Proposed breakwater, Cherbourg, France, 1787.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand-coloured engraving titled 'Carte de la Rade de Cherbourg, levee en l'annee 1787'. It shows a map of Cherbourg Roads off the coast of Normandy with the location of a proposed fortified breakwater to offer protection to ships in Cherbourg harbour. Cherbourg is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. The building of the port's large outer breakwater began in 1783, under the direction of Alexandre de Cesart, when Louis XVI ordered the development of Cherbourg as a fortified naval base. Interruptions caused by storm damage, the French Revolution, and the eventual defeat of France in the Napoleonic Wars meant that the breakwater was not finally completed until the mid 19th century.