WWII CONCRETE MULBERRY HARBOUR BREAKWATER
She is hard to miss…resting north of the entrance of Langstone Harbour her back broken and her concrete skin worn by the storms and the constant ebb & flow of the tides from The Solent. The concrete wreak visible from both Portsmouth and Hayling Island shores has for the last 70 years or so has been a familiar sight, with the rugged angles and lines breaking up the softer natural landscape.
The concrete wreak is a Phoenix Breakwater Type C, which were a set of reinforced concrete watertight structures built as part of the artificial Mulberry harbours that were assembled as part of the follow-up to the Normandy landings during World War II.
…for the last 70 years or so has been a familiar sight, with the rugged angles and lines breaking up the softer natural landscape
Phoenix construction, Weymouth 1944
Aerial view of Mulberry harbour “B” (October 27, 1944)
…would have helped form an outer breakwater and was constructed in Langstone Harbour on Hayling Island beach
After successfully holding beachheads following D-Day, two prefabricated harbours were taken in sections across the English Channel from Britain with the invading army and assembled off Omaha (Mulberry “A”) and Gold Beach (Mulberry “B”). Many of these sections were created along the south coast, built and launched from places such as Stoked Bay in Gosport (where at low tide you can sometimes still see the launch runners) and all the way along to places like Pagham. The wreak in Langstone Harbour was designed to have helped form an outer breakwater and was constructed in Langstone Harbour on Hayling Island beach.
Many of the Phoenixes were built from the autumn of 1943 through to the spring of 1944 and were sunk near their construction site until they were needed. One of the Hayling Island Phoenixes developed a fault and could not be used and remained in the harbour. Over time it broke it’s back and ever since has been a local landmark and a direct link to the local history and heritage of Portsmouth, Hayling Island and Langstone Harbour.
…built from the autumn of 1943 through to the spring of 1944 and were sunk near their construction site until they were needed
In 2012 we were out photographing the very first collection for Strong Island Clothing Co at some of our favourite locations around Portsmouth. Whilst out on a rib in Langstone Harbour we approached the Phoenix and managed to shot some photos around, on and even in the concrete wreak. It was something special to capture up close some elements of the ‘brutalist’ reinforced concrete, worn slowly away by the elements.