History of Screw Piles

The earliest known use of screw pile foundations was in 1833, when Englishman Alexander Mitchell designed the supporting foundations of a series of lighthouses in tidal regions in the Thames area and around England.

These were manufactured in cast iron and apparently installed with a capstan and a number of horses drays! Also in England in 1863, the West Brighton pier was constructed utilising steel screw piles. A number of original piles where exhumed just recently, showing that even in the most extreme exposure conditions, they have lasted over 150 years, well beyond their design life.

This "emerging technology" was imported to Australia in 1872, and used to build the "Cape Jaffa Lighthouse" erected to alert ships of the Margaret Brock Reef off the South Australian coast. The oldest known functioning screw pile structure in Australia is the Victor Harbour jetty, known as the "Screw Pile Jetty" in South Australia which was built in 1881. Similarly in India, the screw pile was used in Piers and Railway Bridges and associated structures. Japan also in the late 1800's began utilising the screw pile for similar applications.

There is not much documented on what was constructed with screw piles from this period until the 1950s, when the A.B.Chance company in the United States utilised screw piles primarily for tension applications.

In Australia since the early 1990s ,screw piles have been used extensively across the country in compressive , tensile and lateral load applications in new domestic and commercial buildings and structures. They are used in civil applications, as well as underpinning existing buildings. The rapid expansion of this industry is due to the cost effectiveness of the product, combined with the rapid installation technique as well as the "cleanliness" of the system.

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