SWH was awarded the contract to install approximately 1500m3 of four tonne boulders as rock armour on Livermead beach in Torquay to provide protection to a 35m length of the base of the nineteenth century masonry sea wall. This wall supports the busy A3022 which runs between Torquay and Paignton. On Easter Monday of 2013, before SWH was able to commence the planned works, a section of the base of the wall was washed out by rough seas caused by Easterly gales. A seven metre long breach formed and the fill behind the wall was eroded by the wave action. This led to a 20 metre length of the footpath collapsing. There was grave concern that the initial breach could lead to a catastrophic failure, collapse of the wall and highway and damage to a large diameter high pressure gas main.
We were contacted by our client and were able to mobilise resources at extremely short notice. For the next week, we worked day and night to initially stabilise the wall and then effect a repair. This involved the procurement of heavy duty sheet piles and their installation using a Movax (vibratory) piling rig. The site team were subjected to extreme weather conditions and worked between the high tides. Steel plates were welded together to form steel shutters and over 100m3 of concrete was placed.
Once these repairs had been completed, we worked closely with our client to reassess the permanent works. The storms had reduced the sand level on the beach and revealed the presence of extensive voids within the protective revetments over a much greater length of the sea wall than had been anticipated. Consequently, we were instructed to core drill into the revetments and to pump concrete to fill these voids. Where the revetments had been completely destroyed, we constructed new ones by bedding one tonne boulders into sprayed concrete. The old revetments were then over-sprayed with concrete to provide them with further protection and to provide a consistent appearance.
In total, over 300m3 of sprayed concrete was placed. These works could only be carried out during spring tides when there was sufficient time to access the beach, apply the concrete and for it to reach an initial set before being submerged.