Monitoring Survey At Southend Pier In Essex

Read about a monitoring survey project THS Concepts undertook on the longest pleasure pier in the world!

Article By: Tom Ayre | Last Update: June 2021


Southend Borough Council


Survey -2 Days


Southend-on-sea, Essex


Tom Ayre / Chris Horton / Scott Watts / David Regan

Built in 1829 and stretching 1.33 miles into the Thames Estuary, Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world. Reaching the end of the pier can be undertaken via walking or utilising the pier train which runs on a single track from the shore to the pier head. The pier has had an interesting history with fire, boats crashing through it, and being requisitioned by the Royal Navy. 

The aging existing diesel-powered pier trains that run up and down on a daily basis are due to be replaced with brand new electric trains. As part of the validation works for the new trains, THS Concepts were asked to undertake a movement monitoring survey on a number of structural piles at quarter points along the pier.

Project Photographs

This involved fixing reflective monitoring targets to the existing iron piles that have been screwed into the foreshore. Due to the age and marine growth on the piles a non intrusive method of fixing had to be undertaken. This was completed by simply zip tying a plastic plate with a target glued to it. 

The monitoring survey had to be undertaken at low tide so as we could safely setup our monitoring survey equipment. The complication with the low tide is the safety and practicality window. We had a 3 hour window to setup, undertake the monitoring and safely get off of the foreshore. Access to the foreshore could only be undertaken from the shore so we had to walk out and return along the soft mud.

The monitoring process involved Southend Pier’s engineering team running a number of different train combinations over various sections of the pier. THS Concepts recorded the vertical deflection of the piles utilising Leica TS15 total stations. 

Overall the monitoring survey went very well. It helped that a very organised plan was in place prior to the works with timings scheduled to within 5-minute intervals. We had to wade through knee-height water at the beginning and end of the survey work so we did get a little wet. Other than the rain the job went very well!