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The Dee, climate change and looking back to go forward

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Nick - Web Team Nick - Web Team | 09:45 UK time, Monday, 7 December 2009

A frozen Dee at Deeside in 1940, courtesy of Corus

Here's an aside as world leaders tackle climate change at Copenhagen and locals meet tonight to shape coastal plans amid concern about rising levels of the Dee.

It seems we've forever been trying to hold back the waters, according to a fascinating report, a Dee estuary and coastal survey, which was produced to highlight the historical importance of this waterway while recording archaeological features before they possibly disappear beneath the waves.

Survey authors Nigel Jones and Bob Silvester conducted their report for the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust in 1996, concluding:

Most of the Clwyd coastline is stable, largely due to extensive artificial coastal protection schemes, but some is still low lying or even below the high water mark. Rising sea levels could have a serious impact on this landscape and its archaeology, as has the development of both light industry and tourism.

Regarding existing coastal protection and farming, they noted:

Reclaimed former salt marsh and their subsequent protection from the sea has greatly affected the nature of much of the coastline too. This is particularly true around Abergele, Towyn and Prestatyn on the Irish Sea, and the whole of the upper River Dee Estuary. Many of the seabanks built for this purpose still survive, in some cases continuing their function of coastal defence.

Long before decent roads, the Dee was an obvious means of travel, and from what I've gleaned so far, the 18th Century River Dee Company was charged with maintaining the waterway.

...virtually every inlet along the Dee seems to have been utilised as a quay, although most are now silted and disused.

As well as the better known Foryd Harbour at Rhyl and Mostyn Docks, the authors also mention Talacre Harbour [can anyone shed more light on this?].

They point out that many of these 18th and 19th Century quays were built to serve ironworks, steelworks, collieries, and lead industries, from nearby Point of Ayr all the way over to the Wrexham-Shropshire border which was peppered with coal mines.

Further up the Dee, on reclaimed salt marshes, many smaller jetties and landing stages were built to serve specific industries at Connah's Quay, Queensferry, Aston Quay and Sandycroft Quay.

In more recent times, the jetty at Connah's Quay was particularly busy, serving Shotton Steelworks, and then, in the 1800s, there was the ferry which gave Queensferry its name.

And then there was the time the Dee froze over, but that's a different story...

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