Amey’s Defence team deliver unique Pier Cellars project at HMS Raleigh

05 May 2021
Two images of the Pier Cellars project. One of a tunnel and the other of a pathway by a river.

Amey sits at the heart of the UK’s Armed Forces community, providing and maintaining critical infrastructure and facilities and supporting Service families nationwide. But did you know that we also maintain, on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), many interesting and unusual MOD assets across the UK? 

Pier Cellars, a satellite site to HMS Raleigh in Cornwall is one such site, and our South West team recently completed an unusual project to repair the sea wall and part of an assault course on a site that is steeped in history. 

Pier Cellars is a former Elizabethan pilchard harbour that was developed in 1888 as a purpose-built Brennan Torpedo Station and was operational until 1903. The original structure was built of shuttered concrete and brickwork, consisting of a series of terraced buildings and underground chambers which included an engine room, dynamo room, wire winding store and torpedo room with a launching slipway.  

The site has since been used by HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy’s nearby New Entry training establishment in Torpoint, as a base for adventurous training activities for more than 50 years and is an integral part of the Royal Navy’s Phase 1 training programme. The harbour and surrounding slopes form part of a challenging assault course and the basic accommodation provides a base for outward bound type activities that serve to develop the trainees as individuals and as team members.   

Our team had to adhere to extremely stringent risk assessments and method statements given the location of the wall’s proximity to the sea and cope with the physical rigours of climbing up and down the 90 steep steps to the harbour from the access road – site access was a major challenge. The team also had to take into consideration their proximity to a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) and were careful to ensure that works did not impact this important conservation area.   

Ed Dunkley, Amey’s Project Manager said, “The wall had been badly damaged by the sea seven years ago so was in a pretty poor state. We were very keen to keep the original appearance of this historic wall, so the first stage was to take it down and set the stones aside for re-use. The wall was then reconstructed using blockwork and then faced with as much of the original stonework as possible.” 

The wall repairs were completed in conjunction with works on the assault course and the installation of a new rope drop platform. This element of the assault course was quite precarious, and our team had to be extremely careful as they were working next to a sheer 30 foot drop down to the harbour. 

Despite the unique challenges that this project presented, our teams delivered on time and to budget and the results were well received by the Unit. 

Cdr Sean Brady RN, the Executive Officer of HMS Raleigh said, The work on the rope drop has been excellent and has revitalised the assault course for our young naval trainees. The sea wall has been reinstated to a really good standard and is expected to last for many years to come”.