A brief history of Shoreham Port.

The following is an extract from a report for my degree dissertation, on the history of Shoreham Port:-

Image 1. Western arm of Shoreham port, which encompasses the lower reaches of the River Adur.

Shoreham port sits at the mouth of the river Adur in West Sussex. It is a location that has had a working port sited in the area for many hundreds of years (Baggs et al, 1980). Because of the requirement to maintain a working depth of water for vessels to access the port (Image 3), historical attempts to manage the river channel have produced the present format of the port and coastline (Image 2) (Pritchard, 1843: Kleinhans et al, 2010). Consistent and extensive building of a shingle bar from the effects of longshore drift (Bird, 2008) produced what is now Shoreham Beach, and the present location of the river mouth.

Image 2. Map of New Shoreham, circa 1833. Source http://shoreham.adur.org.uk

The continued marine sediment input (Bird, 2008), and movement of the coastline (Dike and Agunwamba,2012) is the first aspect of the sediment budget for the area investigated. Tidal flow continues to provide a sediment input to the area being examined (Pacheco et al, 2007), and beyond as far North as Steyning and Upper Beeding, well beyond the area being surveyed (Environment Agency, 2009).

Image 3. Painting of the River Adur and Shoreham in the background. Circa 1879 by James R Knnear. Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove ©

Fluvial input of sediment is then added to the sediment budget for the lower reaches of the River Adur (Owens et al, 2005: Kirby, 2013). The exact volume, type and particle size of the sediment within the water column will hopefully enable us to quantify the sources of the sediment currently within the water column.

Whilst large areas of the River Adur’s lower reaches encompass mud flats, and these have been examined extensively, we will not be specifically looking at aspects of these (Law et al, 2002; Mudd et al, 2010). Precipitation levels will have an impact on the fresh water volumes passing through the survey area, and will therefore be monitored in the days leading up to surveys, and duly recorded from the nearby meteorological office at Shoreham Airport, or through Environment Agency monitoring stations along the river.

Image 4. Current River mouth and port entrance. Image source S.Hall

Current research at a number of European ports are looking at methods of managing the sediment flow within the water column (Cappucci et al, 2011), and the concept of “Keep Sediment In the System” (KSIS) as developed by Kirby (2013), either by current deflecting walls (CDW) or in-situ conditioning and the use of ‘fluid muds’ (Kirby 2011). These methods are in stark contrast to the more traditional methods of hard engineering (Image 4), dredging and silt pumping (Manning et al 2011).

The scope of the project is to merely assess and try to quantify the sediment transported within the water column. The implications for future development of both the Port Authority’s sediment management regime, and the current or future attempts to manage the sediment within the surveyed area will hopefully be something that can be developed from our findings (Bates et al, 2015).


Baggs, A.P., Currie, C.R.J., Elrington, C.R., Keeling, S.M. and Rowland, A.M. “Old and New Shoreham,” in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part), ed. T P Hudson (London: Victoria County History, 1980), 138-149.

Bates, M.E., Fox-Lent, C., Seymour, L., Wender, B.A. and Linkov, I., 2015. Life cycle assessment for dredged sediment placement strategies. Science of the Total Environment, 511, pp.309-318.

Bird E.C.F. 2008. Coastal geomorphology. Wiley. 2nd Edition

Cappucci, S., Scarcella, D., Rossi, L. and Taramelli, A., 2011. Integrated coastal zone management at Marina di Carrara Harbor: sediment management and policy making. Ocean & coastal management, 54(4), pp.277-289.

Kirby, R., 2013. Managing industrialised coastal fine sediment systems. Ocean & coastal management, 79, pp.2-9.

Dike, C.C. & Agunwamba, J.C. 2012, “STUDY ON THE EFFECTS OF TIDE ON SEDIMENTATION IN ESTUARIES OF THE NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA”, Journal of Urban and Environmental Engineering, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 86-93.

Environment Agency, 2009. Adur Catchment Flood Plan. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/293867/Adur_Catchment_Flood_Management_Plan.pdf (Accessed 29 March 2018)

Kleinhans, M.G., Weerts, H.J.T. & Cohen, K.M. 2010, “Avulsion in action: Reconstruction and modelling sedimentation pace and upstream flood water levels following a Medieval tidal-river diversion catastrophe (Biesbosch, The Netherlands, 1421–1750 AD)”, Geomorphology, vol. 118, no. 1, pp. 65-79.

