TM5282 : Subterranean building revealed in cliff face

taken 3 years ago, near to Covehithe, Suffolk, Great Britain

Subterranean building revealed in cliff face
Subterranean building revealed in cliff face
Site of a Second World War heavy anti aircraft (Diver) battery in the Diver Strip on Covehithe Cliffs. It was armed with four 3.7-inch Mark IIc guns equipped with Predictor BTL, and Radar AA No.3 Mark V when it was deployed here on 24th November 1944, and was manned by 401 Battery of 122 Anti Aircraft Artillery Regiment. It formed part of 40 Heavy Anti Aircraft Brigade deployment (S2). Since 1940, about 500 yards of cliff have been lost at this point which would suggest that the installation was over a quarter of a mile from the cliff edge at the time. There is no access from the surface. For a closer look see: LinkExternal link
East Suffolk coastline erosion
In the 19th century, a variety of groynes and breakwaters were constructed in an attempt to protect Southwold's shoreline. In 1899-90 timber breastwork was constructed on two levels as protection for the town, and a major new project was undertaken in 1903 to create sea defences. The work has continued ever since with the construction of concrete promenades > LinkExternal link which stemmed the erosion to the coastal border of the town. The groynes > LinkExternal link were renewed in 1980. In 2005 a major new sea defence programme was begun by the Environment Agency in conjunction with Waveney District Council which involved the building of a completely new set of timber groynes in front of the town and huge rock groynes to the north of the pier. The beach was afterwards recharged with new sand to replace that which had been scoured away. Despite all efforts, high tides and gale force winds sometimes still drive the sea over the promenade, and the groynes are sinking into the sand.

The defence works stop just short of Easton Bavents > LinkExternal link where building is not allowed and no protection will occur. This will eventually result in the loss of (what is left of) the village of Easton Bavents, and surrounding farmland. House owners decided to take matters into their own hands. Since 2002 one of them has used more than a quarter of a million tons of clay, shingle and building site waste to shore up the cliff > LinkExternal link - LinkExternal link in an effort to protect his property from being washed into the sea. When Natural England in 2005 designated the cliff a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), preventing residents from further work, an appeal was made and eventually won so that the work could continue, provided planning permission for the construction of private defences were granted. However, despite all efforts the two houses immediately concerned > LinkExternal link are at present only metres away from the cliff edge, and plans are now underway to raise money to pay for the demolition costs.

Easton Bavents, once sheltered by Sole Bay, used to be the most easterly point of Britain, until erosion took much of it away and Lowestoft became the most easterly location. Once a prosperous community with a market, a fair and churches, the church of St Nicholas as well as most of the houses of the village had been lost to the sea by the 17th century. Sole Bay once used to be a real bay - set between the twin promontories of Easton Bavents and Dunwich to the south - before erosion, exacerbated by a prevailing south-westerly wind, reshaped the whole coastline. The village just to the north of Easton Bavents, Covehithe, lost 17 metres of coastline in one year in the 1990s. The erosion of the sand cliffs at Easton > LinkExternal link continues, and there is fear that one day the sea will break through and sweep in towards the town of Southwold, coming over the marshes from the north. The B1127 road is already notorious for being flooded quite regularly a short distance further to the north, by Potters Bar > LinkExternal link .

Since 2005 this section of coastline forms part of the Pakefield to Easton Bavents SSSI which is nationally important for its assemblage of scarce vascular plants and species of breeding birds including a wintering population of bittern (Botaurus stellaris). There are also a number of features of special interest such as the coastal geomorphology at Benacre Ness, the Pleistocene vertebrate palaeontology and Pleistocene / Quaternary of East Anglia at Easton Bavents > LinkExternal link as well as vegetated shingle, saline lagoons > LinkExternal link and flood-plain fens. A by-product of the coastal erosion in the area are the many finds of fossils that have been discovered over the years. Deposits of amber and jet as well as petrified wood have also been uncovered, and in 2006 erosion revealed the remains of what is believed to be 17th century salt pans.
WWII fortifications along the East Anglian coast
Along the East Anglian coastline, as elsewhere in the British Isles, a number of WWII coastal anti-invasion defences remain more or less intact. Between Felixstowe and The Wash, a large number of these were hastily constructed in 1940, necessitated by the imminent invasion by Nazi Germany (Operation Sealion). Out of an estimated 28,000 only just over 6,000 survive.
Many are hidden from view; others have now become part of the landscape, some put to other uses.
The defences take various forms, the most commonly seen is the pillbox, (sometimes called a blockhouse) these themselves come in many forms: usually having four, five or six facets. The most common being the hexagonal shape with a blast wall protecting the entrance. The embrasures differ too, from small to large and varying in number in each wall. Occasionally a narrow slit along the whole of the wall facing the invader is the only opening although these are usually observation posts. Other defences can also still be found, tank-traps, great square concrete blocks, and some pyramidal called dragonís teeth were in the 1950s a common sight on the side of a strategic road. Most if not all these have been removed. The Royal Observer Corps had many installations too, some looking quite like pillboxes but with a completely different operational role.
Today they are nothing more than permanent monuments and a silent tribute to the courage and tenacity of the British people during the uncertainty of the early 1940s when Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany.
See also LinkExternal link and LinkExternal link
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Adrian S Pye and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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TM5282, 54 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Tuesday, 2 September, 2014   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 2 September, 2014
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Defence, Military 
Primary Subject of Photo
Military Relic 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TM 52829 82295 [1m precision]
WGS84: 52:22.8167N 1:42.8114E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TM 5282 8226
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph
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