Recently, Scarborough was visited by leading historians of English Heritage: one of them had come all the way from Swindon. They were here to start preparations for a new publication in their celebrated series on the history and architecture of England’s seaside towns. And since Scarborough has the strongest claim to be the world’s earliest coastal holiday and health resort, they were keen to give it and the spa a major, illustrated treatment.
However, when I told them that Scarborough Borough Council intended to pile 23,000 cubic metres of ugly, dangerous rock armour, covering an area of 10,500 metres, on South Bay sands directly in front of the Spa sea wall, their first reaction was disbelief, their second astonishment, and their third horrified indignation. After all, this is precisely the place where Scarborough pioneered sea-bathing as a medical and recreational activity and the first English beach ever to be used as a public playground.
Then, when I explained that Town Hall councillors had already agreed that this rock revetment was the only solution to save an alleged “crumbling” marine promenade, my friends of English Heritage were dumbfounded. Were these councillors not aware that Margate’s stone pier, dating back to 1812, 250 metres long and exposed on both sides to the violence of the sea, had been successfully secured and stabilised without any change to its outward appearance? By injecting grout into voids within the existing structure, M&J Drilling had finished the work in January and February 2012! (New Civil Engineer, 12/4/12, p.30). Who were the professional engineers that the Borough Council had employed to recommend such a monstrous, unnecessary scheme, they asked.
Letters have been written to some Scarborough councillors who have not had even the courtesy to acknowledge them, so that the Sons of Neptune have yet again had to appeal to more enlightened and better informed bodies such as the Victorian Society, English Heritage, the Environment Agency and their own independent experts. Readers will remember that this is not the first time the Sons have been compelled to fight the good fight against the inertia, ignorance and indifference of our so-called representatives. They were proved right before and they are right now.