Recently we announced some exciting news to share….and since then we have discovered some even more interesting heritage interpretation news to share with you. So here we go…..
In a recent posting – found on this link – archive volunteer and professional conservator, Helen explained how she had carefully gone about opening and unfolding precious but very fragile engineering drawings of the Pier from the 1860s. All that hard work was so that archive and digitisation volunteer, Michael, could go about the difficult task of photographing the large document in 6 sections and then magically – well digitally! – stick them together back into one image.
You can read more about Michael’s work on this link. Below he tells us a little more about the technical ‘wizardry’ he used to photograph this large and very fragile document (owned and on loan from a private collector) so that an image can be held safely in the Pier Digital Archive for future reference and made available to the local community and wider public.
Below is the image of the 1863 drawing submitted to the Board of Trade for approval to build a pier at Clevedon.
The very fragile document measuring 99cm by 65cm is made of a delicate tracing paper type – material which Helen has used her conservator skills to flatten and store rolled between sheets of acid-free polyester film. With over 150 years of storage, the plan has torn in places and has split on some of the folds.
The photographing was done in a north-facing room to reduce ambient light giving with less shadows. To create the composite digital image, the drawing was rolled out onto a flat surface, being very careful where the paper was more severely worn. The camera was setup on a tripod with flash and light diffuser box to minimise flare and reflections. The drawing and camera were positioned so that several overlapping shots of the plan could be taken with a piece of card under the plan to give a consistent background. A selection of the overlapping photos were then loaded into the photo editing software. Through a process of ‘trial and error’, the software merges the images into one single panoramic image. The quality of the output is dependent on how well the images match for size, colour, contrast… This means that photos need to be retaken and remerged to optimise the final image. Over 60 photos were taken to find the best result. The final image is very large at 386MB (or 267 of the 3.5inch floppy discs if you are old enough to remember them !!). Luckily it condenses down to 13MB for viewing.
With the plan finally digitised to a high quality it was possible for the Pier’s archivists to have a closer look and zoom in for a closer look at interesting features. There will be plenty of opportunity to do this in more detail but an immediate and fascinating little point of interest emerged to share. It also led to a bit of Clevedon sea front sleuthing to find out an interesting bit of the story of building the Pier. On the plan can be seen the outline of a house, shown cross-hatched in the image below, near the shore end of the pier. It has a little M written just to its right and a mark on a front face of the building.
This was intriguing and apparently unexplained until a note was found on the plan which says the following:
DATUM LINE for sections 100 Feet below stone door step of house at point marked thus M on Plan. The said step being 1 2/5 Feet below the lower edge of half round moulding on stone side pillar of Doorway thus…….. followed by a cross sectional image of the foot of a pillar with a moulding sitting on a step.
Of course, the burning question was…..could that all important feature that defines the Datum Line for sections drawn on the plan still be there?
Michael went down to the seafront and looked at the front of the building now known as Campbells Landing, opposite the Pier Tollhouse.
And sure enough he found the pillar, with its moulding sitting on a step in the doorway at the left of the building.
Unfortunately, this did not fully confirm the story as Michael had forgotten that the plan had specified a measurement of 1 and 2/5 feet from the underside of moulding to the step. Not having a ruler showing fifths of a foot, he converted this to 42.7cm in C21 units.
Another trip armed with a tape measure finally tied up the story, to within 0.5cm, and confirmed…that this is the doorstep used as the surveyor’s datum line or reference point when drawing up plans for the Pier in the early 1860s.
Its intriguing to think what else we may learn from the old plans of Clevedon Pier as the work continues with flattening and digitising them so that all will be able to see them in the future. The plans have been stored for over 150 years and are in the hands of a private owner who has allowed the Pier Archive to digitise them to share with the community before they are returned.
Elsewhere we’ve shared information about the Archive’s Work In Lockdown including the work of Conservator Helen. We were also lucky to have Helen work on the original Pier Engineering drawings sent for Board of Trade Approval in 1864 – getting them ready for digitisation. You can read more about the digitisation on this link.
