Heart of port undergoes massive changes

GONE but not forgotten.Port chiefs are planning to ensure that the historic heart of Britain's biggest port will be forever remembered - even though it has now completely vanished from the landscape.

GONE but not forgotten.

Port chiefs are planning to ensure that the historic heart of Britain's biggest port will be forever remembered - even though it has now completely vanished from the landscape.

The Dock Basin was the centre of Felixstowe's 134-year-old port for decades, once the only place cargo could be delivered and then from the 1970s onwards seeing a steady decline in its use as goods were packaged in steel boxes.

Eventually it was completely enclosed by container quays and yards, the modern face of shipping technology removing the basin's use altogether.

Now it has been cut off from the harbour by land reclamation work as part of the current work on the first phase of the port's �250 million expansion project, drained and filled in with thousands of tonnes of material - and it is as if it never existed.

However, once the new quayside is complete the Dock Basin will be seen again - or at least its outline will.

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Port bosses plan to mark the outline, either in paint or different coloured blocks, on the surface of the new container yards as a memento to where it once stood and the huge change the terminal will have undergone.

Work on the massive project is progressing well - though it will not be ready as soon as first hoped.

Head of corporate affairs at the port, Paul Davey said because of the recession the new deep-water berths did not need to be ready by spring and would be complete later in the year.

There was still some piling to be done on the return part of the wall where it rejoins the quay, and the next step would be to start laying some of the 16 million blocks which will form the surface of the new quay and back-up land.

“The first area which will be done will be close to the quayside where the new cranes will be positioned,” he said.

“This will allow the cranes to be delivered and work to start on commissioning them while work then continues on block-paving the rest of the area, which in the long-term will save time.”

Contractors Costain have spent more than a year reshaping the southern part of the terminal at Felixstowe to provide more berths for the world's largest ships.

Phase two of the development has been delayed by around five years. The whole project will increase Felixstowe's capacity to around 5.2 million boxes a year.