Walkers enjoy coastal views as Southwold footpath reopened after three years

PUBLISHED: 12:16 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:16 27 January 2014

Official re-opening of Ladies Walk along Southwold seafront.

Official re-opening of Ladies Walk along Southwold seafront.

©Archant 2014

An historic seafront walkway in Southwold has reopened, more than three years after it was closed following a partial cliff collapse.

A small crowd gathered to watch Southwold mayor Simon Tobin cut the ribbon on the Ladies Walk footpath.

The ceremony marked the end of a £250,000, 16-week project to remove the damaged footpath and replace it with a concrete walkway and retaining wall,

The scheme - funded by Waveney District Council and managed by Kier Construction, NPS Property Services and Canham Consulting - got underway in September.

Mr Tobin praised the contractors for completing the project on time and within budget.

He said: “On behalf of the town council and the community, we are absolutely delighted that Waveney District Council has undertaken to reinstate the historic Ladies Walk footpath.

“It has been enjoyed for many years and has been out of commission for three.

“Many many people are now delighted that it has now been reopened.”

The path above North Parade at Kilcock Cliff was deemed unsafe by structural engineers in 2010 after part of the cliff crumbled and collapsed because of heavy rainfall, burrowing rabbits and the effect of soil creep.

The repair work involved removing the damaged footpath and replacing it with a pre-cast concrete structure that followed the line of the current path. A large crane was used to lift the four-tonne concrete sections into place.

The surfacing of the path and the design of the hand-rails was completed in consultation with Waveney District Council’s conservation officer.

The new footway has been designed to mimic the previous path while stabilising the cliff face by transferring the loads through the structure more effectively than before.

Brian Wilkins, principal infrastructure engineer for Canham Consulting, said it would “take more than rabbits” to move the new concrete path.

He added: “The old path was put in in 1907 and didn’t have much in the way of foundations. While we can blame rabbits, mainly it was gravity. It did last more than 90 years though so it did quite well.”

Phil Munnings, of Kier Construction, added: “The project has been a great success. Everyone is really pleased with the quality and how we’ve executed project.”

The scheme has been partly paid for by income from letting new beach hut sites.

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