Thursday, 30 April 2020

Groynes from Guyanan Greenheart-timber protecting our Eastbourne seafront ...


Perhaps we don’t think of the seafront needing protection … but the power of the tides never stops … the constant rise and fall of the sea stresses and strains the tidal zone: between the sea and actual land.


2005 - Eastbourne seafront -
showing the groynes
The land where the town now stands was protected by its natural shingle shoreline … but as the shingle was naturally moved eastwards it was constantly eroding the shoreline.

 

Collapsed and useless groynes in 1990 -
after a number of storms prior to that date

The groynes were a Georgian/ Victorian engineering invention to counter this tidal subjugation – a necessity, in the late 1800s, when the town was being turned into a resort …




A sea wall was required, which then itself needed protection … the development of Eastbourne as a seaside town was started … sea-bathing, and even drinking sea-water, as cure-alls had been popularised from the late 1600s.


A railway advert - not sure of the date
 ... the cars look rather like toy ones?!


By the 1750s the south coast’s hamlets and fishing harbours were just starting to grow into the seaside resorts we know today.  Eastbourne being known as “The Empress of Watering Places” …






… probably because King George III’s children paid a visit to the sea-resort in 1780 … a ringing endorsement which popularised the town as a place to visit …


Restoration in 2016 taking place


… they stayed at the eastern end of the town, in ‘The Round House’ built over the ruined Roman villa, where the pier now stands … before the Georgian/ Victorian redevelopment of the sea front and promenade.






Toys for the boys ... work in progress 2016

A huge amount of reconstruction occurred as the sea-front was built to withstand the force of the sea … today it is eye-watering to think of the vision in the 1800s needed to design Eastbourne’s frontage …






In 2016 the plans of the works were displayed ... here
is shingle being pumped, from barges, onto the foreshore
The 94 timber groynes formed a major part in diverting the strength of the tides … they were replaced in the 1920 – 1930s, then after serious storms in the late 1900s when the shingle had been washed away … the groynes had gradually collapsed exposing the foundations of the sea wall.





Repaired groynes in April 2020
By the early 1990s it was decided that larger groynes would be used, with extra shingle being brought in from the Isle of Wight ... 


Greenheart  timber: in Guyana
Chlorocardium


... sustainable Guyanan Greenheart timber would be used, which is hard, durable, resistant to rot, abrasion and attack by marine woodworm.







So we come to the 2015 – 2020 when the groynes needing to be replaced … one shown here … the images giving you an idea of the ongoing repairs … along the nearly 4 mile frontage …




2016 - working to build up the shingle - which helps
to protect the seafront


As with many Victorian developments, the promenade was built on top of the shingle beach, particularly eastwards from the pier: this ‘fixed’ the shoreline in a position that was unsustainable …






… the sea would always breach … the seawall would be undermined, leading to collapse and Eastbourne town being flooded.


Groyne much loved by sea plants and
molluscs ... 


Thus the groynes are essential to our seafront today … the sustainable timber lasts about 40 years, while the older it gets the harder it becomes… and won’t even float in water. 




Groynes stretching eastwards -
all 94 of them


Maintaining our coastal defences against the power of the sea never stops … while the moon unceasingly controls the tides, so we need our coastal engineers and we need those groynes.






Eastbourne beach looking east from the pier

Two hundred and fifty years on we can safely, probably more safely, promenade along our seafront … and no doubt, in due time, the town will be full of visitors once more.



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

46 comments:

Terra said...

This post is fascinating to me, as I live two blocks from the Pacific Ocean which of course relentlessly pushes waves against our cliffs, which undergo constant reinforcement with giant boulders. I had never heard the word groynes before, thanks for the info.

Elephant's Child said...

Groynes is both a fascinating word and concept.
And proof positive (if we need it) that we can only stem the tide on a temporary basis.
Thank you for yet another fascinating post.

Anabel Marsh said...

I have never given any thought into how much work goes into these defences - until now. Fascinating.

Inger said...

