Flood defences keep the coastal areas of the UK safe, but erosion and ferocious winter storms cause a number of houses to fall into the sea each year.
Dramatic photos and videos show the effects of the combination of battering winds, high tides, climate change and land slips. It’s predicted that the next century will see £1 billion worth of properties perish into icy waters with 800 homes toppling over in the next two decades alone.
The most vulnerable county needing extra flood defences is Cornwall with North Norfolk, East Riding of Yorkshire and Scarborough being the next locations deemed the most precarious.
Government agencies are working to cease the tide of houses which often fall unexpectedly with increasing flood protection plans. Affected homeowners are ensuring they have their own defences at the ready.
Here though are 10 houses where it is now too late to protect the memories and assets of the four walls formerly known as ‘home’.
1. Hemsby, North Norfolk
Homeowners could only watch on in sadness as five bungalows fell into the winter waves at Hemsby in December 2013. Tidal surges caused the devastation along the coast line and the cliff edge began to slip away. Residents moved to safety and a chain of help saw possessions being rescued but they then had to stand back and watch everything else they owned suddenly disappear as the land fell away.
2. Torquay, Devon
The sea turned red the day the dream home Sue Diamond bought only three years earlier collapsed onto the shore below.
After buying in an auction, she had only owned it for a week before the first rocks at the end of her garden fell to the beach below. It was 36 months later though that the house succumbed to the sea following many weeks of heavy rain and high winds.
3. Birling Gap, Eastbourne, Sussex
A hundred years ago, buying one of the imposing Victorian terrace homes with cliff top views would have caused few issues in the minds of those who lived there. Just over a century later though, coastal erosion has eaten huge areas of the cliff away and is now taking the houses – one by one.
The homes today:
4. Skipsea, Yorkshire
Residents of Green Lane in Skipsea are taking matters into their own hands to protect their properties after seeing neighbouring homes disappear into the chilly North Sea. One resident who has lived there for 25 years has seen the village coastal road disappear followed by large pieces of neighbouring gardens. They are now working together to protect their once desirable homes.
There are around 20 houses left on the lane and it’s predicted that the next few years will see them all disappear or be demolished due to being structurally unsafe as they teeter over the edge.
5. Happisburgh, Norfolk
Until very recently, only one resident remained along the edge of the coast in this once idyllic part of Happisburgh.
In 2012, all the neighbours of retired teacher Bryony Nierop-Reading moved from their properties after being offered compensation as the area of Happisburgh was deemed too dangerous. Bryony decided to stay though but after seeing the cliff edge move ever closer and her house eventually begin to topple over the edge this year, she finally decided to move.
From the late 1990s, erosion quickly took hold and a road, garden and the houses her neighbours lived in all eventually disappeared and so for two years she was the last permanent resident there.
1998 and 2007:
6. Whitby, Yorkshire
A whole row of cottages overlooking the bay at Whitby had to be demolished following a flash flood landslide in 2012. Previously lived in by the fishermen and then jet-stone workers, heavy rain meant the drainage system was unable to cope and the sheer amount of water caused all the gardens to fall by 10 metres. Whilst these homes didn’t disappear into the sea, the torrent of flood water meant this row of cliffside houses had a very watery grave as they were taken down by diggers and wrecking balls.
7. Holbeck Hall Hotel, Scarborough, Yorkshire
Once a grand hotel which looked after the every need of discerning guests, the Holbeck Hall Hotel found itself at the mercy of the elements when part of it slipped over the cliff top in 1993 following a massive landslide.
The remainder of the building was demolished and paths for walkers are all that can be seen in the spot today.
8. The home of Kate Bush near Kingsbridge, Devon
Singer Kate Bush is facing the battle of saving her home from toppling over the edge of the cliff in Devon. She’s already lost part of her land to the crashing waves below and is now taking preventative action to stop the rest of her home ending up in the same place.
Having owned it for 10 years now, she is clearly in love with the area so has decided to spend thousands to try to stop it crumbling away.
9. Redclifee Road, Torquay
At first glance this seems like any other cul de sac in the UK. Look more closely though and you’ll notice the property at the end is derelict. It’s not through fire or lack of maintenance, it’s because the rest of the building has fallen over the edge of the cliff.
The whole of Redcliffe Road in Torquay has been dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Dangerous Street’ and the neighbouring property is now too unsafe to be habitable as it also faces falling the 50 metres to the shoreline below.
10. Porthkerry, Wales
It’s not only houses which succumb to the sea. A whole row of holiday caravans were left hanging over a cliff edge following a massive landslide in November 2011. It was fortunate that none tipped over onto the rocky shore and the rescue work was hazardous for those tasked with moving the caravans back from the edge.