The stakes of Stakes Island :: Shared Description

Stakes Island is an unofficial local name for the sandbanks featuring a remarkable double row of wooden stakes. These stakes which stretch for well over a mile were embedded in the sand in about 1870 by a group of farmers who, having seen the Dutch engineers perform similar feats of engineering, decided that they could construct a dam themselves. The purpose of this dam was to silt up the Thorney Channel which runs almost due north out of Chichester Harbour. Once silted up the farmers planned to reclaim the land for agriculture. About 150 men spent six months creating the dam, with the stakes being the framework to hold thousands of tons of Petersfield rock chalk to form an embankment. Their plan however was a little too ambitious and apparently the dam held for just seven weeks after its construction; a gale caused a breach between Cobnor Point and Pilsey and so the Thorney Channel remains to this day. However most of the wooden stakes also remain in testament to their durability, and some of the chalk can also be found.
There are now several breaks in the row - particularly towards the western end, where the original breach occurred. This is where the deepest part of the Thorney Channel is encountered, but the stakes reappear in little clumps further to the west and can be seen "coming ashore" on Thorney Island near the Pilsey Island wildlife sanctuary.
From aerial photos, I have ascertained the following:
The row of stakes form a Y shape with the main row running from SU7789202066 to SU7722900514 (c. 2.34km / 1.45 miles) with a spur making a second crossing of the Thorney Channel from SU7764600954 to SU7710901026 (c. 550m / 600yds)
The stakes seem to be spaced 6' (just under 2m) apart. This means that as there is a double row the number of stakes is approximately 2 x (7656' + 1800') / 6' = 3152 - so in excess of 3,000 stakes were driven into ground.
by Rob Farrow
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9 images use this description:

SU7801 : Pleasure craft passing "Roman Transit" by Rob Farrow
SU7801 : Remnant stakes of failed dam, from Cobnor Point by Rob Farrow
SU7802 : Cobnor Rithe and old stakes by Rob Farrow
SU7700 : Mouth of Thorney Channel by Rob Farrow
SU7801 : Old piles of ill-fated dam by Rob Farrow
SU7802 : Failed dam remnants at Cobnor Point by Rob Farrow
SU7801 : "Roman Transit" beacon by Rob Farrow
SU7802 : Easternmost stakes of failed dam by Rob Farrow
SU7700 : Pile remnants on tiny sand islet by Rob Farrow


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Created: Mon, 8 Jul 2013, Updated: Fri, 12 Jul 2013

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2013 Rob Farrow, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

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