The drawings had been stored folded for over a hundred years and needed very special care and attention. Helen has offered to share a summary of that work …… see below.
Clevedon Pier Engineers Drawings
Conservation flattening report
Before commencing treatment, each drawing was examined to look for weak points, which were mainly the folds, but also one item had a particularly vulnerable area around a wax seal.
The two smaller items were dealt with first: there were gently but very gradually opened onto flat blotter sheets. As each fold was opened (often only partly at first) light weights would be used to hold the document in place (avoiding pressure on the folds themselves) and it would be left like this to relax for some time, often overnight. Then the next fold would be opened in a similar way, and so on until slowly the entire document was unfolded. As the drawings relaxed into their new shape, more weight would be added and gradually some weight moved onto the folds themselves. If necessary controlled amounts of moisture could be applied to the folds using a water brush to help them relax.
The larger items were unfolded using a humidity chamber. To create this, the drawing was supported on a layer of Sympatex over lightly dampened blotter. The Sympatex layer controls the moisture, allowing humidity to reach the document without it getting wet. This 3-layer bundle was sandwiched between two sheets of clear polythene, the upper layer gently laid on top and weighted around the edge to keep the humidity in. Because the polythene is clear, the document could be carefully watched during the humidification process. As the item relaxed, the top polythene layer was peeled back, the drawing carefully unfolded a little, and then re-covered. Eventually, the plan was allowed to slowly dry in its new gently flattened state.
One of the large drawings actually comprised three layers of tracing paper which had been attached together at the upper corner by a red wax seal and ribbon. Unfortunately, where the item had been stored folded, the layers in contact with the top of the wax seal had become adhered to it. Therefore, before flattening could commence the folded layers had to be separated from the upper surface of the wax seal, using carefully applied and controlled heat coupled with small tools.
Once each plan was gently flattened, they were laid onto a sheet of archival polyester and rolled around a tube, held in place with cotton tying tapes, for transport and storage.
George Double was the builder appointed to rebuild the Pier Head and Landing Stage at Clevedon Pier in 1891. Recently, the pier archive team have had some interesting correspondence with people trying to save another George Double structure – a bridge in Boxted, Essex.
Below are a few titbits about the reopening of Clevedon Pierhead. Further on is some information about George Double, Boxted Bridge and links to Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment in London.
The new Clevedon Pier Head and Landing Stage was officially reopened in April 1893. The Pier Archive has some interesting images and newspaper reports on the event shown below.
George Double, Boxted Bridge and Cleopatra’s Needle
The Pier was contacted by the folks of Boxted in Essex who are campaigning to try and save their village bridge built by George Double. You can read all about their campaign and their pretty bridge on this link. They would be grateful for any support or interest in saving their bridge.
For Clevedon and the Pier it is intriguing to learn that George Double also had dealings with erecting the Egyptian obelisk, known as Cleopatra’s Needle, on the Embankment in London. The Boxted Save Our Bridge campaigner, Lucinda, sent us this interesting image and newspaper clippings to share. Clearly, George Double was a busy and well thought of builder in the 1890s and travelled all over the country to build fascinating structures.
The Specification of Works for Providing, Erecting and Maintaining Clevedon Pier in 1867 (Copy) is a fascinating and fragile document which the Archive has been privileged to borrow from its private owner and digitise for the public to be able to see and read. In a mere 13 foolscape pages, it specifies the quality of the wrought iron work, timber, painting and foundations, the quantities of materials with costs, as well as the standards that the contract was to be delivered to and last but, of course, not least details about the all important ‘Modes and Times of Payment.’ It is interesting that 9 pages are taken up with contract conditions and payment details leaving a few precious pages describing how to build the foundations, legs and decking. Below are images and transcriptions of the entire document. If you have any further information or questions pleasure feel free to contact the firstname.lastname@example.org
Front cover and page 1 – ‘The Contract.’
Transcription of Page 1
Specification for providing, erecting and maintaining.
