Coordinates: 50°20′2.98″N 4°8′55.18″W / 50.3341611°N 4.1486611°W
Plymouth breakwater from Kingsand
showing the 1844 lighthouse and the Breakwater Fort beyond.
Plymouth breakwater, viewed from above Kingsand.
Plymouth Breakwater is a 1,560-metre (1,710 yd) stone breakwater protecting Plymouth Sound and the anchorages near Plymouth, Devon, England. It is 13 metres (43 ft) wide at the top and the base is 65 metres (213 ft). It lies in about 10 metres (33 ft) of water. Around 4 million tons of rock were used in its construction in 1812 at the then-colossal cost of £1.5 million (equivalent to £90.1 million today).
In 1806, as the Napoleonic Wars impended, Lord St. Vincent commissioned John Rennie and Joseph Whidbey to plan a means of making Plymouth Bay a safe anchorage for the Channel Fleet. In 1811 came the order to begin construction; Whidbey was appointed Acting Superintending Engineer. This task required great engineering, organizational and political skills, as the many strictly technical challenges were complicated by the significant resources devoted to the project, from which various parties evidenced a desire for advantage. Nearly 4,000,000 (four million) tons of stone were quarried and transported, using about a dozen ships innovatively designed by the two engineers. A paper to the Royal Society suggests that Whidbey found many fossils as a result of the quarrying necessary to the breakwater.
The foundation stone was laid on Shovel Rock on August 8, 1812. It followed a line over Panther Rock, Shovel and St. Carlos Rocks, and was sufficiently completed by 1814 to shelter ships of the line. Napoleon was reported as commenting that the breakwater was a grand thing, as he passed by it on the way to exile on St. Helena in 1815.
Severe storm damage in 1817 and 1824 prompted a change in the profile and height. Whidbey continued to work on the breakwater and other engineering projects, including the breakwater's lighthouse (designed by Walker & Burgess for Trinity House), until retirement around 1830. It was finished by 1841, the final work being finished by Rennie's son, Sir John Rennie. The lighthouse became operational in 1844, and soon afterwards a horse-drawn omnibus was driven from end to end, with a full complement of passengers and accompanied by a military band. A beacon was placed at the eastern end, consisting of a 6-foot (1.8 m) spherical cage on a 17-foot (5.2 m) pole; the cage was designed as a refuge for six shipwrecked sailors.
Plymouth Breakwater Fort
Plymouth Breakwater Fort from inside the Sound
In 1860, a Royal Commission, established by Lord Palmerston, produced a plan for the defence of Plymouth and other Royal Dockyards. The Breakwater Fort was designed to defend the entrances to Plymouth Sound in conjunction with forts and batteries on either shore. Designed by Captain Siborne, work on the oval masonry sea fort started in 1861 and the main structure was completed in 1865. It has its foundations on Shovel Rock and is 35 yards inside the Breakwater. After several changes in plan, the fort was finally armed in 1879 with fourteen 12.5-inch and four 10-inch rifled muzzle-loading guns in armoured casemates. Although the fort had been disarmed before World War I, it served as a signal station, and from 1937, an anti-aircraft training school. It was finally released by the military in 1976.
The Plymouth Breakwater DVD - FULL VERSION. Peter Mitchell: Submerged Productions
Peter Mitchell's fascinating history of the Plymouth Breakwater, "the great national undertaking" in this 45 minute documentary originally released on DVD.
The Worlds first freestanding breakwater was crucial to Englands defeat of Napoleon,and made Plymouth the city it is today.
Plymouth Breakwater - The Great National Undertaking
Plymouth Breakwater is a 1560 metre stone breakwater protecting Plymouth Sound and the anchorages near Plymouth, Devon, England. It is 13 metres wide at ...
Plymouth Breakwater Lighthouse
The MoD lighthouse on Plymouth's Breakwater, Devon, UK. Filmed on a boat so apologies if it makes you sea sick! The Breakwater Fort is also included. This is ...
Lancaster Bomber on Plymouth Breakwater
In 1943, a Lancaster Bomber, returning from a raid on the U-boat pens at Lorient crashed into Plymouth Breakwater. All the crew were killed. the remains of the ...
Fishing 2 miles south of Plymouth breakwater
Fishing 2 miles south of Plymouth breakwater and I still couldn't catch anything!!!
Lightning Plymouth Breakwater video 10th July 15
Slow motion video of Lightning bolts over Plymouth Breakwater. I was out with my Father-In-Law, on his boat, when a thunder and lightning storm rolled in.
Fishing on Plymouth Breakwater
Fishing Plymouth Breakwater Competition.
Plymouth Breakwater Fort dive - S.Devon - 12th April 2015
Due to the weather taking a turn for the worst, and the boat fuelled and ready to go, we were forced to dive behind the sound breakwater on the fort. Constructed ...
Sonardyne Solstice side scan sonar - Plymouth Break Water, UK
This high resolution imagery was collected at Plymouth Break Water by Sonardyne's Solstice side scan sonar. The imagery was obtained in only 7 meters of ...
Thu, 21 Apr 2016 12:07:30 -0700
A brave group of medical colleagues will be taking on the Plymouth Breakwater swim this summer to raise money for charity. The Chestnut Appeal for Prostate Cancer is holding its fifth Breakwater swim in August, an event that attracts hundreds of ...
New York Times
New York Times
Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:52:30 -0700
Competitors aboard the Pen Duick II in 2008. Loick Peyron will sail the Pen Duick II this year. Credit Marcel Mochet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Several top ocean racers are ready for the Transat, the world's oldest solo trans-Atlantic race ...
Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0700
The fleet is scheduled to leave Plymouth breakwater on Monday. The race will end in Brooklyn, where The Transat first finished 56 years ago. Competitors will face towering waves, fog, ferocious winds and the danger of ice drifting down from the Arctic.
Taranaki Daily News
Taranaki Daily News
Wed, 20 Apr 2016 18:31:59 -0700
Extensively damaged by fire in March, New Plymouth's Breakwater Hotel would become a tavern, a New Zealand Breweries spokesman said in Wellington. Using the nom de plume "Four Mugs", four South Taranaki women, Mesd R Thomson and V Ward of ...
Sun, 16 Aug 2015 09:41:15 -0700
Construction of Plymouth breakwater began in the early 19th Century to protect British ships anchoring in Plymouth Sound during the Napoleonic wars. It took about 30 years to complete and about four million tonnes of rock were used in its construction.
Wed, 30 Mar 2016 01:26:15 -0700
DOUBLE Special Olympic silver medalist, Steven Dodd, will be kayaking his way to the Breakwater and back for cancer. Special Olympics Plymouth and District athlete Steven, is set to take part in the Kayakathon this weekend, all in aid of the 366 Cancer ...
Wed, 06 Apr 2016 05:56:15 -0700
The weather remained dry for the challenge which saw the team kayak from the PDSSA Centre, Commercial Wharf on the Barbican, out to the Plymouth Breakwater. The 366 Cancer Challenge is an ongoing leap year of fundraising and ideas include: 366 ...
Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Sun, 03 Apr 2016 13:26:15 -0700
Paying homage to The Transat's origins, the 14th edition will set sail from Plymouth – the first city to play host to the race. From the start at the Plymouth breakwater on May 2, the fleet will race 3,000 miles to Brooklyn, NY, where The Transat first ...
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