Development of the St Clair Esplanade can be traced as far back as the 1870s and in the 1880s many areas of nearby wetland were reclaimed, sand dunes were built up, and areas were levelled to create sports fields and recreation spaces around St Kilda.
St Clair’s first sea wall was built in 1884 out of dry rubble which was stacked on foundations in the sand on or near the high water line but it was soon undermined and by 1886 had collapsed. A subsequent attempt at a wall in 1888 was brought down by storms the following year.
It wasn’t until 1912-13 that another seawall was attempted, using anchored sheet pile. This proved successful and in 1935 the structure was extended past the surf club buildings.
This wall was so successful that – with the addition of remedial protection – it stayed in place until the current 400m long wall and promenade areas was built in 2003-2004.
It consists of pre-cast panels, approximately 6m high by 1.5m wide which slot together. They are pinned to a continuous longitudinal beam formed along the front of the previous wall, which in turn is tied back by 6m long anchors. A capping plate along the top also links the panels together.
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