Watchet and its harbour have an ancient history characterised by cycles of destruction and revival after great storms. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the town was considered as port for the transport of iron ore, business was expanding. The coming of the Mineral Railway and the West Somerset Railway improved the infrastructure and economy of Watchet .
The harbour was owned by the Earls of Egremont who had the Town Slip and the Esplanade built in 1843. However the pier was not fit for purpose and although the West Somerset Mineral Railway Act of 1855 authorised the rebuilding of the harbour it took litigation, a public enquiry and a further royal act before building work could begin in 1860.
The improvement contract for Watchet harbour included the rebuilding of the west quay with a timber breakwater extension and the construction the new east quay (6.7 m wide on top), which terminated 30 metres from the end of the western breakwater.