A new word for me as well, groynes. You know I wanted to write about Sweden's first suburb. The way you write about your town, is easy to read and always interesting. I need to cut back on my wordiness, or whatever it's called. Too many words. I will let you be my inspiration for that project, which will not show up on my blog for a while. This was a really interesting post.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
LOL - this took me back to my geography classes at school! Much of the UK coast has groynes - well, the places of Victorian beach interest anyway!!! this was a lovely potted history of Eastbourne's seaside heritage. YAM x

Liz A. said...

Drinking sea-water...? Ick.

There's something about a beach. The water. The waves. We're drawn there. But keeping that area safe... Lots of work to do.

Joanne said...

I think we discussed after a previous sea post - the power of water. It will always win. And engineers can design new,bigger, better, and the wave will wash away (sooner or later) what is in the way. I do hope folks can come back soon and stroll the promenade safely. It looks lovely and I'm sure that air is refreshing. I'm drawn to the sea - possibly a mermaid in a previous life.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

As one who lives near the NC coast, I have a different perspective. The beach and coast are forever changing - to build near there is folly.

Kay G. said...

Why, oh why, didn't the powers that be in the USA understand the need for the sea defenses like they do in Britain? I am very familiar with Eastbourne and remember the old groynes from 1985! I think they used some of the old ones to make some art pieces out of them.
Thanks very much for this post.
I adore Eastbourne and the seafront and I hope it is always well cared for, I know it will be!!

Jz said...

Good heavens!
That pumper is shooting shingle like it was water, not stone.
Wow.

Botanist said...

At any moment in time, seafronts like this look timeless and unchanging. It's easy to forget that anything we do to stem the power of nature is little more than a temporary fix!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Terra – I can imagine (and have seen) the power of the Pacific … here with our geology – England would be swamped by it. I guess over history … these became an engineering achievement …

@ EC – man has always been inventing controls to ease their way of life … and these must have developed over time … I haven’t noted or found out how they came about. The tide cannot be stopped … as we even in this modern world have seen. Very glad you enjoyed it …

@ Anabel – I think it was probably more the ‘want’ to develop Eastbourne as a viable sea resort that spurred on these sea defences … and the Victorians didn’t do it by halves!

@ Inger – I do know you wanted to write up the development of Stockholm – which will be so interesting to read. I’d never really got to grips with the changes to Eastbourne’s seafront before … but writing about the groynes helped me understand a bit more. I’m glad the post has encouraged you to think about planning a post on early Stockholm …

@ Yam – thank you … I love geography … but this bit of the coastline here has changed so much. Delighted you enjoyed the tour with the groynes centre post, so to speak!

@ Liz – yes … quacks established ideas for later man to build some sense into. I love the sea and like you always have done.

@ Joanne – I’m sure we did mention the power of the sea in many of my previous Eastbourne or coast posts – it will, as you note, overtime always win in one way or the other. Yes whatever we engineer … there has to be a time when those engineered builds won’t be there. I must say – it’s rather nice without too many people!!

@ Diane – well … your coastline is much the same as ours … soft and liable to encroachment or eroding. Our coast has dramatically changed since Roman times, and prior to that before the English Channel was formed about 10,000 years ago …

@ Kay – different geology and oceans v the Channel – different bodies of water. Yes, there is a sculpture … which in due course I will write about and a recent exhibition …

@ Jz – yes … when there’s work on the seafront making sure the promenade and sea-wall will be safe … it’s really quite noisy – with the shingle being moved around, and the barge discharging the stone shingle to add more security to our defences.

@ Ian – I know … and to think the seafront wasn’t like this two hundred years ago … one day something will happen and the town will be catastrophically swamped.

Thanks so much to you all for your interesting comments … there’s so much to history – from all angles of disciplines … I’m glad I’ve written this up – helped me a lot!!