This Contract comprehends the supply and delivery to the Company of all materials plant tools and machines and the construction of all works of every description whether temporary or permanent which may be necessary for the entire completion of a wrought iron Pier at Clevedon as described by the accompanying Drawings No. 22.214.171.124.5 and 6 respectively. And also the upholding of all the works during their construction. The whole in consideration of the payment of one gross sum and the redelivery to the Contractors of all materials plant tools and machinery upon the works and not forming part of the same. The value of which forms part of the consideration for the performance of this Contract. The whole being subject to the terms and conditions of this Specification and of a Contract deed to be entered into between the Contractor and the Company – the intent and meaning of this Contract being that the Company shall………..continued on page 2……….provide such Lands as are requisite for the site of the permanent works and that the Contractor shall in consideration of the gross sum hereinafter named construct complete and maintain the works in all respects according to the Drawings and Specifications and deliver them to the company in complete and perfect condition.
Specification for Wrought Iron Work and Cast Iron Work
Wrought Iron Work
Specimens of all Iron work shall be submitted to the Engineers for their approval and the very best quality shall in all cases be used, the Plates being equal to the best Staffordshire boiler plates. The bar angle and T iron being not inferior to the best BB – Merchant bar – All Bolts nuts rivets straps and ties being wrought from Iron not inferior to the best S.C. Crown Iron.
All Ironwork to be submitted to such tests as the Engineers may deem advisable and in no case to be passed if failing with less then 20 tons per square inch tensile strain.
The Joints in all ironwork may be reduced in number and placed further apart if the Contractor desires to do so but all joints must be made with fair Culling (?) surfaces truly filed or planed to contact.
The Barlow rails shall weight 80lbs per yard each for all raking piles.
For all vertical piles the Barlow rail shall weight 70lbs per yard each the two rails forming one pile shall be brought into true contact and riveted together 3/4″ rivets 6″ pitch the joints shall then be caulked and made watertight. The rails shall be of Iron of similar manufacture to that in use on the South West Railway for best Barlow Rails. All the Rods with screwed ends to have the ends swelled to contain the full depth of the threads.
All Cast Iron to be subject to such tests as the Engineers may approve and to be painted twice at the place of erection and not before the Engineers shall have inspected it.
Timber and Painting Specification
The whole of the timber to be of the best Baltic Pine, Red deal free from unsound knots shakes sap or any other imperfection. Any timber used below low water line shall be Creosoted with 8 lbs of approved Creosote per Cubic feet of timber.
The timber planking of the Deck shall be of planks not less than 16” x 11” x 3” in each (side?) and shall be laid close so as to be perfectly tight the ends shall be cut to a scarf joint and cross railed.
Each plank shall be secured to its joist with five nails at each crossing thereof the nail being in all cases twice the thickness of the plank board or batten through which it passes. The whole of the rough timber work to be executed in the best style of rough or Ships Carpentry, that is undressed where not visible but wrought perfectly true at all surfaces which are in contact.
All prominent and visible parts of the timber (except in the fender piles) and wherever the surface is to be painted to be Jack planed or Machine planed.
It is moreover to be distinctly understood that the price given for timbre shall include all nails and spikes and Coach screws which may be required, also all waste timber which may be required for scarfing and joints the dimensions for payment being taken from the Drawings net – The price is also to include all fixing and driving complete.
The whole of the Wrought Iron to be painted one in Oils before leaving the works. Also to have a second Coat of approved Colour when fixed. The Backs of the Seats and also the Seats to be painted twice in Oils of approved Color.
Posting 4: Foundations Spec
In slightly less than 1 and a half foolscap pages the foundations for Clevedon Pier were specified. These instructions were accompanied by drawings which the Archive sadly does not hold. If they exist it would be great to bring the Specification and Drawings together. In the meantime if any civil or marine engineers out there can draw what these words say please contact email@example.com. Thank you.
