Set within the furthest recesses of the estuaries’ channels and within a lock, it is completely protected from all conditions. Chichester Harbour's channels are well marked making access straightforward night or day in most conditions but the final approaches to the marina can only be made on a sufficient rise of the tide.
Keyfacts for Birdham Pool Marina
Summary* Restrictions applyA completely protected location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 48.228' N, 000° 49.830' W
This is situated on the eastern side of the lockgate entrance.
What are the key points of the approach?
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Birdham Pool Marina is a small rural marina with 249 pontoon berths located about 4½ miles within the entrance to Chichester Harbour. Situated on the site of a former tide mill pond on the east side of the shallow Chichester Lake, its position behind a lock gate means that final approaches will most likely require a rise to provide adequate draft for access. The marina is located within 3 miles of the cathedral city of Chichester.
The Lock at Birdham Pool Marina is operational three and half hours either side of Portsmouth High Water from 6.00 - 22.00 during the summer season. The maximum width of a vessel the lock can receive is 5.12 metres (16.8 ft.) and a length overall maximum of 15.85 metres. 1.2 metres is available over the sill at 3.5 hours from high tide and the maximum draft that can be accommodated is up to 2.2 metres; rise and berth availability dependant.
The marina is oversubscribed and it is always advisable to contact Birdham Pool Marina P: +44 1243 512 310 in advance to see if a berth can be made available.
The approach channel commences at Birdham Starboard mark, Fl 4 G10, that has a tidal gauge indicating the height of the water on the lock sill. From there the weaving channel is marked by closely spaced starboard marks. Entering vessels should venture no further than 3 metres out from the posts. Pass outgoing vessels port to port, pulling in closer to the marks where possible, and do not overtake unless specifically requested to do so by the lock keeper.
Contact the Lock keeper well in advance of arriving again to confirm the berth. VHF Channel 80 - call sign [Birdham Pool Marina] M: +44 7831 466815. Berth as directed by the lock keeper.
Why visit here?Birdham Pool derives its name from the conjunction of bridd and hamm meaning ‘homestead or enclosure frequented by young birds'. This name has very slightly softened through the centuries and was first recorded as Bridham, in 683, and Brideham in the 1086 Doomsaday Book.
The present Birdham Mill has nothing to do with this ancient Norman mill. This mill dates from 1768 and had two tidally operated water wheels. The flood tide was trapped in the pond and on the ebb, after a good head of water had been impounded, the outgoing water could turn the mill wheels for up to three and a half hours. Tidal mills were expensive to build, but the power was constant and reliable even though they could operate only for up to eight hours in every tidal day. But it was hard work and lead to miller working odd hours to synchronise with the tidal cycle.
Between the locks of Birdham Pool and Chichester Marina, scarcely 100 metres from Birdham pool, is ‘Salterns Lock’ the lockgates of the disused Chichester Canal. In 1580 the Cicestrians, as the citizens of Chichester are known, petitioned the Crown to remedy the cities disadvantage of its distance from the sea. Dell Quay was its port at the time and mention was also made of the fact that there were neither storehouses nor a boarding house there. In response to the complaint, a 1585 act was passed that would allow the construction of a cut linking Chichester with the sea `to bring the port unto the city. But this ambitious project was not to be realised for another 250 years and would be a short lived success.
Work only began after a further 1818 act that would provide the grounds required for the ‘Portsmouth & Arundel Canal’. The canal was conceived in a time of hostilities with France and part of a larger scale plan to provide a secure inland canal route from London to Portsmouth. It was opened in 1823 allowing barges to travel safely and comparatively quickly from Portsmouth through Langstone and Chichester harbours to Birdham and then onto London. Larger vessels could spur off to Chichester, at Hunston, that unlike the rest of the canal was built large enough to carry boats of up to 100 tons. However before the entire route was completed the project was already doomed to failure.
The war with France had ended and larger and better ships meant that the coastal route was again the more convenient and cheaper option. Worse in 1846 the line from Brighton to Chichester was opened effectively obsoleting the greater part of the canal almost immediately. By 1847 the canal, apart from the Chichester section, had fallen into disuse. The trade in the section between Salterns Lock and the city of Chichester also dwindled and it was finally shut in 1906. The remains of the canal is now rather overgrown with stationary houseboats.
Today Birdham village is somewhat spread out with plenty of desirable harbour-side houses. Stunning harbour views make Birdham one of the more interesting places to walk around on the Manhood Peninsula - the flat expanse of land south of Chichester that pushes out into the sea at Selsey Bill. For a longer walk the Canal can be followed all the way to Chichester, and there is a pleasant circular walk up to Dell Quay passing through the wooded area of Salterns Copse.
The marina however is Birdham’s most notable feature. With the Old Mill building still standing next to the Lock and the traditional lock gates at its foot the 'Pool' still retains a handsome sense of antiquity. The marina ranks by many as not only the oldest but also the prettiest in the country. It is also a TransEurope Marina. Visitors who have a homeport belonging to the TransEurope Marinas network will have the benefit of a 50% discount off berthing fees for up to 5 days.
What facilities are available?Electricity and water are available on all pontoons. Diesel and petrol are available from pumps situated at the Lock. Waste bins are provided behind the office block near the lock. The toilets, showers and launderette facilities are open 24/7 for berth holders. Wi-fi is provided free of charge to berth holders.
Birdham Pool is a popular and busy boatyard. There is a slipway which can take boats of up to 20 tonnes and a crane capable of lifting boats of up to 14 tonnes. The boatyard has many skilled craftsmen and engineers onsite that cater for most areas of boat maintenance and repair.
Buses operate every twenty minutes between Chichester Bus Station (South Street) located about 3½ miles from the marina. Chichester city provides fast trains to London Victoria station. Private aircraft may land at Goodwood Aerodrome five miles away from the marina.
Any security concerns?Birdham Pool is positioned on its own private road and has CCTV surveillance cameras throughout the marina. The main parts of the marina are restricted by security gate access. The office is usually manned 7 days a week during office hours.
With thanks to:Phil Walker Deputy Harbour Master Chichester Harbour. Photography by Michael Harpur and Rob Farrow.
The following video presents aerial views of the marina area.
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