Take care and look after yourselves … all the best - Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

The first thing that caught my eye was the Allchorn pleasure boat in the top picture! I remember they had two, the Southern Queen and the William Allchorn and they did two trips, one to Beachy Head and the other to the Sovereign Lighthouse. And then I remembered the speedboat that took us on scary rides from the end of the pier! Happy days!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Won't float in water - that's some hard wood.
The ocean and nature will always work to reclaim the beaches though.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good morning Hilary: I suspect that most nations will be having to seriously examine the question of sea defences as sea level rise starts to occur across the world. Many nations, especially smaller island nations, will be unable to afford the massive expenditures required and will disappear. The Netherlands is probably well-equipped to counsel the rest of the world on how to deal with the sea. It should not be overlooked that a warming climate results in stronger hurricanes and typhoons, which exacerbates the problem exponentially.

Mason Canyon said...

Hilary, a fascinating post. We don't stop and think about all the hard work that goes into protecting us from the sea.

Jacqui Murray said...

Very interesting, Hilary. I didn't know about this eroding shoreline. I came across another in England as I was researching ancient man on that island. The eroding shoreline on the southeast shore exposed remains of man from 850,000 ish years ago. What a surprise for everyone--and fit perfectly into my next book! As always, your posts inspire.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

You've taught me a new word today... groyne. I even looked it up in my dictionary, and it defined it as an alternative spelling for "groin." HA Not the info I was looking for, so I'll have to plunge into the depths of the internet to learn more. :)

The ocean, especially when it's riled by a hurricane, wreaks havoc on our coastlines. Man struggles to protect what is "his", and the ocean fights back to reclaim it. An endless struggle, but for those of us who love visiting the shore, a fight worth having.

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

I knew a lot of engineering, materials and work went into protecting coastlines, but I've never heard these terms before. It's too bad we're so drawn to live by or sometimes right on the water, life might be made a bit easier if we didn't. But then, so much of our livelihoods came from the oceans and still do. You always surprise me with the information you provide in your posts. I enjoy my visits here.

Andrea

Rhodesia said...

Hi Hilary, yet another very interesting post. Maybe lock-down has helped as it seems to have improved the atmosphere and maybe the ice will not melt so quickly and climate warming will slow down. Just maybe, people will appreciate what has happened to the world and it may all help in the end.
Have a good and safe weekend, Diane

Deborah Weber said...

Fascinating post Hilary. I know so little about the sea and coastal living, I'm always learning things from you. Chicago is experiencing serious lakefront erosion, and we're only on a Great Lake, not the ocean.

Dan said...

I enjoyed reading the history. It's so hard to imagine the efforts they went to in a time when tools and techniques were primitive by comparison to what we understand today.

A Cuban In London said...

Fascinating post. i love the word goyness. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Hilary -
I also live beside an ocean.
Such an interesting and fascinating post. Thank you for sharing this.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

I found this very interesting

Sue Bursztynski said...

Oh, yes, erosion is always there! I live near the sea too, though no cliffs near where we are. This is a fascinating post!

Chatty Crone said...

I knew about erosion - but I didn't think about erosion. I think a lot of people are like that - we have to think and pl an ahead.

Pradeep Nair said...

Yes, sea fronts need to be cared for like any other place, though one initially would think there is no need for it. A nice post with so much information about the lovely works that have been done.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith – yes those Allchorn pleasure boats in the summer were a great boon to taking trips down to the Cuckmere and back; and yes they did have two – before I left for Canada – one of them was being restored … a little museum was being created by passionate volunteers – I’ll check when life returns. Oh I didn’t realise one of the trips was out to the Sovereign Lighthouse – you’ve taught me something. Yes … happy days …

@ Alex – yes … it is a very hard wood and resistant to marine worm – makes it very special. I know the ocean and nature will always adjust as time goes on.

@ David – the changes occurring in global systems will affect much of our lives, especially all the low-lying countries and islands. As you mention storms … and global movements … earthquakes, et al – so much to wreak havoc on humanity’s future life …

You’re right the Netherlands grasped the problems very early … in fact they used flood controls as defences as far back as the 1700s … but the storms of the 1920s and then the storm surge of 1953 – devastating our east coast as well- spurred them on with the Delta works and the Zuiderzee works, and so it continues – they do lead the world.

