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.

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Notes to editors:

For more information or images contact:

Tom Ryley 

+44 (0)208269 4762

About the Old Royal Naval College:

The Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) in Greenwich was established as the Royal Hospital for Seamen by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1694.

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, it is one of the most important ensembles in European baroque architecture. From 1705, the Royal Hospital provided modest, wood-lined cabins as accommodation for retired sailors, housing as many as 2,700 residents at its peak in 1814. The last naval pensioners left in 1869, when the site became home to the Royal Naval College, an officers’ training academy, until 1997. When the Navy left, an independent charity was established to conserve the site for present and future generations, and create enjoyment, learning and unique cultural experiences for everyone.

Today this historic landmark is open to the public and is the home of three unique and free to visit attractions; the Painted Hall, the Chapel, and the Discover Greenwich visitor centre.

The Painted Hall is the greatest piece of decorative painting in England and has been described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’. The walls and ceilings were painted by Sir James Thornhill between 1708 and 1727.

The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-classical masterpiece by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and William Newton. Featuring a Samuel Green organ and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West, it is one of the finest eighteenth century interiors in existence.

The ORNC is free to all visitors and is open daily from 10.00-17.00.