Lobster pots

Project Profile

Project Title :

North Dock, Seaham

Client :

Archaeo-Environment Ltd

Type of Work :

Built Heritage Services

Project Gallery 

Old capstan on Seaham Harbour   Capstan on Seaham Harbour  
Inner harbour arm   View across North Dock  
Fishermans' cabin on the dock side   North Dock Seaham lobster pots  


North Dock

Where the boats came in!

NAA were commissioned by Archaeo-Environment Ltd to undertake an archaeological survey of North Dock Seaham as part of a Conservation Management Plan in advance of the regeneration of the historic 18th century Georgian harbour. Built as part of the original coal port in 1828, the North Dock had once formed the economic and social heart of the community but following the opening of the adjacent Seaham port facility and the closure of the surrounding collieries, it had sadly slipped into decline, finally being fenced off and closed to public access in the 1980s.

Despite falling into disrepair, much of North Dock's historic structure has survived relatively unaltered. The expansion of the neighbouring South Dock in the late 19th century saw an end to any development of the smaller North Dock, a factor which had contributed to the exceptional preservation of the late Georgian, early Victorian coal port. Such a relatively intact harbour is now quite rare in England, and its association with a newly built 'planned' town of Seaham made it of particular significance. A number of other prominent engineers and architects of the period were also closely associated with the Dock, most notably John Rennie and John Dobson, the architect associated with Newcastle's Grainger Town

Working as part of a multi-disciplined team NAA recorded, photographed and assessed the condition of the various dock structures, building up a comprehensive site inventory and accompanying GIS. This included standing structures such as the lighthouse, lifeboat house, cookhouse and harbour walls as well as fixtures and fittings including: winches, railings, crane bases, lime kilns, staithes, boat ties, bollards and rail track. In some cases, such as railings and boat ties, various typologies were identified which varied across the site; these variations reflecting key phases of dock development.

Information from the survey was fed into the final CMP, contributing to a detailed analysis of the significance of the site and the formation of a series of practical policies and management pathways to guide future development at the dock. This helped secure a �2.5 million HLF grant supporting the regeneration of the dock which today incorporates a new marina with mooring for 80 vessels.