@ Mason – you’re right … we don’t think about what happened before, and how we got to where we are today …

@ Jacqui – yes a lot of Britain, as other countries have eroding shorelines too. The area you’re talking about is East Anglia, which is north of London, whereas we’re along the south coast. The land constantly moves, erodes, grows … I’m so glad you were able to fit the ideas into your recent series.

@ Susan – groyne is an interesting word isn’t it … I couldn’t find out much about it … except apparently it means ‘snout’ – perhaps going back to the 12th century – and is of Latin origin – meaning strong, low sea wall. I know I avoided bringing ‘groin’ in to it …

Our planet ‘lives’ with weather systems, sun-bursts, let alone the formation and development of continental masses … today we’re in a very brief time zone – the world is constantly changing … man has always had to adjust and in the process learn to do things …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Andrea – groynes are only relevant in certain areas … just they’re very pertinent here – as in other areas of Britain and Europe … but they occur in other parts of the world. Originally we could only live by the sea as that’s where our trade came from … as we explored and exploited inland, using the rivers … hence our love of being near the water.

@ Diane – certainly it is much quieter and cleaner … let’s hope people will appreciate the world we live in, and thus we can protect its resources … particularly the natural ones – after all man has created where we’re at now …

@ Deborah – that’s great … so pleased it’s eye opening for you. Living on your continent … gives you a different perspective of life on land v the ocean or enormous river frontages. Yet Lake Michigan is enormous (size and depth wise) compared to our English Channel … and I know influences its land in many ways … including your lakefront erosion …

@ Dan – thanks … they really created a new seafront here for the Victorian rich … and yes early development was incredibly primitive and hard work for the poor …

@ ACIL – good to see you and thank you … so glad you enjoyed the word ‘groyne’ … it is different …

@ Donna – I know you live by the north-east Pacific Ocean which has a great deal of oceanic movement, as too earthquake likelihood with subsequent tsunamis a constant threat …

@ Jo-Anne – good to see you …

@ Sue – yes there’s always erosion and most of the population in Australia lives near the oceans …

@ Sandie – thank you … it’s interesting to think back and ‘work out’ how we got here and learn from that history …

@ Pradeep – the sea/water constantly changes our sea-fronts or river fronts … which governments and engineers worry about. Delighted you enjoyed the post and its information …

Thanks so much to you all – so pleased you enjoyed the read about that strange word ‘groyne’ and our Eastbourne seafront. Take care and stay safe - Hilary

Hels said...

Going to the seaside resorts used to be a wonderful way to spend the summer holidays, and will be again *fingers crossed*. But I agree that the promenade, pleasure pier, gardens and classy hotels need to be carefully protected.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

That was really interesting, Hilary. You do wonder what our seaside towns looked like before they were developed - and what the coast (and shape of our island) would look like if sea defences had not been installed. Need to visit Eastbourne again when this is all over - haven't been for years. Stay safe.

DMS said...

This is my first time hearing of groynes. I learned a lot about them today! I was just talking about coastlines eroding last night- so this was a timely post for me. :) Thanks for all the information and I hope they groynes keep the town safe.

Stay safe-
~Jess

Friko said...

Hi Hilary,

are you keeping safe in lovely Eastbourne? One of these days I will visit the town and admire what you are describing here.
One day when all this is over again and we are free to roam at will.

H.R. Sinclair said...

So fascinating how much goes into keeping the beaches from washing away.

Nas said...

Hi Hilary, this is an interesting post. I live on a small island nation and sea is all around us.

Stay safe!

Vagabonde said...

That was an informative post. I did not know this word groynes and have no idea how to pronounce it. Some coastal towns in Georgia had to bring tons of sands to their beaches (and keep tourists) but then with a hurricane, it was all gone. I think the sea will be victorious in the end.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Hels – yes we used to come down a little further east of here – my father’s mother had moved there. I sincerely hope life will come back to some degree of normality ‘fairly soon’. The seafront is an iconic one with any number of heritage buildings and then the history of the surrounds.

