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The Belvedere Sea Wall, 1927

Mike Wilson, Local Author and Historian

The South Side Sea Wall and Promenade

The inception of the development of the South Side of Bridlington took place when Messrs Whitaker Bros Ltd, of Leeds, acquired a large area of land in the ancient parish of Hilderthorpe, extending on the sea front from the Harbour to the Borough boundary, and laid out the same.

Messrs Whitaker Bros Ltd protected their sea-board from the end of the Spa wall by a concrete defence at the base of the cliff, of which only a small section now remains extending from Kingston Road to the Belvedere Sea Wall.

In 1919 the Corporation acquired from Messrs Whitaker Bros Ltd a portion of the Foreshore extending from the southern end of the Spa - which had been previously acquired by the Corporation from Messrs Whitaker Bros Ltd, to a point opposite Kingston Road, also the cliff and land fronting Marine Drive.

At the end of the War it was found that the concrete defence constructed by Messrs Whitaker Bros did not afford adequate protection from the ravages of the sea, and also that the buttresses were cracked, the surface of the wall was broken and the steps were crumbling into shapeless slopes, which were dangerous.

The old Sea Wall or Coastal Defence, constructed by Messrs Whitaker Bros Ltd.

In or about the year 1923 the question of providiing work for the unemployed was receiving the serious consideration of the Council, and it was decided that the construction of a sea wall and promenade would be a suitable scheme for the alleviation of unemployment.

Plans and particulars of the proposed Sea Wall and Promenade were accordingly prepared by the then Borough Surveyor, Lt.Col. C. G. Bradley, AMICE, M.Inst, M. & C.E., and upon his resignation in 1923, the Town Council obtained the services of Mr J. H. Haiste, M.Inst. C.E., of Hull, to complete the plans and particulars required for submission to the Ministry of Health for sanction to the borrowing of the requisite loan, and also to the Unemployment Grants Committee for a grant towards the cost thereof. The complete scheme as prepared by Mr J. H. Haiste in collaboration with the late Borough Engineer and Surveyor, Mr A. P. Horsley, and submitted to the Ministry of Health in September, 1923, provided for the construction of a new sea wall and promenade from the southern end of the Spa to the Belvedere Sea Wall, at a total estimated cost of £107,000.

On 12th December, 1923, P. M. Crosthwaite, Esq., M.Inst. C.E., an Inspector of the Ministry of Health, held an Inquiry at Bridlington into the Council's application for sanction to borrow the requisite amount required to carry out the work.

The case for the Corporation was placed before the Inspector by the Town Clerk, who stated that the Council had decided upon this Scheme for the following important reasons:

(1) The great necessity of adequate protection from the sea either by the construction of a New Sea Wall and Promenade or the carrying out of extensive repairs to the old Sea Wall.

(2) In order to provide work for the large number of unemployed men in Bridlington at that time.

(3) The undoubted improvement to the amenities of the town as a whole which would result if the work were carried out.

(4) The space between the new Sea Wall and Promenade and the old Toe Wall would have to be filled iin, and the material required for this purpose could be obtained by dredging the Harbour, which would be thereby improved.

On 10th June, 1924, the Ministry of Health issued formal sanctions, authorising the borrowing of the amounts of £50,838 and £3,162 repayable within twenty years and ten years respectively from the date of the borrowing thereof, for the construction of the first portion of the sea wall and promenade comprised in the scheme, and on 3rd January, 1924, the Unemployment Grants Committee agreed to defray 65% of the Loan Charges for half the period of the loans authorised to be borrowed.

Tenders were thereupon invited by advertisement for constructing the first portion of the Sea Wall and Promenade, and the Town Council accepted the tender of Messrs J. Levitt, Ltd, of Hull, amounting to £53,123.

The work was commenced in May 1924, and completed in December 1927, between which dates employment was found for large numbers of men who would otherwise have been unemployed.

During the progress of the work the Corporation lost the services of the late Mr A. P. Horsley, as Borough Engineer and Surveyor, who was succeeded by Mr A. Everingham.

In addition to the construction of the Sea Wall and Promenade, additional groynes lengthened on the Foreshore, and new approach roads thereto have been constructed leading from Marine Drive. In addition, terraced footpaths have also been constructed between the southern end of the Spa and the Bathing Bungalows, which work was carried out by direct labour under the supervision of the Borough Engineer and Surveyor.

The Wall is 1,530 feet long, and rises 11 feet above high-water mark. It is firmly built upon concrete foundations which extend into the clay beneath the sand to a depth of over 10 feet.

The face of the wall is built of artificial stone blocks formed in the most scientific manner, of a hardness and durability many times greater than that of ordinary sandstone. These blocks are dowelled one into another with iron ties and backed with a wall of solid concrete averaging 6 feet thick.

The cavity between the wall of concrete and the cliff has been filled in with 60,000 tons of material, the greater part of which was dredged from the Harbour.

The construction of the Sea Wall has rendered it possible, when necessity arises, to take the lifeboat down the broad sloping road leading from the Marine Drive to the beach, and launching it from the South Foreshore, which was hitherto impossible.

The total cost of the scheme amounted to £63,694 of which amount £55,100 was expended for work done under contract, and £8,594 for work done by direct labour. Of the total cost of £63,694, £61,648 will rank for grant from the Government.

The Construction of the Sea Wall and Promenade and careful groyning has made the South Beach one of the finest and safest on the North East Coast, and a walk along the new Promenade in the morning sunshine reveals a delightful view of miles of clean firm sand reaching as far as Hornsea on the south, and an uninterrupted view of the Harbour and the bold white cliffs of Flamborough Head on the North.