A brief history of Harpy Pier

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Built in 1901 by Woolwich Royal Dockyard , she was constructed of iron. The structure was designed to accommodate a Surveyor, Examining Officers, eleven Preventive Officers, thirty five Boatmen – soon to be called Preventive Men, and 32 Watchers. It had two decks and was supplied with telephones, mains water and a gas and electricity supply. Gas stoves provided heat for the officers, and the Boatmen and Watchers were given coal for stoves to warm food and boil water.   The cost of the build was £5211.12s.3d 

In 1905 she was given the name ‘Harpy’ . By October 1913 she was seen to be in need of some repairs and a refit of the upper deck accomodation, which was considered be too small, so plans were drawn up to increase the size of the offices.

On 14 May 1969 she was taken for a four month refit at Gravesend which included a new roof, new toilet accommodation and refurbishment of the offices. While she was away, the mooring dolphins were renewed and the ‘brow’ (the bridge from the Custom House quay) was repaired. After nearly a year’s absence, which left a conspicuous gap in the Pool of London, Harpy returned. This combined office block, boarding station and VIP embarkation point was repainted powder blue, which made a pleasant change from the old ‘Ministry of Works Green’.

On 3rd February 1975 she ceased as a customs pier. She was sold to the current owners in 1981 and in 2005 had a major refit.  Featured in the ‘Home’ section of the Sunday Times in September 2009, it had been extensively refurbished, inside and out, and was available to rent at £3500 per week – 67% of its original cost in 1907!

Photo: Taken in 1956

Photo: 1969 leaving for Gravesend under tow by Palmers NIPAROUND

After a major refit by the owners, this is the current interior!

Unique floating house
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