@ Mike – thank you … so much has changed and to a point we know what the coastline was like over the past few millennia … from goods found, soil conditions, better technology etc … and historically we know 1066 AD (William the Conqueror) occurred because of the ‘deep’ water port along the coast at Pevensey – which is now land. If you come down – please get in touch …

@ Jess – well when I put the word up I wondered about it – but as they’d repaired many of the 94 groynes for another few decades (possibly til 2060) I thought I could write it up. Interesting how our thoughts can cross-refer unintentionally. We’ll be safe as long as a landslip and subsequent tsunami in the Canary Islands doesn’t occur.

@ Friko – so good to see you … yes all well here, thank you. Taking things easily – but getting on with a lot of clearing out. It’ll be lovely to see you down here at some stage – as I think you spent some time in the area around Seaford back in the day. Eastbourne’s history is fascinating … as are other towns, I’m sure …

@ Holly – yes, as soon as man worked out he could alter nature – he started to look after his lands. It’s interesting how things have been changed …

@ Nas – I can imagine how you must feel living in an archipelago … beautiful, but also worrying …

@ Vagabonde – I’m glad you enjoyed the post and learning about the word ‘groynes’ … it’s pronounced as the word ‘groin’. Yes the hurricanes can be devastating to your coastline … but as you say … nature will win in the end.

Thanks so much to you all for being here – and for appreciating the groynes and the work they do to protect our towns … stay safe and look after yourselves - Hilary

Sandra said...

Nature seems hell bent on taking back her own, doesn't she?

Sandra Cox said...

I always learn new words at your place, such as groynes:) I thank you:)
Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hi Hilary! I also never knew about groynes before, and how essential they are along the coastline. The Eastbourne seafront looks lovely with breathtaking views.

Stay safe and healthy!

Julie

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Hi Hilary. It's so nice to be back. I missed your posts. I love the UK and can't wait to get back. There is so much to see and so little time. It's good to hear that you're safe and healthy.

cleemckenzie said...

Wow! What a saga this costal area has to tell. I'm still scratching my head over the timber that's so heavy it won't float. Great post, Hilary. Always learn so much about your part of the world when I visit. Thanks.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love this post. Having lived near the sea most of my life, I'm familiar with the amount of erosion the land takes in those areas, and how important it is to protect the coastlines. Even rivers have similar problems, though not as intense.

Fil said...

Hi Hilary
Such an interesting post - I never knew they were called groynes - they're so spectacular along the Kent coast as well ....there are some in Newcastle here - our village and the next town along were big Victorian resorts too ... but we face south.
Some day I'd love to visit the south coast of England - really looking forwarda to packing the car for a trip again.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra – thanks for both your comments - nature is always after her own …

@ Julie – it seems Groyne is a new word for many of you – they’ve been used over the centuries in earlier forms by the Romans onwards. Eastbourne with the background of the Downs and its chalk cliffs is really pretty …

@ Joylene – good to see you … and to know you’re back. Yes – we have some beautiful areas … while there’s so much history in this country, linked across to Europe … yes so little time with so much to see …

@ Lee – thanks … and that’s only a bit of detail over 200 years … it’s the other 5,000 to 10,000 years that set our Sussex/English history. I too was amazed to read that the timber won’t float … so fascinating to find out …

@ Lynda – yes I think anyone living near an eroding coast or by the rocky parts of our land where the sea rarely gets past – appreciates the power of the sea at work. You’re right rivers also need to be tamed occasionally …

@ Fil – yes there are lots around various parts of our coastline – where the geology is right. Well we face south across the English Channel … it’s just the prevailing wind is usually a westerly – hence the tide takes the shingle eastwards. I look forward to seeing you down here sometime … I bet you’re ready to get out and about again.

Thanks so much to you all … carry on looking after yourselves, family and friends - Hilary