HC Deb 28 March 1862 vol 166 cc234-6

said, he rose to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, what were the returns at the Royal Dock yard, Portsmouth, of the height of water on the Bar of the Harbour Channel each, tide on the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th of this month, March 1862; also the draft of water of Her Majesty's ship Warrior, and how many days in each mouth she can enter or leave that harbour. He asked the question because doubts had been thrown on the possibility of a ship of the heaviest draught of water getting in or out of Portsmouth Harbour on more than four or five days in the month. Two years ago, the water then being only 13 ft. 6 in. deep on the bar, the Government put a dredging vessel to work on the spot, and the result was that the water on the shoal of the bar was increased to the depth of 16 feet at low water in spring tides. Consequently, ships of the heaviest draught could gain access to the harbour on most days of the year; but the Government, having gained this advantage, had suspended their, operations, in order to see whether any change in the depth of the water would take place. He could not but think this suspension unnecessary. In 1693 it appeared, according to the chart of Grenville Collins, that the water on the bar had a depth of 18 feet. In 1724 the depth was found to have decreased by 2 feet, in consequence of certain obstructions in the mouth of the harbour, which had altered the current; so that in thirty-one years there had been an annual decrease of water on the shoal of about three-quarters of an inch. From that time to when the dredging commenced (a period of 124 years) the bar had shoaled 30 inches, or at the rate of an inch in four years. Therefore he strongly recommended the Admiralty to proceed again with the dredging until the shoal was reduced to the depth in 1693, namely, 18 feet. There were other means of deepening the water besides those which had been adopted. In the time of Charles II. certain lagoons and backwaters on the Gosport side were granted to a family of the name of Warne-ford; and Sir J. Rennie reported in 1808, that the value of scour was so great that the right to these waters ought to be purchased. Without, however, detaining the House further, he might say that he had referred to the authorities of Portsmouth as to the actual depth of water on the bar at the last spring tides. According to the tide table there ought to have been 28 feet; but, in fact, on the 17th of March the morning tide rose to 29 ft. 7 in., and the evening tide to 29 ft. 6 in. On the 18th March the morning tide rose to 29 ft. 8 in., and the evening tide to 29 ft. 6 in.; and on the 19th, the morning tide rose to 29 ft. 11 in., and the evening tide to 29 ft. 6 in. He had also referred to a gentleman at Portsmouth of considerable reputation as an engineer, and he had informed him that there were only four days during the month of February in which the Warrior could not go in and out of the harbour; and up to the 24th of March there were in that month only three days in which she could not get in and out. There were not, therefore, more than sixty days in the year during which the Warrior could not obtain access to the harbour.


said, he wished his hon. Friend had deferred putting his questions until the next month, when he should be able to give him more definite information with respect to Portsmouth Harbour than he was at present able to afford. With regard to the first question he might observe, that his hon. Friend had correctly stated the depth of water in that harbour on the 17th, 18th, and 19th, of the current month. On the morning of the 20th, it was 29 ft. 3½ in the afternoon 28 ft. 9½in. With regard to the second question, the draught of water of Her Majesty's ship Warrior was 26½ft., and she was able to enter Portsmouth Harbour sixteen days during the month of February, and up to the 21st inst., fifteen days during the present month, having a clear foot of water under her bottom, which was certainly the least margin which could, under the most favourable circumstances, be considered prudent. The last soundings on Ports mouth bar had been taken in the month of April, 1861.

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