ICE Essex Members Visit London Gateway Port

On Thursday 14th July, 22 local members of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and I visited London Gateway in Coryton, Essex to view the ongoing Phase 1 Port construction works.  I had organised the visit in my capacity as Chairman of the Essex Branch of the ICE.  London Gateway is owned by DP World, one of the world’s largest marine terminal operators.  The  ICE are on twitter at @ICE-Engineers and ICE Essex at @ICE_Essex.

Location of London Gateway.

London Gateway is a unique development that will combine the UK’s newest deep-sea container port with Europe’s largest logistics park, using world leading technology to increase productivity. Situated on the north bank of the River Thames, London Gateway will provide unrivalled deep-sea shipping access for the world’s leading businesses at the heart of the country’s largest consumer market just 10 miles from the M25 motorway.

Visualisation of new port and logistics park.

Back in September 2010, London Gateway presented an evening lecture on the port development.  You can read a blog write-up of that meeting and learn more about the Port and its  associated Logistics Park here.

Laing O’Rourke (LOR) and Dredging International JV ‘LORDI’ are 3 years into a 6 year £400 million project for London Gateway to construct the first phase of the port. Enabling works to various jetties is complete, reclamation works are well advanced and construction of the quay using diaphragm walls has started. Laing O’Rourke can be found on twitter at @LaingORourke.

Aerial photo April 2011

It was the diaphragm walling that I was particularly keen to see as it is a construction technique that is going to be used extensively in London in the next few years on many projects but mainly on the £15 billion Crossrail project.  More info on diaphragm walling can be found here on Bachy Soletanche’s website.  Bachy Soletanche are the specialist contractor actually doing the work at London Gateway.  Bachy Soletanche are also on twitter at @BachySoletanche.

The party was given an introductory presentation on the project before venturing out on site.  Darren Potter, LOR Project Director, introduced the project then handed over to LOR Site Engineer Luke O’Rafferty and LOR Head of Technical Services Greg Cooper who elaborated on some of the details of the construction works in progress. Luke is also a twitter user and can be found at @Luke (great handle btw)

Greg Cooper, Darren Potter and Luke O'Rafferty introducing the project

Construction of a quay using diaphragm walling techniques is not new, but has not been used extensively in the UK previously.  To construct the quay wall the area first needs to be filled to above water level with material to allow the quay wall to be installed.  The fill behind the quay wall then becomes the fill under the quayside areas.  The main quay wall is then installed in the same way as would be carried out on any site and a capping beam constructed on top.  This wall needs to be anchored back and this is normally done using a second diaphragm wall set back from the first with steel tie bars connecting the two.  The anchor wall also has a capping beam constructed on top.

The two lines of quay wall also double as the support for the enormous quayside container cranes so the capping beams have the necessary rails and infrastructure cast into them.  Once the quay wall, anchor wall and tie bars are complete, the fill in front of the quay wall is dredged out leaving the quayside complete.  Fenders and other ancillary equipment are then attached to complete the work.  A typical section is included below for the London Gateway quay wall.  This is illustrated below.

Features of Diaphragm Wall quay construction

At London Gateway the main quay wall is 1.5m wide and 48.5-42.0m deep and constructed in 6m long panels.  The anchor wall is set back 35m from the quay wall and is 0.8m wide and 26.5-22.0m deep and also constructed in 6m long panels .  The tie bars are at 1.0m centres, are 117-130mm in diameter and are 8.0-9.0m deep.  The Phase 1 port sees 1,250m of quay constructed in this manner.

The party then took a coach trip out to the site accompanied by  Luke and Greg, and Client Maritime Engineering Manager David Lind.  Luckily the weather was excellent and the group were able tour the site seeing an expanse of sand and gravel – evidence of the huge reclamation works in progress! The main focus of the visit was to see the three Bachy Soletanche diaphragm wall teams installing what will be the new quay wall and anchor wall.

All who attended the visit found it extremely interesting and enjoyable and many thanks go to London Gateway and Laing O’Rourke for organising the visit.  Further visits will undoubtedly be organised in future to see the later stages of the work.

A selection of photographs of the visit are included below.  Further photographs can be viewed on my Picasaweb photo sharing website here.

Diaphragm Wall cages and plant
Diaphragm Wall rig digging under bentonite slurry
Temporary rock armouring to reclaimed fill area
The visiting party with diaphragm wall equipment behind
Used bentonite lagoon
Crane withdrawing the full length stop-end

One Reply to “ICE Essex Members Visit London Gateway Port”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: