Shoreham Port

The thinking behind a regionally-imposed idea several years ago to build 10,000 homes on Shoreham Port never quite made sense to me. It is the one place locally where heavy industry can make use of the sea. Once turned residential, it would be lost indefinitely.

Shoreham Port has existed in something like its current form for just over 250 years; since the Shoreham Harbour Act 1760 allowed a cut to be made through the unpredictable mud islands which characterised the mouth of the Adur at that time.

It became home to serious industry in the 1870s when the Brighton and Hove General Gas Company built a gasworks on the site. Southwick Power Station followed in 1906 which was renamed ‘Brighton A Power Station’ when a second facility, Brighton B Power Station, was completed in 1952. Brighton B was easily recognised by its 360ft high chimneys which many locals remember being demolished in 1988 and 1998. The tall white chimneys, and Golden Gate Bridge-style brickwork, drew comparisons with Battersea Power Station.

Today, Shoreham Port successfully operates as a hub for materials for the building trade such as steel, timber and aggregates. Rodney Lunn, who serves as Shoreham Port Authority’s Chief Executuve, is incredibly proud of the port’s 181-tonne Sennebogan crane which arrived last year at a cost of around £1 million. It is not just about the construction industry though as many other industries are served. Cereals from our region are exported, sometimes up to Scotland to make Scottish porridge. More scallops than anywhere else are landed here. And the harbour’s third power station, the gas-fired Shoreham Power Station which opened in 2000 at a cost of £200 million, provides Sussex with electricity. A tunnel beneath the port brings gas in and electricity out.

I recently met with Rodney Lunn and Peter Davies, Shoreham Port Authority’s Development Director, to discuss what the future now holds for the busy harbour. Their incredibly logical plan is to now consolidate the operation by focussing solely on sites within the harbour proper, rather than others which the Authority owns along the mouth of the Adur. Operations will be streamlined by ensuring that all sites around the harbour actually make use the site’s principal asset – the sea.

This is somewhat more feasible than the plan to build 10,000 homes over the port – or, indeed, an 1870s plan to connect the Adur to the Thames by canal.