Vital maritime access restored
Exmouth’s new £1.5 million Mamhead Slipway has been officially opened, restoring the vital maritime access to the town’s wonderful waterside after an absence of more than four years.
Larger and more practical than the previous structure, the new slipway on the River Exe reinstates the town’s maritime leisure tradition and will bring more business to the town. The majority of the work was funded by East Devon District Council with Devon County Council putting £275,000 in to the project.
The old slipway was closed in 2012 due to public safety and the council decided to demolish it and build an entirely new facility. It’s almost five metres which is much wider than the previous slipway, giving the opportunity for two craft to be launched in parallel. There is also additional vehicle manoeuvring space for vehicles and trailers reversing down the slipway.
Building the new structure was a major technical undertaking and it needed to be timed carefully so as not to impact on the thousands of migrating birds who spend the winter months on the River Exe. The council needed a special licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to permit work in the estuary during the spring and summer. Building work was restricted in the winter months as the estuary is designated as a Special Protection Area for the over-wintering birds.
Contractors Raymond Brown Ltd began work on the slipway in Spring 2016 and had to work against the clock to build the new one.
It became operational in the New Year and has proved extremely popular with water users.
The slipway was officially opened when East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire cut through a red ribbon at the mouth of the new slipway.
Sir Hugo told guests at the opening ceremony:
This is a wonderful new space for water users and is a huge asset to the town.
The slipway marks a milestone in the council’s ongoing plans to improve the town’s seafront. This is a positive investment from the district council for the town and it will pay dividends, both economically and environmentally.
Cllr John Humphreys, speaking on behalf of Exmouth Town Council, added:
This new facility sets Exmouth up for many decades to come. It will enhance life for local people – individuals, the water skiing and power boat clubs – as well as our much valued visitors. Yes, it is a leisure benefit but also has economic benefits as it significantly improves what Exmouth has to offer our all-important visitors.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said:
I'm pleased we’ve been able to work with East Devon District on this important investment. It’s a great asset to help maritime businesses in Exmouth, and the scheme has created more manoeuvring space off the highway for vehicles accessing the slipway.
The slipway has several new features in comparison to the old structure. The slipway gradient is the same as before, but it is longer so the end is lower than the previous one, which was exposed at low tide.
The opportunity has also been taken to provide an area off the road for boats to prepare, and the new layout enables boats and trailers to drive forward into the site rather than having to reverse with their trailers at right angles on the highway.