Pier Pressure

Inserting new piles

The Pier's Tale

Over its lifetime Yarmouth Pier has needed maintenance, restoration and repair.

This is an ongoing task due to the pressure of the tide, wind and waves and the attention of marine creatures that burrow or bore into the wood, such as the locally famous gribble (a crustacean of the Limnoria family).

One of the main aims of The Pier’s Tale project was to restore the timber structure of Yarmouth Pier so that it remains a safe, accessible and unique feature of the coastline.


The restoration work in 2018 was substantial and cost over £800,000.

This was largely because all of the 34 piles under the pier head itself needed replacing as well as 24 along the length. The condition of the timber piles varied, and many had lost a significant proportion of their original cross-section making them unsafe.
The rest of the wood such as the decking, joists and handrails has all been reused where possible to reduce the amount of new timber needed and to maintain the character of the pier.

The condition of the timber framed ‘Roundhouse’ had also deteriorated significantly since 1994 and needed replacing.

Dismantling the Roundhouse

The Roundhouse before Dismantling

Electron Micrograph picture of gribble

Gribble Attack!

Yarmouth Pier needs to be made of timber that is strong enough to support the structure.

It also needs to cope with the wind and waves, abrasion from coastal sediment and the impact of marine creatures, such as the gribble, which eat away at the wood.

Research shows that the only type of wood suitable for the restoration work is greenheart which is a tropical hardwood. Although grown sustainably in Guyana the supply of greenheart is under increasing pressure because the trees take a long time to grow, particularly to the size needed for the pier.

Cross-section through pile showing extent of damage

Sections of the Pier's Greenheart piles reclaimed for future use

Shiver me timbers!

Most of the timber used for the restoration in 2018 is from the Queen Elizabeth Dock in Portsmouth Harbour.

By reclaiming, assessing and cutting the wood to size Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners have been able to reuse quality greenheart
and reduce the pressure on the global resource of tropical hardwood.


Sustainability is a very important element of The Pier’s Tale project.

Both Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners and the National Lottery Heritage Fund are delighted that reusing greenheart timber has
been possible. The use of such important global resources for heritage and recreational value is a subject that is covered with our school,
college and community groups as it will be an important issue to consider for the future sustainability of our activities.

Timber from Portsmoiuth Harbour

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