The report for Hest Bank Jetty is now available online through the Oxford Archaeology Library.
OA North undertook a topographic survey of Hest Bank Jetty, Lancashire in March 2009. The jetty was exposed during 2004 when changes in direction of the river channels in Morecambe Bay eroded the sands covering the structure. The program of survey consisted of a detailed topographic plan of the jetty and the semi-rectified photographic recording of the principal wall elevations.
My personal highlights of the project included dodging the tides, scraping seaweed off of the masonry, waiting for trains at the level crossing and devouring chips from the nearby chip shop.
The jetty was an integral part of the Hest Bank Canal Company’s scheme to provide passenger traffic and cargo reshipment using Hest Bank as a nodal point at the junction of the canal, the sea and road network in the north-west. The jetty was constructed as a breakwater in 1820 to enable small coasting vessels from Liverpool and Glasgow to discharge their cargoes at Hest Bank, from where they could be transported north and south by canal. The short-lived enterprise exploited the trade with Liverpool mainly between c1819 and 1831.
By 1848 the jetty was being encroached upon by the sands, but there was a secondary use of the structure in the late 1860s-1870s when a target was set up on the northern end of the jetty for militia weapons practice. It is unknown when the structure was finally enveloped by the sands but there is no further evidence that any part of the jetty was exposed above the sands prior to 2004.
The survey revealed that the main structure of the jetty was retained by a sandstone wall on the northern end, equating to the ‘breakwater’ shown on Hennet’s map of Lancashire (1830), and was linked to the shore by a cobble-surfaced causeway. The construction of the jetty is a mixture of layers of large packed cobbles and smaller packed cobbles. There is also evidence that the sloping seaward side of the jetty originally had a well-packed cobble surface to dissipate wave action. Erosion by storms, tides, and stone scavenging have damaged the upper surfaces of the jetty, displaced some of the sandstone wall and parapet, and removed much of the cobbled surfaces.