The foundations of each pile in Mud and Clay to be carried out as shown in drawing subject to such alterations as the Engineers may think proper to make. The Wrought iron pile joist shall weight 30 lbs per foot run and shall be driven until it will not move 1/4″ with a blow from a 20 Cwt Monkey falling 10 feet on the rake of 1 in 10 – After it shall have been driving on each side thereof two 9″ piles shall be driven until they do not move more than 1/4″ each with a blow of a 20 Cwt Monkey falling 8 feet. They shall each be shod with a side Shoe of the form shown weighing not less then 18 lbs each. After the three shall have been driven a wrought iron Collar shall be dropped over them and slid down until it is stopped by a Pin – two Iron wedges shall then be dropped into it and driven with a heavy Rod from above. The Barlow Rails shall be firmly secured by plates, strap bolts and otherwise as shown on Drawing, the pile heads being carefully cut above low water mark to receive Cast iron Shoes.
Where the pile is to be secured to the Rock this shall be done by means of a wrought Iron Rod 4″ in diameter which shall be let into the Rock to such depth as the Engineers may deem necessary and secured by wrought iron keys driven in by a blow from a Monkey of 5 Cwt – the whole of the space around the rod being filled in with Iron Cement of the best quality hammered in with a flogging hammer. The whole to be executed to the satisfactions of the Engineers or their Assistant.
The five pages of General Conditions hold a vast array of information about the contract to build Clevedon Pier as well as the engineering specification of works. It includes quantities of materials that have been identified as required for the project as well as a schedule of prices which will be paid for the work and, in summary, that the contractor is responsible for everything! Images of the five pages are shown below and below them is a transcription of their contents.
It is assumed that the quantities of certain of the materials required for the execution of this Contract amount to:
Wrought iron painted twice in Oils delivered at Clevedon on Site of the proposed works to be sent in such lengths as may be divided by the Engineers……………………………………………………………………..348 Tons 2 Cwt 2Grs
Cast Iron painted twice in Oils and delivered at Clevedon and fixed ……………………………………………………………………………6 Tons 9 Cwt
Timber fixed in place complete with fastenings, small scantlings, leats and backs………………………………………………………………..956 C Ft
Large Scantlings ………………………………………………7372 C Ft
Creosoted piles in foundations …………………………….….660 C Ft
And if in the finished state executed in all respects according to the Specification and the Drawings therein referred to or to such further instructions or Drawings as may from time to time be furnished by the Engineers it shall be found that the quantities of these works computed from the Drawings exceed or fall short of the quantities above enumerate, the excess or deficiency shall be paid for or allowed in increase or diminution of the Contract sum as the case may be at the following Schedule namely:
Wrought Iron at rate of £15. 10 per Ton
Cast Iron at rate of …….£9. per Ton
Timber. Small scantlings at 5s/6d per Cubic Foot Joist Fenders and Decking at 3s /3d per Cubic Foot Creosoted Piles at 4/ per Cubic Ft
Fixing Superstructure and providing for all Contingencies and incidental Works £4 per Ton.
The Contractor is to provide copies of the Drawings and Specifications for his own use.
The Contractor shall at his own cost employ on the works during the execution of this Contract a competent person or persons approved by the Engineers to set out and direct the works in detail and the Contractor shall at all times furnish the Engineers with all labour assistance and materials necessary for setting out or measuring the works at his the Contractor’s cost.
The works are to be carried out according to the fair interpretation and meaning of this Specification and Drawings and should there hereafter appear to be any discrepancy between the Scale attached to the Drawing and the written dimensions or between the Drawings and this Specification the terms of this Specification are to be taken in preference to the drawings and written dimensions in the Drawings in preference to dimension by Scale. But should there be any difference of opinion on this point as to the mode of carrying on any work or the quantities or periodical quantities of work to be done or provided by thereof such dispute shall be decided by the Engineer whose decision shall be final and conclusive.
