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Harbour Trust Still Seeking Funding for Permanent Pier Repair

The St Andrews Harbour Trust remains short of the adequate funds needed to repair the pier at St Andrews Harbour, which was damaged during Storm Babet. This damage included the washing away of a historic slipway as well as part of the cliff and roadway. Following the storms, maintenance checks revealed structural damage along the pier and its north side. Since then, the pier has been closed to the public until further assessment and repair is carried out. Temporary work on the pier took place over the winter period.

On this temporary repair, a spokesperson for St Andrews Harbour Trust said, “While it cannot be called pretty, it should stop further erosion of the cliff face until we can raise sufficient funds for a permanent repair. Some stones from the pier have been recovered and are saved, but another project will be required to recover the rest of the stones still lying on the bedrock.”

In addition to the pier, the gates to St Andrews Harbour were also damaged, and these have now been removed for repair in Wales. The spokesperson said, “These are crucial repairs, which will allow us to resume full management of both the outer harbour floor and the navigational channel. The gates are used by the Harbour Master to control the flow of water. With the gates repaired and reinstalled, we will once again be able to use the water in the inner harbour to scour the outer harbour, thus helping to keep it clear of sand, debris and seaweed, something we cannot do without the gates. Currently, the channel has to be cleared by mechanical means every fortnight, at significant additional expense to the Harbour.”

On the St Andrews Harbour Trust website, the Trust further makes clear the importance of the gates, stating, “At the moment, there is no protection in the event of a storm surge… We hope that the repaired gates will be reinstated by Easter.”

Regarding the financial cost of repairing the pier, the same spokesperson said, “We are accelerating our efforts to fundraise for the long-term repairs of the pier and cliffs, which are likely to cost over £3.5M. The pier remains closed while we continue this fundraising and explore additional funding streams for not just the long-term repairs, but also the futureproofing of the slipway, pier and cliff. Should you wish to assist, a GoFundMe page can be accessed through the Harbour website or on Facebook.”

So far, £8,190 has been raised of the £1.5 million target.

The spokesperson added, “While it may seem that progress has stalled, with little visible progress, funds are being raised to enable the civil engineering processes of design, costing, and implementation of the permanent repairs. As is stated on several signs around the harbour, we would again advise everyone to avoid the harbour’s structures in stormy weather.  The simple act of taking photos or going for a walk during high winds and rain may seem harmless but can be extremely dangerous.”

The pier is a key part of the culture of the University of St Andrews. In 1800, student John Honey rescued members of a vessel which had run aground off East Sands. Since his death at the age of 32, which was attributed to unresolved health issues following the incident, students have processed every year along the pier a tradition known as “The Gaudie”.

In addition to this, Pier Walks are held weekly, with the first of the year being the busiest and, as the University website states, “a great way to end the week before the Martinmas Semester begins”. 

Illustration by Lauren White

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