Naval Dockyards Society

Exploring the civil branches of navies & their material culture

Threat to Portsmouth Harbour

Chris Donnithorne

Over a 30 year career as a naval officer, Chris Donnithorne became very familiar with Portsmouth Harbour, and he has subsequently spent as much time again carrying out archival research in the local area.

In this carefully argued and evidenced paper, Donnithorne demonstrates that the integrity of Blockhouse Point on the western side of the harbour entrance is ‘at risk due to rapid acceleration in seashore erosion, almost certainly caused by recent dredging, which included a significant part of Hamilton Bank, immediately to the South of the Fort.’ (p. 29).   Effectively the dredging has destabilised the harbour entrance, leading potentially to the loss of the deep-water harbour.

Apart from these urgent issues,  Donnithorne argues (p. 45) that failure to apply a holistic planning approach to the entire harbour over many decades, or even centuries, has resulted (and continues to result) in damage to the harbour as a whole.

In looking to the future, Donnithorne asks: ‘For Portsmouth Harbour, is there a single organisation, tasked to safeguard the harbour, and capable of holding all the disparate decision makers to account?’

He concludes that: ‘In the absence of any such organisation, thought should be given to the introduction of a democratically accountable Harbour Board with just such powers.’

Dr Ann Coats
30 November 2020 (updated 20 December 2020)