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
|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|
... 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|
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.
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