Lack of beach area causes disappointment

The beach road area of Happisburgh seems to be in danger of losing its popularity among holidaymakers - at least for the time being.

Many people who spend all or part of their annual holidays there, and scores from Norwich and other parts of the county who frequently go there for a day by the sea, have been disappointed this summer because there has been so little beach for them to enjoy.

The trouble is that ever since severe scouring tides earlier this year the beach has not built itself up again. The result is that over quite a long stretch the sea, undeterred by Smallburgh Rural District Council's groynes and revetment, washes up against the base of the cliff for an hour or an hour and a-half almost every day.

This means that for some four hours - two hours before high tide and two hours after - twice a day, there is no beach on the seaward side of the revetment, and even when the water recedes the sand does not have a chance of drying out before it is covered again by the next high tide.

At the weekend, people arriving shortly after 10 o'clock onwards found the water licking at the cliffs. They had the choice of waiting till it went back, knowing full well that even if it did there would be no warm, dry sand on which they could cosily relax, or going elsewhere in search of golden sands.

Narrow strip

Scores chose to wait and hung about on the clifftop and slipway, some patiently, others not so patiently. Those who tired first had to be prepared to splash through water at the foot of the slipway to reach a narrow strip of sand beneath the cliffs to the north.

Many people who have been in the habit of visiting Happisburgh for years have never before seen the sea reach the cliffs in the summertime. They cannot understand why this year the beach is not, as one man put it, "a quarter as good as it was even a year ago."

Another regular visitor who continues to go to Happisburgh because he has "always like d the place," admitted it was some times possible to find a dry patch of sand on the landward side of the revetment. "But, after all, we come to the seaside to see the sea, and you can't blooming well see it huddled behind this thing," he declared, pointing to the revetment.

Another objection he mentioned was that when the water was out far enough for children to bathe, parents liked to be able to keep an eye on them and this was difficult if they had to stay behind the revetment.

Severe loss

It appears the loss of the beach has been particularly severe over a stretch lying between the Low Light and the Manor Park Caravan Camp. This represents the combined distances between about 11 groynes. One man said that the area affected was about five times as big as that with a poor beach in 1965.

How much sand has gone can be seen at low tide, when one set of stairs built over the revetment at a point south of Beach Gap is left dangling some seven feet above beach level. So, for the time being, they are useless as a means of climbing over the revetment except when, as sometimes happens, a kindly resident provides a ladder or a pair of steps to fill the void.

A spokesman for Messrs. Mobbs & English, coast protection consultants to Smallburgh R.D.C., said they, like everyone else, were naturally disappointed the beach at Happisburgh had not built up as hoped.

Explaining that any type of coast protection work was dependent on the co-operation of nature for the achievement of best results, he said it was common experience for a seaside place to have a very good beach in some years and a very poor one in others. This year it was Happisburgh's turn to be unfortunate.

In many places along the coastline within the Smallburgh Council's boundary the beach had built up very well since protection works had been constructed, and a little north of the Beach Road area, towards Ostend, the beach was now the best that had been seen there for years.

Primary Object

The spokesman emphasised that the primary object of providing coast protection works was to protect the coastline; the building up of good beaches was a secondary consideration. But when works achieved both these objectives, naturally it was highly satisfying.

That the works at Happisburgh were achieving their main objective was borne out by the fact that erosion, which had been progressing at the rate of about five feet a year before the works were installed, had been stopped, and the safety of properties which had been as little as 20ft. from the cliff edge had been established.

The spokesman added he was confident that, given reasonably good weather conditions in the months ahead, Happisburgh would build up again.

The R.D.C. had discussed plans for providing spurs between the groynes to encourage a build up of sand on the beach but these had been shelved because of economic restrictions.