LUMSDEN & Carroll, the civil engineering arm of Esh Group, has won the prestigious project of the year award for its work on the Seaham Harbour North Dock.
The prize at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association came for the £3m scheme carried out on behalf of Durham County Council.
It involved designing, building and installing a fully automated, anti-surge hydraulic dock gate designed to automatically open and close with the tides.
The company also put in a wave screen to maintain water levels in the inner harbour in order to protect vessels at all times, and pontoons capable of accommodating up to 78 leisure boats.
Stephen Wilkie, managing director of Lumsden & Carroll, said: “We are absolutely delighted to win Project of the Year 2012 and, I have to say, the team has earned it.
“It’s brilliant recognition for the way in which they have worked on this unique project for the last two-and- a-half years.
“It takes real innovation and ‘stickability’ to tackle some of the issues we’ve had at Seaham – for example, you simply can’t stop the ebb and flow of the tide.
“Seaham North Dock is a very special place – almost unique in the country as so much heritage is preserved here; we are very proud to have been able to be part of its history and have no doubt it will become an attractive draw for both locals and visitors for many years to come.”
In order to build the new tide-controlled dock gates, Lumsden & Carroll designed and installed a steel-piled cofferdam at the entrance of the existing dock so it could carry out work without disruption from the tides. This itself was a major, and sensitive, engineering project, carried out so as not to disturb the indigenous nesting and over-wintering colonies of birds.
Seaham’s historic North Dock has survived relatively unaltered since it was built in 1828. This lack of development has resulted in exceptional preservation of this late Georgian, early Victorian port.
Such a relatively intact harbour is now rare in England.
The dock is not only a Site of Special Scientific Interest but the North Pier is a Special Protection Area, being of international importance for its colonies of sea birds that over-winter and breed there.
Mr Wilkie added: “The Lumsden & Carroll team working at Seaham North Dock became so engrossed and passionate they set out to design, build and erect a series of special perches and nesting sites for the birds which migrate back to breed and over-winter here year on year.
“I understand most of these new ‘des-res’ were occupied so they must have done a good job!”