Shipwreck exposed by erosion on Norfolk beach

Shipwreck on Hemsby beach

The timbers of a trawler similar to the Lydia Eva have been exposed for the first time in decades on Hemsby beach. - Credit: James Bensly

The remains of a shipwreck have been exposed along with a raft of detritus along a Norfolk beach.

The east coast is recovering after Storm Darcy swept across the region stripping beaches of their sand.

At Winterton the beach is noticeably lower, the once sandy stretch reduced to a sea of stones.

Shipwreck Hemsby

The remains of The Unity, a Lowestoft fishing boat, have been exposed after the beach at Hemsby was stripped of sand in the February storms. - Credit: James Bensly

Further south at Hemsby the shoreline has been similarly ravaged, an estimated 10ft snatched away virtually overnight in places.

Below the vulnerable Marrams the amount of material lost has been so great that a shipwreck not seen for decades has been exposed.

As well as being a marker for the severity of this winter's brutal weather the exposed timbers poking through the sand have been sparking curiosity.

shipwreck at Hemsby

The sands are already beginning to cover a wreck exposed on the beach at Hemsby for the first time in decades. - Credit: James Bensly

James Bensly, borough councillor and beach cafe owner, said the wreck was fascinating to see.

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He said he understood it to be the wreck of the fishing trawler The Unity which was sunk in 1899 after five crew were rescued by Winterton lifeboat.

The service history of the Edward Birkbeck which was saving lives from 1896 to 1924 reveal it went to the aid of the Dandy Unity of Lowestoft on November 8 1899 and that  five lives had indeed been saved.

Mr Bensly, 42, who has lived in the village all his life, said he had never before seen the remains uncovered - the shifting sands already beginning to bury them once more.

Hemsby beach

The lifeboat at Hemsby is unable to launch because the beach has dropped too far in the recent storms. The pill box is a useful gauge for beach levels, which are usually considered healthy when they sit at a round a metre on top of the Second World War structure. - Credit: James Bensly

Meanwhile, the beach looked like "a war zone" with scaffolding, brickwork, pipes, paving stones, sand bags, and electricity cables strewn all over it - a reminder of previous erosion catastrophes when houses on land long-gone collapsed into the sea.

In the aftermath of the Beast from the East in 2018 a dozen homes were demolished before they were taken, but in 2013 during the disastrous storm surge some homes slid off the dunes without warning and others were damaged.

The debris is thought to be left from that period, a stark reminder of how much land had been lost in less than a decade.

Hemsby beach

Debris on the beach at Hemsby which had lain buried under the sands. Paving stones, bricks, footings and pipes are all that remain of homes that stood on top of the dunes within the last decade. - Credit: James Bensly

At Hemsby the beach has dropped so much the lifeboat is unable to launch.

These four homes on the Marrams in Hemsby, damaged during the surge tide on December 5, will be demo

Four homes in the Marrams that were destroyed by the storm surge of December 2013. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mr Bensly said a clean-up operation involving the lifeboat crew would likely get under way in the next few days, some of the debris being of possible use to homeowner Lance Martin in his battle to save his clifftop home from the sea.

Winterton beach

The beach at Winterton is a sea of stones after it was whipped by winds last week. - Credit: Liz Coates

Mr Bensly added: "We are a resilient bunch. Our only fear is getting another storm while the beach is in this condition."