When we started digging underneath the i360 site for the sewer diversions last month, we had a pretty good idea of what we’d find. One metre below ground, a hefty bunch of power cables (eight in total) serving much of Brighton and Hove; and, deeper down at five metres below ground, the old Victorian sewer.

However, the plot thickened when it came to light that the kind folk who laid the cables, decades ago, didn’t happen to make a record of exactly where they were. There was a general guide, but no precise map. The centuries-old sewer system was even less well-documented, with only a rough estimate as to its whereabouts.

Rising to the challenge, Mackley (our contractors), went about taking precise underground measurements, carefully mapping the exact underground journey of both the cables and the sewer. Et voila! After weeks of work, we now have a much clearer picture of the world beneath the i360 site, and have begun laying the pipe work for both services.

This new subterranean knowledge isn’t just useful to the i360 – it’s also a huge opportunity for the city. We have been asked to add extra capacity to the unearthed electricity cables, which will enable Brighton to meet its expanding energy needs over the next 50 years. We’re happy to help, and will be supporting Power On (the contractors carrying out the extra work) in any ways we can.

Unfortunately, this means that over the next two to three months our site will temporarily cover a larger area than usual, with some of the works taking place in front of the West Pier Arches. However, this doesn’t mean they’re closed – on the contrary, the arches shops are still very much open for business.

As soon as we’re done the Heras fencing in front of the shops will be taken down and our site will shrink in size.

As for our team on site, it turned out there was one more surprise in store: during the course of the works they also uncovered the remains of an old sea wall buried under the beach. This runs down the exact point where we were planning on installing our hoardings boards! Mackley will remove the sea wall as part of the sewer diversion works, and then our hoardings will finally be complete.

Whatever next? Treasure? Catacombs? We’ll keep you posted.


The guys at Mackley using a suction excavator to excavate around the cables. (A suction excavator uses a jet of high powered air to break the ground up and then a giant hoover to suck up the detritus – a bit more exciting than spades and shovels, eh?)