Achieving the Impossible: Building the Cherbourg Breakwater, version 2.0!

The ninth cone about to be sunk before the king in June 1786, by Ozanne

Just a reminder that the next stop on the world tour of my presentation about Cherbourg breakwater will be at WSC on Friday 8th March at 7.30pm. After that you'll have to travel to Cherbourg to catch it in the French version later this year. If you're already planning to join the Cherbourg rally in June, of course, this is a chance to 'get some knowledge in' before you go!

“The bizarre science-fiction world of Ancien Regime inventors and engineers is the setting for this richly illustrated account of the building of the Cherbourg breakwater.

Giant wooden cones competed with Montgolfier balloons for the public’s attention, as a war-hungry naval minister manipulated the king to realise the prestige project which would end war with England for ever, by creating France’s first deep-water Channel port.

From the rivalry and feuding between different engineering corps gradually emerged the science which shaped Europe’s first offshore breakwater, just as the shadows of the Revolution descended.

The grim truth of its cost in human life became even more apparent as tragic efforts were made under Napoleon to discover an effective method to resist the immense power of the sea and raise and maintain the breakwater above sea level.

What was supposed to take a few years took nearly a century to achieve, during which time Cherbourg can claim to have been the parent of breakwaters all over the world, including our very own Portland breakwater.

Visiting Cherbourg will never be the same after you’ve lived through this gripping tale!”

Steve Fraser

Submitted on Tuesday, 12th February