This picture is a very fine study of the Newhaven breakwater being built. It was the second one in the world built by this new method of not making a proper base for it in the first instance, thus avoiding expensive foundations and all that goes with it. It was essential that a special craft be built to work in conjunction with this and I remember the strange craft very well. I think she was eventually scrapped just before the second world war was declared. Anyway, I had already left Newhaven, so would not have missed her. She was named Trident and I remember seeing her moored at Denton Island on the northern side where there are now the branches of two Brighton shops. This vessel was actually built for the job.
So, how does the existence of this craft come into the picture? Earlier breakwaters were very expensive because of the preparation of the foundations, which had to be done expertly and made to last.
The idea thought out for Newhaven did not have the need for this. A very large concrete mixer was erected by the water’s edge at the harbour, almost to where it ends and becomes the East Pier.
Then, my boat would moor herself beneath. A large canvas bag was positioned in the floor of the craft and into it was poured about 100 tons of concrete. This was sealed and the whole lot was taken out by the Trident. She had been fitted with an opening bottom and that was where this great gathering of concrete was due to sit until the moment arrived and she was positioned above the area where it was required. Once in position, the whole lot was dropped through the boat’s bottom (now open). More could be dropped if and when required until you had an area waiting to be dealt with now from above. This was a completely different method and although there must have been lots of close shaves, it seemed the best way to do it.
They breakwater reached the right length which they would not have been able to afford using the method of preparing the site by the old system.
So, though I have told this story so many times at our museum, perhaps it has been a good move to do it again.
I should probably explain that there does not appear to be much activity on the site at the time the photograph was taken. This was quiet usual as there were many periods when there was no money to keep going flat out. I did think that there would be quite an interest in the two beaches, how much better that one is now all sand and the other shingle.