It is common knowledge that Shoreham Port has been around for a very long time – over 250 years to be precise, but what staff didn’t realise was that a certain piece of machinery, located in the Dry Dock, has been in use since 1850!
Keith Wadey, Assistant Port Engineer made an exciting discovery when he found a pamphlet from the Shoreham Harbour Trustees in 1934. In the pamphlet it stated that the balance arms in the Dry Dock had been reused for the new lock gates – suggesting that the balance arms had already been in place for quite some time.
After further research Keith found out that the balance arms were installed back in 1850 and have never been replaced. Keith commented “This was an incredible discovery and a tribute to British engineering. The balance arms were made to last and this is exactly what they have done.”
To put it into perspective the balance arms were constructed in 1850 when Queen Victoria was just 31 years old. The lock gates, timbers and winches surrounding the balance arms have all been changed over the years but the balance arms themselves have stayed in place. Weighing in at four tons and made out of cast iron, the balance arms have been in place at Shoreham Port throughout two World Wars.
They run off of a wheel underwater to counter balance the weight of the lock gates. The balance arms require very little maintenance. For a detailed video documenting the changing of the Dry Dock lock gates in 2010 please visit www.shoreham-port.co.uk/Video-Footage/adur-dry-dock.
This recent discovery adds to Shoreham Port’s rich history and was somewhat of a surprise to the Engineering team. Keith added “I knew the balance arms were old, but not this old! From time to time I study old records of work done at the Port in our many archive folders. Understanding the Port’s history helps us to maintain the Port today and keep it in fantastic working order.”
If you would like to find out more about the history of Shoreham Port please visit www.shoreham-port.co.uk/History.