Photo gallery: Concrete block bid to save Hemsby from the North Sea

PUBLISHED: 09:24 05 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:24 05 April 2013

Update on the beach and cliff erosion at Hemsby.
April 2013

Picture: James Bass

Update on the beach and cliff erosion at Hemsby. April 2013 Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

The North Sea is close to breaking through Hemsby dunes amid the “worst erosion in 25 years”, fearful residents claim.

Update on the beach and cliff erosion at Hemsby.
The Marrams.
April 2013

Picture: James BassUpdate on the beach and cliff erosion at Hemsby. The Marrams. April 2013 Picture: James Bass

And in a last effort to save them a sea defence scheme has been agreed with landowners Geoffrey Watling Limited.

Concrete blocks will line the base of the dunes to soften the impact of the tides, spanning a 1.5km stretch next to the Marrams.

Volunteers will complete the lion’s share of the work – relying on spare cement and donations towards £50 blocks – and the project could span several seasons.

It is set to begin in four week’s time, after the tides have calmed and the beach given a chance to replenish.

Update on the beach and cliff erosion at Hemsby.
April 2013

Picture: James BassUpdate on the beach and cliff erosion at Hemsby. April 2013 Picture: James Bass

The background to the work is laid out by stark predictions in government documents – which concede all of Hemsby Marrams and up to five homes could be lost by 2025.

But people who live in The Marrams are already looking to move house, fearing the tide will be at their doors within five years.

The growing concern comes after severe damage in recent weeks, as Hemsby lifeboat crew abandoned its station last week and a 10ft drop in beach level emerged.

Tony Lewis, 72, has lived in The Marrams – a private road immediately behind the dunes – for 10 years.

He said: “For the last fortnight the wind has been so strong – that’s what’s doing the damage. You can hear the sea all through the night, bashing against the dunes.

“Have we got to wait until there’s water coming in the back door?”

He is looking to move and said a walkway from the front of his home over the dunes has already crumbled away.

The present Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) from Winterton to Scratby indicates a policy of managed realignment, and concedes all of Hemsby Marrams and up to five homes could be lost by 2025.

The document was prepared by authorities that have a responsibility for managing flooding and erosion at the coast, including the Environment Agency, Defra and local councils.

“If the dunes go that will be the end of Hemsby,” added Mr Lewis. “When it’s a high tide it’s right at the bottom of the dunes, and if they get washed away it’s going to come in.”

His neighbour, Bill Tilley, 63, added: “I’ve known it here for 25 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it. We desperately need some help.”

There are around 50 chalets in The Marrams and some sit just 25ft from the sea, Mr Tilley said.

Margaret Alman, 70, lives in The Glebe, which runs next to the Hemsby valley – on the far side from the sea.

The lifeboat shop volunteer said: “The erosion is scaring us a lot. The dunes that side have electric poles right near to the edge and you can’t get down to the beach unless you go down the valley.”

Fierce tides have cut behind rock defences fronting Hemsby lifeboat station, and fences have been torn down by gales.

Business owners are also concerned that the erosion will harm Hemsby’s £80m tourist economy.

Jack Bensly, chairman of the Borough Community Coastal Group, said there are 18,000 tourist beds in Hemsby and money spent on sea defences would be money well spent.

He added more than 65 chalets have already been lost, with around 150 yards of dune lost in the last 20 years.

The latest fears come after a month of significant erosion on the east Norfolk coast.

Severe north-easterly winds at Caister exposed the foundations of the former Manor House hotel last month.

The Georgian building had crumbled into the sea as a result of erosion during the second world war.

Caister lifeboat has faced delays in launching after its ramp was damaged, and Hemsby’s sea-going lifeboat has been taken out of action completely as it is unable to launch.

Hopton has also been hit, with sections of cliff collapsing last week, forcing three caravans at Hopton Holiday Village to be re-sited.


  • Another raw point, dredging for aggregates to sell for Holland 's beach replenishment, we all played with shovels and buckets at the seaside and observed what happens when you take some sand up, is creating an extra effect exacerbating the scouring. Just saying. Its a Crown estate project that runs 365 daysyear and has been going on for decades.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, April 5, 2013

  • This is a serious problem and NCC should aid our coastal communities with rocks, pouring concrete, creating massive amounts of CO2, is not necessarily the best option, its expensive. But we must save guard Norfolk's best assets and the tourist industry is sustainable. Maybe the King of Norway, benefiting from our subsidies for wind power would like to send us a few shiploads of the best, now there would be an idea

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, April 5, 2013

  • Daisy – every time there is mention of the Hemsby Marrams you come out with the same scathing comments calling the people foolish & how they should all drown or be left homeless blah blah… We get the point – you have no sympathy for the people who live there; no need to go on about it dear. Main priority should be to defend Hemsby Gap for now (even if it’s short-term) so the tourists can come & the lifeboat can launch…

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    Monday, April 8, 2013

  • These are move ins whinging Ingo because they dont understand the North Sea coastline is comprised of areas which erode and those that build- the latter including Wells beach , the dunes which blocked off the Hundred Stream and the bank which Yarmouth is built on. The areas of erosion shift naturally. I have observed this beach for over 35 years At times I have seen the adjoining Scratby beach down to clay , all the sand gone, and then it builds up again In the mid seventies numbers of chalets built as holiday homes in I believe the 20s or 30s were washed away by a storm . It would be very silly to wring our hands over a bit of foolish building in dunes which may themselves have been accumulated only a few years before. Easterly winds over a prolonged period will strip this beach and it will build again when the wind shifts. The soft sand cliffs at Scratby-Hemsby are subject to erosion by percolating rain rather than just the sea.. Aggregate removal is a red herring touted by those who have foolishly moved into a home too close to the edge-many of which were only ever intended as holiday homes and should never have been given permission for permanent occupation. If solid defences are built there , Hemsby could end up with no beach exposed at any tide. The solutions are rock reefs as at Sea Palling ( probably too expensive for a place with no incursion risk) or managed retreat with soft defences to allow the beach to build further back from the high water mark. There is room on the old Pontins site for relocation of businesses. The fact that Lacons built a pub near the beach in the 30s or fishermen built cottages in the 19th C in no indication that there was any stability in the area , they may have been equally foolish-parts of Cromer, Caister Bardolph and Eccles on the same coast were lost to erosion hundreds of years before anyone was taking aggregate and similarly the bank on which Yarmouth stands was only just building up when the Danes arrived. Those who failt o acquaint themselves with a bit of basic physical geography or do some research before buying a home dont deserve a jot of sympathy and this part of the coast does not need money spending on extensive protection.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, April 5, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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