In autumn 2016 the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) will be carrying out emergency works to protect a 60m section of river wall running from the the Royal Steps to the corner of Bellot Gardens. These works are needed to address the dramatic erosion of the foreshore which has occurred during the last 15 years. This erosion has resulted the lowering of the foreshore by over a metre, exposing the chalk footings of the river wall and introducing a risk of scour (washing out of material in, and behind, the stone wall) bringing a potential risk of collapse.

The ORNC has been working with consultant structural engineers SFK Consulting and Arup to devise a solution which will minimise damage to the sensitive archaeology of the foreshore. For this reason, sheet piling (the driving of new foundations beneath the wall) has been discounted and, instead, the level of foreshore will be raised by the laying of 140 stone-filled nylon bags. Sand will then be placed over the bags to reinstate the foreshore. This method has recently been employed at the Tower of London. These proposed works at Greenwich have now been formerly approved by Historic England. 

These works are reversible and will provide a protective cover to the archaeology close to the wall (to a width of 6m). Beyond that the foreshore will continue to be accessible for authorised persons, tide permitting. Ultimately, these works will ensure the long term preservation of the historic river wall and the protection of archaeological remains.

The ORNC is currently seeking the necessary licences and permissions for the work and these should be in place by the end of October. The work will take about two weeks to complete and will be carried out by specialist contractor South Bay Civil Engineering, under the supervision of SFK consulting. The total cost of the project is £130,000.