England's North Sea Ports

Cornwall Council, 2016

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Cornwall Council (2016) England's North Sea Ports [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1040801

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England's North Sea Ports

The England's North Sea Ports project was undertaken by Cornwall Archaeological Unit for Historic England. The project commenced in February 2014 and was completed in July 2016.

The principal aim of the project was to improve the strategic-level understanding of the values, significance, vulnerability and adaptability to change of port-related heritage for England's North Sea coast.

The project products include 19 individual Port Heritage Summaries (PHS) and a Strategic Overview report (this document). These were written to inform all parties interested in a port's future development and the sustainable management of its port-related heritage.

The evidence base was formed by the results of the PHS undertaken for 19 selected ports: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Tweedmouth and Spittal; Blyth; Tyneside; Seaham; Sunderland; Hartlepool; Teesside; Whitby; Scarborough; Hull; Immingham; Grimsby; King's Lynn; Wells-next-the-Sea; Great Yarmouth; Lowestoft; Felixstowe; Ipswich; Harwich.

The PHS broadly correspond with a Level 2 or Rapid Historic Area Assessment. Each port was rapidly visited and assessed for areas of port-related historic character and heritage. The work looked not only at the modern commercial extent of port activity but also areas of former port use and port-related activity.

Following the completion of the PHS an overview report was completed using the evidence from the 19 ports. The overview comments on generalised themes including the broad historic phases of port development, a discussion of port function, and the risks and opportunities that port-related heritage assets face. Frequently recurring heritage assets were discussed and potential rare assets and gaps in baseline information identified.

This report shows that disuse is the greatest risk to heritage assets. Potential opportunities highlighted include improving the baseline information for certain monument types and the understanding of their significance, most notably the batts and shiels of the Tweed, the coal staithes of the North East and the historic cranes found on Tyneside and at Hull and Ipswich.

It also suggests that a handful of the 19 ports would benefit from Extensive Urban Survey work to help better link the heritage of the port with the surrounding town, to further consider how the port-related heritage can be celebrated and conserved, and better identify potential opportunities for reuse and heritage-led regeneration.

Examples of successful heritage-led regeneration are given throughout the report which concludes that port-related heritage is best conserved and celebrated at ports where there are active community heritage groups and buildings preservation trusts.