Precious sands will be lost

RE: SCARBOROUGH Spa Coast Protection Scheme.

We are among those approached for opinion on the proposals for the above scheme, formulated by consulting engineers Halcrow Group Ltd. They have two proposals. The first would give the Spa the same appearance as the Marine Drive. The alternative would have a massive concrete retaining wall, instead of the rock armour, extending about 40 metres across the sands and stepped up to about two metres from the top of a new wave return wall.

Perhaps few will share our opinions and the purpose of this letter is really to draw attention to what is proposed. Over the years buildings of character have been pulled down in this town and replaced by concrete monstrosities. Less so in Whitby, which is why it is still picturesque, attracting visitors all year round like York.

Is Scarborough going further down the concrete path to scenic oblivion? Maybe there will be enough groundswell of opinion this time in the press to give our councillors support to insist on a restoration scheme. The Spa scene could attract period dramas which are all the rage and would keep this town on the tourist trail.

That depends on the view from the sands as Anne Bronte would have seen it from her donkey cart in 1849 which is very much as we see it today. And it is not just about period dramas - it is also about buckets and spades. A huge area of sand will be lost forever.

Our submission to Halcrow is, therefore as follows:

“The existing stone wall is an integral part of the overall historic heritage of the Spa. It is a beautiful frame to a magnificent building of great architectural merit.

The wall complements the building, Not only that, it is itself a fine example of Victoria marine engineering which has stood the test of time. I have been in this town since 1945 and have never heard of this wall being breached despite many high tides and, indeed, the exceptional one of 1953. This wall is at the forefront of old paintings and photographs. Its sweeping curves and massive stones are as impressive as the Spa buildings and perhaps more so as they not only boldly state their purpose but they have proved themselves fit for purpose. Your alternative solutions of either imported boulders, euphemistically termed rock armour, stacked against the wall or a massive concrete retaining wall which engineers would prefer to confuse the unsuspecting with the French word “revetment” are an insult to Victorian engineers who had the talents to complement great scenery with inspirational use of local materials.

Can I ask your Managing Director, as courteously as possible, to take a walk along the south sands on a fine day in the direction of the Spa and look at what your company propose to destroy.

Destruction comes easy. Is it too much to ask if a company of international repute such as yours is capable of a sympathetic restoration scheme? This town’s lifeblood is scenery. The town needs engineers with the skills of cosmetic surgeons not butcher’s apprentices on this job. Otherwise your company gets paid but the town suffers a major loss of amenity.

Who can be happy unless both parties are winners when millions of taxpayers’ money is being spent?”

If we are about losing precious sands, if we care about a view beloved of artists for centuries and if we care about period dramas keeping this town advertised not only nationally but internationally there is still time to lobby those whose voice will be heard.

A restoration scheme will do this town proud. It is likely to cost far less than what is now proposed. Or is that the problem? Belts and braces are one thing; under the present proposals we are clearing the whole shop out.

Freddie Drabble

Sons of Neptune Ltd

Scalby Road

Scarborough