Pier was built in 1834 and is thought to be the world's oldest cast iron pier. Our involvement with the pier has included the repair of the structure, construction of a new entrance pavilion on the quayside, fit-out of a new bar and restaurant and construction of a new pontoon. Common to each of these projects has been a requirement to respond sympathetically to the grade II* listed structure.
Repairs involved in-situ repair of below-deck structure, the dismantling of the ironwork superstructure for off-site repair, replacement of the deck and re-roofing in copper and zinc incorporating thermal insulation. Straddling the flood defence wall, in which two additional gates were formed, the new pavilion is intended to re-establish the historic connection between Gravesend and the Thames, which had been obstructed by 1980's construction and the flood defences. The pavilion was designed and built as an unglazed structure before a commercial use for the pier had been identified. The perimeter envelope of the bar and restaurant comprises steel framed glazing with large sliding panels and zinc cladding. Service spaces are concentrated in a central core with primary distribution, including sprinklers, located above ceiling elements. Public access is provided to the end of the pier and the pontoon.
Whilst the pontoon re-establishes the pier's original function as a terminal for ferry services to Tilbury and London, the challenge has been to preserve the historic character and setting of Town Pier. The 1834 design allowed all-tide access to steam packets via river steps. Two small pavilions on the T-head provided the only shelter from the elements. Access will now be a lot safer and more convenient. Passengers can enjoy a cup of coffee or meal in the restaurant while they are waiting.
The pontoon access jetty separates the new structure visually and physically from the historic pier. New finishes on the pontoon are deliberately muted, allowing Town Pier to remain the central focus. New mooring facilities, with power hook-ups and fresh water, provide a staging post for yachts and sailing barges, much-needed on this stretch of the Thames. Technical challenges included piling in close proximity to the historic structure, the risk of unexploded ordnance and catering for ‘robust’ berthing by the ‘Waverley’ Clyde paddle steamer, which has limited manoeuvrability. It is anticipated that the new pontoon will bring more visitors into Gravesend and act as a catalyst for further regeneration of the town. The project was funded by Gravesham Borough Council, Kent County Council, English Heritage, South East England Development Agency and the European Union's Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme
Gravesham Borough Council