Lifeguard observation tower destroyed on Norfolk coast

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind.

The RNLI hut which has ended up on its roof at Hemsby Lifeboat. - Credit: Archant

An RNLI observation tower has been destroyed by high tides and gale-force winds off the Norfolk coast.

At 10.30pm on Thursday, Hemsby Independent Lifeboat Service announced an RNLI lifeguard tower was at risk of falling into the sea. Members of Hemsby Lifeboat managed to stop the tower from being claimed by the torrents after they spotted the danger while monitoring the erosion at Hemsby Gap.

One hour before high tide, Hemsby Lifeboat called the RNLI to gain permission to attempt to save the tower. However, the winds compromised the platform's structural integrity and crew from Hemsby Lifeboat were forced to pull the damaged structure away from waves to preserve part of the tower.

Hemsby RNLI observation tower has fallen into the sea.

Hemsby RNLI observation tower has fallen into the sea. - Credit: Hemsby Lifeboat

Daniel Hurd, from the independent lifeboat crew also confirmed a new lifeboat hut was on its roof after high tides wreaked havoc.

He said: "There's been a significant amount of damage, the RNLI hut is now on its roof and it was only installed the day before yesterday, now it's basically demolished.

"We've had a lot of damage and we had been getting ready for the summer by building the hut.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind.

The RNLI hut which has ended up on its roof at Hemsby Lifeboat. - Credit: Archant

"I just don't know where we're going with this, we've probably lost four metres of beach over the last two days.

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"It's sad really, Hemsby is disappearing and nothing is being done about it."

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind. - Credit: Archant

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: "We would to like to thank the team at Hemsby Independent Lifeboat Service for their support in preventing the structure washing into the sea.

"A combination of a high tide and strong north easterly winds has led to unrepairable damage to the RNLI lifeguard hut."

On Friday morning, gale-force winds were whipping sand into people’s faces as crew from the RNLI tried to clear the wreckage of the toppled watchtower. Crew from Hemsby Lifeboat were continuing to observe erosion and checked in on residents.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune which had been stripped back by the sea and wind, but crews have now managed to secure the pipe.

Hemsby Lifeboat's offshore service will be out of service today until the slipway is reinstated later. However its Broads rescue team will continue as normal.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind. - Credit: Archant

There was also concern over the remaining properties close to the dunes due to the tide and winds, with local coastguard teams in the area to ensure residents in high-risk areas were safe and well.

Bacton and Winterton Coastguard teams conducted a survey and welfare check following the incident, with police and fire officers offering assistance to those at-risk residents.

Members of the RNLI also attended to view the damage and make plans to remove the remains of their equipment this morning, with the area currently cordoned off.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind.

A burst water pipe was sticking out of a dune stripped back by the sea and wind. - Credit: Archant

A statement from Hemsby Lifeboat, read: "We are pleased to confirm that all the residents that were initially considered to be at risk are all safe and well, and as the tide begins to subside, so does the danger and opportunity for more damage.

"It is evident that the work done in the Hemsby Gap area, despite the damage, would have been significantly worse if we had not undertaken the work completed last week. 

"Our thanks to the police, fire and coastguard for their assistance and the RNLI for their co-operation and prompt reaction ready for the clean-up tomorrow.

"Thanks also to the crew, who, despite the challenges faced this week, still managed to turn out and repair as far as possible the damage caused."