Law, R.J., Kelly, C.A., Baker, K.L., Langford, K.H. & Bartlett, T. 2002, “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediments, mussels and crustacea around a former gasworks site in Shoreham-by-Sea, UK”, Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 9, pp. 903-911.

Manning, A.J., Van Kessel, T., Melotte, J., Sas, M., Winterwerp, H. & Pidduck, E.L. 2011, “On the consequence of a new tidal dock on the sedimentation regime in the Antwerpen area of the Lower Sea Scheldt”, Continental Shelf Research, vol. 31, no. 10, pp. S150-S164.

Owens, P.N., Batalla, R.J., Collins, A.J., Gomez, B., Hicks, D.M., Horowitz, A.J., Kondolf, G.M., Marden, M., Page, M.J., Peacock, D.H. and Petticrew, E.L., 2005. Fine‐grained sediment in river systems: environmental significance and management issues. River research and applications, 21(7), pp.693-717.

Pacheco, A., Carrasco, A.R., Vila-Concejo, A., Ferreira, Ó. and Dias, J.A., 2007. A coastal management program for channels located in backbarrier systems. Ocean & Coastal Management, 50(1-2), pp.119-143.

Pritchard, W.B., 1843. The report of W. B. Pritchard, esq., C. E., to the commissioners of shoreham harbour, on the cause of the existence of the shingle bar at the mouth of shoreham harbour, and the proposed mode of keeping the mouth of the said harbour permanently free. (1843). Architect, Engineer and Surveyor, 4(42), 206-211. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/docview/6705695?accountid=9727

Where and what. Dissertation takes shape.

Having had a boat in the marina for six years and having worked at the marina for a year prior to starting my bachelor’s degree, I knew the management team. We had an informal chat about the possibility of a research project to define and monitor the currents within the marina, and the quantity of suspended sediment entering and leaving the marina at different states of the tide. Unfortunately, Premier Marinas felt the administration and bureaucracy that they would have to adhere to would make the project unworkable for them. A blow for me as I really wanted to try to make a difference to the marinas functionality and environmental impact.

Undaunted, and using contacts I had gained from working at Brighton Marina, I contacted a friend at Shoreham Port Authority about my idea. To my surprise he told me that Shoreham Port was already trying alternative methods of sediment management, and following a few emails, I sat down with the harbour master and it became obvious to me very quickly how enthusiastic and helpful the team at Shoreham would be.

Over the course of a few months I developed a sampling project that Shoreham Port Authority would help me complete. The enthusiasm and positivity of everyone at Shoreham was energising and gave me renewed vigour in the project and in the hope that the project really could make a difference.

Now that I had an idea of the direction I wanted my dissertation project to take, and I had managed to secure support from the port authority, I needed to define what the project would consist of?

To research and design an alternative to backhoe dredging was completely beyond the scope of a bachelor’s degree, and I had to keep reminding myself of this as lecture after lecture inspired me to do more and more. The quality and enthusiasm of the teaching staff at the University of Brighton made deciding exactly what the scope of the project would be incredibly difficult.

As I discovered the amazing characteristics of salt marshes (of which Shoreham has many) and their ability to capture and lock away carbon, out performing even the Amazon rainforest per square metre, I wanted to bring this in to the project. As I learnt about the strength, and complexity of ocean currents, tides and amphidromic points, I wanted to explore and develop these inputs. As I discovered the unique and varied flora and fauna that lives in estuary environments, I wanted to bring this magical world and its distinct battles that it wages every tide in to my project. But I had to keep reminding myself of the constraints and expectations of a bachelor’s degree dissertation project.

So it was that the final project was devised. Using three transects on the western arm of the stretch of the River Adur up to almost to the Sussex Yacht Club from the mouth of the river. I would take samples of water at one metre intervals of depth in three places across the river. This would allow me to build up a picture of the volume of suspended sediment at three distinct locations within the estuary. By sampling at different times of the year, at different states of the tide, and after differing weather phenomenon, I could expand the picture of suspended sediment to try and identify key inputs and factors affecting the type and volume of sediment being carried and deposited in the estuary.

With the boundaries of the project decided it felt like I had moved away from the original concept completely, but upon reflection I realised I could not look at what to do with the sediment until I understand completely the origin, volumes and dynamics of the material I hoped to control.

Following discussions with what became my supervising professor, I also added Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling (ADCP) to the project. This compact and portable piece of equipment can analyse a cross section of the river and show you the direction and speed of the flow. This additional information would allow me to show what the currents in the estuary are doing and help to expand on the energy regimes present in the water. (More to follow on the ADCP in another blog piece.)