Wick breakwater
Significance: In the mid-19th century, Thomas Stevenson attempted
to build a breakwater for the harbour at Wick. Despite its robust
construction, the breakwater was never completed due to storm damage.
Its loss provided an early demonstration of the power of waves to move
large blocks of rock.
Wick breakwater
Significance: In the mid-19th century, Thomas
Stevenson attempted to build a breakwater for
the harbour at Wick. Despite its robust
construction, the breakwater was never
completed due to storm damage. Its loss
provided an early demonstration of the power
of waves to move large blocks of rock.

Wick breakwater

Significance: In the mid-19th century, Thomas Stevenson attempted to build a breakwater for the harbour at Wick. Despite its robust construction, the breakwater was never completed due to storm damage. Its loss provided an early demonstration of the power of waves to move large blocks of rock.

Several attempts were made to construct a breakwater in Wick Bay between 1863 and 1873. The end of the breakwater was capped by a 726 tonne block of concrete that was secured to the foundation by iron rods 9 cm in diameter. In a storm in 1872 Stevenson watched in amazement from a nearby cliff as both cap and foundation, weighing a total of 1225 tons, were removed as a unit and deposited in the water that the wall was supposed to protect. He rebuilt the structure and added a larger cap weighing 2358 tons, which was treated similarly by a storm a few years later.

The design of the Stevenson breakwater and the wave conditions under which it failed have received detailed analysis.

Allsop, N.W.H., Bruce, T., 2020. Failure analysis of historic vertical breakwaters, part 1: Wick. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Forensic Engineering 172, 43-53.

https://doi.org/10.1680/jfoen.20.00002

Key geomorphological sites