SU7700 : Mouth of Thorney Channel

taken 8 years ago, near to West Thorney, West Sussex, Great Britain

Mouth of Thorney Channel
Mouth of Thorney Channel
The two poles show boats the safe passage through into Thorney Channel. When entering the channel one must keep the red marker to port (left) and the green to starboard (right). A sand bank is well in evidence in front of them at this low tide, this bank would be covered (and therefore more hazardous) at higher tides. A final row of wooden stakes from the unsuccessful dam project can be seen running inland from the port marker. (see description below)
The stakes of Stakes Island :: SU7801

Stakes Island is an unofficial local name for the sandbanks featuring a remarkable double row of wooden stakes. These stakes which stretch for well over a mile were embedded in the sand in about 1870 by a group of farmers who, having seen the Dutch engineers perform similar feats of engineering, decided that they could construct a dam themselves. The purpose of this dam was to silt up the Thorney Channel which runs almost due north out of Chichester Harbour. Once silted up the farmers planned to reclaim the land for agriculture. About 150 men spent six months creating the dam, with the stakes being the framework to hold thousands of tons of Petersfield rock chalk to form an embankment. Their plan however was a little too ambitious and apparently the dam held for just seven weeks after its construction; a gale caused a breach between Cobnor Point and Pilsey and so the Thorney Channel remains to this day. However most of the wooden stakes also remain in testament to their durability, and some of the chalk can also be found.
There are now several breaks in the row - particularly towards the western end, where the original breach occurred. This is where the deepest part of the Thorney Channel is encountered, but the stakes reappear in little clumps further to the west and can be seen "coming ashore" on Thorney Island near the Pilsey Island wildlife sanctuary.
From aerial photos, I have ascertained the following:
The row of stakes form a Y shape with the main row running from SU7789202066 to SU7722900514 (c. 2.34km / 1.45 miles) with a spur making a second crossing of the Thorney Channel from SU7764600954 to SU7710901026 (c. 550m / 600yds)
The stakes seem to be spaced 6' (just under 2m) apart. This means that as there is a double row the number of stakes is approximately 2 x (7656' + 1800') / 6' = 3152 - so in excess of 3,000 stakes were driven into ground.

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SU7700, 9 images   (more nearby search)
Photographer
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Date Taken
Sunday, 30 June, 2013   (more nearby)
Submitted
Monday, 8 July, 2013
Geographical Context
Estuary, Marine 
Place (from Tags)
Chichester Harbour 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 7722 0097 [10m precision]
WGS84: 50:48.1891N 0:54.3324W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 7733 0083
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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Other Tags
Navigation Marker  Stakes  Former Dam  Sand Bar 

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