COASTAL EROSION

The East of England has a long coastline – a coast, which has very much changed in the last 2000 years. The power of the sea can be seen in many part: The soft coasts of Norfolk can be lost at the rate of one to three meters per year, while the old centre of Lowestoft is now  further away from the sea than it was 500 years ago.This situation is not new: In Roman times, the coastline near Felixtowe was perhaps three miles further out from where it is now.  As a result of coastal erosion, a large quantity of the ancient surface lies now underwater. Over the centuries, whole towns were lost to the sea (e.g. Dunwich, Easton Bavents, Old Felixstowe)

WALTON-ON-THE-NAZE

Walton-on-the-Naze is an attractive traditional seaside town and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. But it also has a history of coastal erosion:

1300 AD
Originally, Walton was a farming village situated miles inland, and it did not become a coastal region until the 1700s. Over the centuries large quantities of land were lost to the sea due to coastal erosion (known as the prebend of “Consumpta per Mare”). Archaeological digs have suggested that the Romans occupied the area, followed by the Saxons, who named the place Weala tun (a place of farmers of the Britons).

1800 AD
Untill 1800, huge parts of the medieval settlement have been washed away, culminating in the loss of the All Saints church in 1789. In 1800, the community of Walton consisted of 250 inhabitants, with neighbouring Frinton housing only 30. Its history as a seaside resort began in the early 19th century. In those days it is likely that people from the district were the main visitors to the seaside town. As its popularity grew Walton began to rival many other seaside towns. The railway and the building of the pier (suitable for steamboats) contributed to the expansion of the town, Walton became quite popular in Victorian times. After the Second World War Walton’s popularity as a seaside resort declined. The Naze tower was build in 1720 to serve as a lighthouse for ships going to Harwich.

TODAY
Today, the town of Walton is protected by a concrete sea wall and wooden groynes. This coastal protection line starts south-west of Clacton and goes up to the Naze where it leaves the last mile unprotected. The Naze itself is eroding heavily. Pillboxes from the Second World War have fallen from the cliff and are lying on the beach, illustrating how fast coastal erosion continues (1-2 meter per year). If erosion is not stopped, the Naze tower is likely to be lost to the sea within the next 50 years and the Naze might become an island.

WHY WALTON?

The LOST TOWN feasibility study included an evaluation of alternative sites for the project, all along the East Anglian coast. Due to its  landscape qualities and historic assets, Walton-on-the-Naze turned out to be the most suitable location for the LOST TOWN project.  Walton-on-the-Naze constitutes a high-quality environment for the LOST TOWN project: Walton shows a massive example of coastal erosion on the Naze and has a history of land loss. The educational aspect of the LOST TOWN project is highly emphasised if confronted with today’s ongoing reality of coastal erosion. The pillboxes from the Second World War on the beach and the Naze Tower, threatened by coastal erosion, witness the process. Walton has the second longest pier in the UK, offering additional viewpoints on the sculpture. Furthermore it could be used for boat trips towards the sculpture.

The sculpture is also visible from Harwich and Felixstowe, it will become a symbol for the whole Haven Gateway Area. 2 Mio ferry passengers from Europe will pass by the sculpture every year.

The town needs regeneration and new development. Walton is classed Urban Regeneration Area.

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