In 1962 construction of Portland’s Harbour Trust’s new tanker berth on the Lee Breakwater commenced. Eighty-nine steel piles, some of which were 95ft in length, were driven in 44ft of water into a solid limestone bed. Over 2,500 cubic yards of concrete was used in the berth proper, the two trust blocks, two shore arms, a pipe bridge and two retaining walls on the breakwater.
The tanker berth measured 250ft long and 110ft wide, the width being calculated from the centre line of the breakwater. The two shore arms and the pipe bridge measured 45ft by 15ft and the two thrust blocks were 40ft by 26ft.
Heavy fenders were fitted in August 1962. Each fender measured about 8ft by 6ft by 2ft, iron construction with heavy timber padding. They were fastened to the berth by a combination of heavy chains, bolted into the concrete structure, finely balanced and efficiently fitted.
The tanker berth pipeline was completed in May 1963. The job consisted of laying and welding 3,200ft of 8-inch pipes from the new berth, along the breakwater and up the steep gradient to Bentinck Street, where it was taken underground across Bentick Street and connected in the rail way cutting to the existing line leading to the North Portland installations.
The new tanker berth was utilised for the first time on Friday 5 July 1963. Mobil Progress discharged 3,500tons of petroleum. The skipper of Mobil Progress Captain McCormack described the new berth as “a great piece of engineering and a big improvement on the old berth at Ocean Pier”.
THE LEE BREAKWATER
Port of Portland is committed to providing public access to the Lee Breakwater when it is safe to do so, to be enjoyed by the angling, diving and local community.
The Lee Breakwater is open to the public but might be restricted during adverse weather conditions or for safety/security reasons when vessels are berthed on the SL Patterson Berth.
The SL Patterson berth on the Lee Breakwater is used to free up time on the busiest berths, therefore requiring intermittent closure from the tide station gate onwards. From a safety perspective, access to the public is restricted when activity is occurring. Gates are re-opened when the area is considered safe.
In October 2018, the road pavement along the Lee Breakwater was resurfaced and other improvements included the relocation of services and upgrade of lighting. In September 2019, speed calmers were installed to reduce speed and make the area safer for pedestrians.