The Contractor in consideration of the payment of the Contract sum is to provide all necessary moorings tackle temporary staging chains crabs lights Matchmen buoys scaffold Derricks lifts slings and everything which may be required for the dur and proper execution and completion of the work. He must satisfy himself as to the nature of the foundation and the sufficiency of the works as specified. He must assume all risks of accidents or damages from any cause and must include the cost of the incidental works necessary for the entire fulfilment of the Contract whether particularly referred to or not in the Specification.
The whole of the works and materials as well as the mode of execution is to be under the entire control supervision and direction of the Engineers Richard James Ward and John William Grover who shall have full power to alter vary enlarge or diminish the quantities of any of the works subject to the conditions hereinafter specified.
Any machinery tools or materials brought on the site of the works or on the adjoining Beach shall immediately thereupon become the absolute property of the Company and the contractor shall have no property therein and no right to use the same except for the purposes of this Contract and as the Agent of the Company but if the works be duly completed or if during the progress of the works it shall appear to the Engineers that any portions of the plant are not required for the further progress of the works the Company will deliver such plant or such portions of it to the Contractors as part of the consideration for the performance of the Contract.
If the Contractor should not proceed with sufficient expedition in the performance of the works or not execute the same in compliance with the terms of this Specification or become Insolvent or be declared Bankrupt it shall be in the power of the Company to take the works wholly or in part out of his hands and to complete the same at his cost in all respects.
Modes and Times of Payment
Modes and Times of Payment
If the works be completed and certified by the Engineers as being completed according to the Drawings and Specifications on or before the 1st day of March 1868 then the Company will pay to the Contractors in the manner hereinafter specified the sum of £8,500 for the performance of his Contract subject to the deduction or allowances hereinbefore provided for.
If the works be completed as above on or before the 1st April but subsequently to the 1st March then the Company will pay to the Contractor the sum of £8.400 for the performance of his Contract subject to the deductions or allowances hereinbefore provided for.
If the works be not completed as above until after the 1st of April 1868 then the Company will pay to the Contractor for the performance of his part of the Contract such a sum as the Engineers certify to be fairly due to him in accordance with these presents. Calculating the same on the basis of deducting £20 for each week’s delay after the 1st April. All payments to the Contract under this Contract shall be made in the following manner viz 84 per cent in Cash and 16 per cent in Shares bearing preferential interest at the rate of £5 per Cent per annum such interest commencing from the date of the Engineers final Certificate being given.
The Company are to have the option of substituting Cash wholly or in part for shares and in the event of their electing so to do the amount of Cash to be paid in lieu of shares is to be calculated in the proportion of £80 Cash to £100 Shares. Any payment of Shares which may be made under this Contract during the progress of the works shall be satisfied by a letter from the Directors of the company undertaking to deliver proper Certificates for the same upon the completion of the Contract. Such undertaking being subject to the exercise of the Company’s right at any time within 3 months after the Engineers final Certificate shall have been given to substitute Cash for Shares on the terms above specified.
The whole of the works herein specified and everything incident to or contingent thereon are comprised in and will be paid for by the gross sum defined above in addition to the plant and materials remaining on the works which sum subject to all the payments and deductions which by any of the terms of this Specification are to be made shall become due only after the entire completion of the Contract and Certificate of the Engineer but during the progress of the works advances or payments on account will be made to the Contractor from time to time as hereinafter mentioned – such payments however in no way to affect any question in the ultimate settlement of the Account or to be considered as proof or admission of any particular work or amount of work having been executed, but once in each month or as near thereto as the state of the works and the reasonable convenience of the Company’s Engineers will admit. The works executed within that period and any materials brought to the works and in the opinion of the Engineers necessary for the immediate progress of the same will be measured or estimated by the Engineer unless periods of measurement and payments to be agreed upon between the Company and the Contract and the Contractor will be paid on account of the Contract sum such amount as the Engineer may recommend (it being intended but not stipulated) that such advances or payments on account should be equal to about 90 per cent of the cost as estimated by the Engineers according to the total Contract sum and the work duly executed during such month or executed in addition to the works on which the previous estimates may have been made subject however to any deduction on account of ascertained damages or otherwise for which the Contractor may render himself liable and such payment to be made within 7 days of the date of the Engineers recommendation above referred to the remaining 10 per cent will be retained by the Company until the completion of the works at which time and as a condition precedent upon a Certificate in writing being given by the Engineers that the Contractor has duly performed his Contract and upon the Contractor giving a sufficient release to the Company of all claims under or in respect of anything connected with the Contract the residue shall be paid to him.
