Our heritage is of national significance

As Cllr Mike Cockerill, Scarborough Council’s Cabinet member for Coast and Flood Protection, said on Radio York on Monday March 18, to mark the opening of the exhibition “he would fight against rock armour on Filey sands but no-one has come up with an alternative at Scarborough”.

So what there is no room for on Filey sands, which go on for miles, is good enough for Scarborough, which has precious little to lose in comparison, particularly at high tide. Alternatives have been suggested. Whitby presumably is having an alternative because they won’t have rock armour. It would spoil the visual effect there! Does the visual effect at the Spa count for nothing?

The Spa is a Grade II* Listed building of the greatest historical significance. The setting counts for everything. Anne Bronte came here in 1849 so that her last few days could be spent enjoying these views and donkey cart rides on the sands. Are we to write off any hope of period dramas in such a dramatic setting as we have done on the Marine Drive by ripping off the Victorian railings and replacing them with a concrete wall?

Many will remember the anglers with their lamps round there on a winter’s night - rods resting on the rails and their catch on the pavement. Always something to see and talk to. Even those in wheelchairs could be anglers down there in the pre-concrete days.

Of course there is an alternative. It has been mentioned more than once in the press. The much more exposed and older Margate stone pier has been secured and stabilised without any change to its appearance by injecting grout into voids within its structure. I have never seen any indication on the Spa of anyone even testing for voids!

The Spa, sands and scenery are the town’s priceless assets. The heritage is of national significance. This is where the British seaside health resort began back in 1626! The setting is magnificent. How many people who have travelled the world say they have seen nothing better than the views they see across the south bay? Isn’t that why they pay to holiday here?

But - and here we come to the dilemma. The old sea wall and the cliff paths at the back of the Spa are showing signs of want of maintenance. How do we get the money? Well - there is big money out there for sea defence problems but not, it appears, for slipping garden paths unless they might be thought to be associated with sea erosion. But how is that possible when they are actually behind the Spa buildings?

I suppose, and it is only guesswork, that if there was a scheme involving such a massive amount of imported rubble - say 22,000 cubic meters covering 10,500 square metres of sand stretching 30 metres out to sea from the existing sea wall and extending 350 metres in length - it might cost going on £17m. But that would at least cover the cliff paths as well.

It all makes it sound as if you have to have the rubble on the sands if you want the cliff paths stabilising. There is no money for the paths without coastal defence.

It begs the question - if we so badly need the imported rubble - how is it that we have managed without it quite nicely since 1626? Or perhaps it is the cash we need and the rubble is the price we have to pay? If so, is it a price worth paying to betray the town’s heritage? Visitors don’t pay to look at rubble. Whitby has spotted that one and, it seems, Filey as well. Wither Scarborough?

Many will have noticed that the Spa is sheltered by the Castle Headland and also protected by a massive outcrop of rock visible at low tide. If it were not so how is it that the existing Spa wall has lasted 140 years and according to Dr Bruce Denness, former Professor of Ocean Engineering, is good for many more - subject, of course, to routine maintenance?

Freddie Drabble

Sons of Neptune

Scalby Road