May 21 2013 Latest news:
Friday, March 22, 2013
Winds howled across the Norfolk beach in the dead of night and as the sun rose villagers found mystery brickwork jutting out of the east coast sand.
After some scratching of heads, the seaside structure – previously hidden beneath Caister beach – has now been identified as the former Manor House Hotel.
The Georgian hotel had crumbled to the creeping sea during the second world war, but more than 70 years later coastal erosion – a perennial problem along vast stretches of the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline – has laid bare its remains.
Its reappearance came after a night of harsh north-easterly wind last week, which saw military pill boxes, the metalwork of Dutch groynes and even bedrock exposed along the beach at Caister, near Great Yarmouth.
Tony Overill, chairman of Caister Parish Council, said: “It’s a phenomenon on this coast that whenever we get a strong north-easter it will scour the beach away.
“It’s a continuing battle between the sea and the land.”
Red bricks and internal piping of the old Manor House Hotel can now be seen after vast amounts of sand were swept away at the beach by Manor Road.
The Manor House is believed to have been built in 1793, and converted to a hotel in 1894 – extended to have 36 bedrooms in the 1920s.
But it was abandoned around 1941, falling victim to coastal erosion.
Mr Overill, 74, recalls pushing his bike along near to the derelict hotel as a child, and believes it completely disappeared from view in 1948.
“It just seemed to crumble away,” he said. “What you’re getting now is things reappearing from Hopton to Happisburgh.”
Last month oil believed to be from the stricken Eleni V tanker disaster in 1978 resurfaced at Hopton beach, and concrete pill boxes built as military defences in the second world war are now completely exposed at Hemsby and Hopton.
Locals recall being able to drive a jeep over the top of them just over a year ago, but now they stand some 10ft above the beach.
“It’s bad, I know it’s bad, but it’s something we’ve lived with for centuries on this coast,” said Mr Overill.
“It will all come back in two or three weeks.
“For the last three weeks at least the winds have been continuing to come in, and that’s when you get scouring.”
He said a vast amount of sand had disappeared, and with the tourist season fast approaching, a little help may be required to put things right.
“They will have to get the bulldozer out to take it away from the lifeboat shed,” he said.
Caister lifeboat crew must contend with a drop in the beach level after the latest erosion damage, and lifeboat men say it could take them several minutes longer to launch.
Retired Hemsby fisherman Kenny Cheney estimates 25m of the beach at Hemsby and Caister has been eroded away since last October, with 15m of this damage done in the last fortnight.
He added this includes 25m of the hills at Hemsby in “one of the worst erosion years since 1995”.
“There’s been nothing like this,” said Mr Cheney.
“The last big scouring lot were the tides in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“But we had more hills there then, so how can you compare it?”
Coastal erosion has long been a threat to East Anglia’s shores.
Static caravans have had to be moved back from the clifftops at Happisburgh, and a cliff slippage forced the closure of a Corton seafront path in January – with the route blocked off completely for safety reasons.
And with further inclement weather forecast in the coming days, the coastline is facing even further damage.
COMMENT – Page 30
Police in Norwich have launched an investigation after a woman claimed in a tweet she had knocked a cyclist off their bike.
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