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South Shields seaside shrinking shock!

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Sea wall, South Shields

Coastal erosion will damage tourism

The primary purpose of my visit to Littlehaven Beach in South Shields was to photograph and record the levels of damage to the sea wall on Harbour Drive, and to assess the effects of the recent tides. Two or three months ago I had noticed considerable damage to the footpath running from the pier along Sandhaven Beach (the “big” beach) and a reduction in the size of the adjacent dunes, I reported the matter to a senior councillor in South Tyneside who assured me that the relevant department would take corrective action.

Recent tides over the past few days have reached highs of five metres, and although they have provided an abundance of photographic material for me, they are also responsible for some fairly heavy damage to the sea wall in the harbour where perhaps the effects should not be so prevalent. The high tides are destined to recede over the next couple of weeks as the moon goes through it’s regular cycle, so perhaps council officials can gain some respite and have a chance to thoroughly inspect the damage.

The shock news is that Littlehaven Beach (the “little” beach) is both shrinking away and/or being relocated to the wrong side of the road! The levels of sand on the beach are the lowest that I have seen for many years, this photograph above indicates how far one has to jump from the footpath to reach the beach now (click the thumbnail to enlarge).

Because our sands have been washed or blown away objects buried for many years have re-appeared, this steel barge (below, left) is visible at low tide and is in such poor condition that a child could easily injure themselves while playing on or around it.

barge on South Shields beach There are other dangers too, there is a very old ramp which was used in the past for launching boats (some say it was used for launching seaplanes at one point, but I’m not so sure) where the concrete covering has eroded away revealing crusted areas of rusty sharp steel reinforcing and framework, which again could cause injuries. However, the greatest concern that I have is the integrity of the sea wall. On a recent visit there I had noticed significant damage to it’s top and also the underside facing the sea, erosion is evident beneath the footpath over the wall and areas of tarmac on the footpath are showing signs of being holed, concrete supports for the safety fence are also showing signs of being exposed and eaten away by salt water.
sea wall, South ShieldsThis old outflow pipe is now fully exposed and again the corrosive action of the sea’s salt water is gradually presenting dangers to the visiting public, it is not so long ago that it was virtually submerged beneath the sands at low tide. The area around it’s egress from the sea wall is heavily damaged and ancient wooden supporting pylons are also exposed and rotting away.

The top of the sea wall is starting to crumble at a faster rate, heavy coping stones which “dressed” the front of the sea wall have been lifted by the action of the waves and deposited some thirty to forty feet down the old road towards the Littlehaven Hotel and the “Conversation Piece” artworks. Once covered with sand these 25 -30Kg blocks will present quite a danger underfoot. See this picture (below, left)

Sea wall, South Shields
As we attempt to redevelop the sea front area in South Shields we ought to set the highest priority now to effecting some emergency repairs to the sea wall in Harbour Drive, even if they are short term measures. In the longer term the whole of Harbour Drive and the sea wall itself may have to be realigned.

Another pressing concern has to be the replacement of sand on our beach, it is the primary defence against the North Sea, urgent multi agency consultations between South Tyneside Council, the Port of Tyne Authority, and the Environment Agency ought to instigated NOW, to develop a plan to import and deposit sand from other areas quickly, in an effort to protect the beach and harbour, and to protect our growing tourism industry. There is very little sand left to sit upon, the area near the pier is now so devoid of sand that it is now a virtual rock field, and low tides reveal that the only decent stretches of sand are in front of the Littlehaven Hotel. Perhaps the Port of Tyne can be persuaded to pay us back the thousands of tons of sand that they took from the Trow Rocks area many years ago!

At the end of the day, we need our visitors, and we need to give them amenities and facilities when they come here, everybody loves a day at the seaside when the weather is warm, and when we get it right South Shields is a good destination.

What we don’t want, is to give our visitors a shitty old sewerage outfall pipe to sit upon when they get to the beach!

So can we please get to work to rebuild our beach?

Thank you, rant over. 

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Written by curly

March 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

3 Responses

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  1. It’s happening in East Anglia too. This is a classic example of where different organisations pass on responsibility for this to other agencies.

    Ellee

    March 25, 2008 at 12:49 pm

  2. I went down to little haven a couple of weeks ago and seen the barge but now its gone, has the council removed it or has the sand covered it again? because i too couldnt believe what i was seeing but when i went back it wasnt their.

    therese

    May 6, 2008 at 7:51 pm

  3. It’s likely that the sands have covered it again.

    curly

    May 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm


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