Having a flagstaff on the end of the pier was part of the earliest plans. In June 1863, plans were submitted to the Board of Trade for approval and in 1864, the Clevedon Pier Order was passed allowing the building of a pier. As a structure jutting into the sea consideration had to be given to the safety of ships moving up and down the Bristol Channel. By May 28th 1867, the Board of Trade approved the plans for the new Clevedon pier. They included a drawing of a large and very visible flagstaff at the end of the pier. Photo 1.
The Pier Archive also holds a small, pencil drawing of the proposed flagstaff – provenance and date unknown – but probably nearer to 1869. It gives the dimensions of the proposed new flagstaff as being 56’ high and 16’ across with a drawing of a flag on top. The flag is intriguing. It shows the letters C – P – C representing the Clevedon Pier Company quartered with the Union Jack. Photo 2. Its not known if such a flag was ever commissioned or used on the end of the pier.
When Clevedon Pier was officially opened in 1869, the flagstaff was taking its prominent role on the end of the new pier. It can clearly be seen in an engraving of the new pier from the time made by Newman & Co of Watling Street in London and entitled The New Pier Clevedon. Photo 3.
The Pier Archive also holds a very small but exquisitely beautiful glass paperweight containing a hand painted image of the pier including the flagstaff at the end. Photo 4 shows the paperweight held at an angle to enable the viewer to see the flagstaff with its wonderful bright red flag. Also note the archivist’s thumb for scale.
Neither of the flagstaffs in Photos 3 and 4 look quite like how the flagstaff was intended in the original drawings. Zooming in on Photo 3 gives an idea of how it must have looked at the time, unless Mr Newman of Watling Street’s engravers employed too much artistic licence. Photo 3A.
The flagstaff was used on the pier head until its rebuilding in 1893, after which time it was removed and set up by the thrifty Local Board of Health on one of the points along the coast of Clevedon, by the Bandstand near the Green Beach. The Cotterell family, who lived in Coleridge Road at that time, used to compile and post a newsletter to other family members and their June 1894 letter reported: ‘The flagstaff that was on the pier at Clevedon is now fixed near the Green Beach’. This part of the Clevedon seafront was known for many years as Flagstaff Point and the Copse Road Chapel held their children’s Sunday services beside it for many years. Photo 5.
At some point, a new flagstaff was placed at the end of the pier and Ralph Fryer, long time chairman of the Clevedon Piers Supporters Club, is fondly remembered for always making sure the flag was raised every time a boat came into the pierhead. Photo 6 shows Ralph raising the Union Jack as the famous paddle steamer The Waverley – funnels just visible in the background – is sitting alongside. This flagstaff was lost off the end of the pier during a very bad storm but Ralph managed to rescue the flagstaff and carried it home for safekeeping to his garden where it stood for many years.
And like the very best of stories the story of the Clevedon Pier Flagstaff has a happy ending because, one day, after its long and adventurous life the pier flagstaff finally ‘came home’. When Ralph Fryer passed away his family decided to donate the old flagstaff to the Pier Archive. Ralph’s daughter Jackie and hubby Steve carried the flagstaff down to the seafront where it was stored for a short time at Waterloo House. It was decided to give the flagstaff a permanent new home. Now it can be seen in Pier Copse just above the Pier Ice Cream kiosk opposite the Pier Tollhouse. And it is still flying a flag – the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust flag. Photo 7.
We’d love to hear your stories or see your photos, newsclippings etc. that you might have about the Clevedon Pier Flagstaff and its rich and varied history. If you have anything to share please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to Jane Lilly for help with compiling this story.