Please Don’t take our VIPs!
Along with equipment and plants appearing in the shops, Rossall Beach Residents and Community Group are celebrating the start of the gardening season by reminding people not to take the Very Important Pebbles (that’s VIPs!) from the beach to use in their horticultural displays, but to buy them from an approved source instead.
The community group look after the northern stretch of pebble beach at Cleveleys and have enlisted the help of the children of nearby Manor Beach School to produce this video clip that explains why people are asked not to take the pebbles home with them.
The children of Manor Beach School came to the beach and were filmed demonstrating, by using buckets of water, how waves maintain their energy and can bounce high into the air when they hit a wall, compared to how their energy is dissipated when reaching the porous beach.
A high beach is one of the best forms of sea defence that there is – the porosity of the beach material absorbs the energy of the sea and stops big high waves from forming which could otherwise come over the sea wall.
The sea wall where people love to park their cars on Rossall Promenade to watch over the beach is very low, so it’s important that the beach is maintained as a good sea defence. The promenade is on a bit of a higher crest, but the streets heading back towards the tram tracks are below sea level – and they are the ones who would potentially suffer if a flood event were to happen, as they did in the 1 in 200 year storm in 2013.
The pebbles at the top of the beach are vitally important in maintaining the natural sea defence, both by protecting the area from the sea and by potecting the sea wall from damage.
Every year when the weather warms up, people are frequently seen coming to this spot of beach, equipped with buckets and strong bags, in vans and with trailers to take pebbles away in quite large volumes.
It’s not a question of being small minded and worrying about a few pebbles. If everyone who came to this popular spot did what lots of people think it’s OK to do and filled their car boot to the point that the axle was ready for breaking, there would just be no pebbles left here and a lot of homes could be put at risk.
The Rossall Beach Group and the children of Manor Beach School want everyone to be able to enjoy the beautiful beach which all of our volunteers work hard to look after for everyone’s enjoyment.
Taking Pebbles is Nothing New
Published in 2012
Back in 2012 there was a bad spate of people taking large amount of pebbles from the beach, and there were various articles in the press back then.
From the end of the new sea defences at Cleveleys along North Promenade and Rossall Promenade through to the tank traps at Rossall School, the beach is made of shingle and large pebbles, backed by a 1930’s traditional concrete sea wall.
The top section of beach isn’t normally covered throughout the year by normal tides in normal weather conditions, but in winter and in especially rough conditions the sea does reach the sea wall. Being over 70 years old, the sea wall isn’t in a superb state of repair as you would expect, with some significant cracking along its length. However, there aren’t any plans to replace it in the forseeable future.
The pebbles at the top of the beach are vitally important in maintaining a natural sea defence, both by protecting the area from the sea and by potecting the sea wall from damage.
They have the same kind of effect as the new Spanish Steps further towards the centre of town, in that they dissipate the energy of the waves as they hit shore, and reduce their ability to travel up and over the sea wall.
You can actually see the energy of the tide disappearing as it hits the shore – and some of it is converted into the fabulous noise that you hear along the shoreline as they are tumbled and rolled.
North shore drift brings sand and beach material inland from offshore from a point around central Blackpool and this material is deposited by the tide as it drifts northwards. The very top sections of beach aren’t covered by normal tides throughout the year so they don’t get replenished, which is why it’s a problem when they are removed.
People have always taken pebbles off beaches – it’s one of lifes pleasures to pick a few shiny treasures up and pop them in your pocket as a keepsake. That’s not an issue and if you want to keep a few shells, bits of sea glass and glittery quartz then please feel free.
However, this beach at Cleveleys has always been subject to people taking large quantities of pebbles and people come along prepared with all kinds of equipment including snow shovels, heavy duty builders sacks, buckets and boxes, and even trailers and vans – literally filling their boots to the point that it’s a wonder they’ve been able to drive away.
People have even been seen taking the smaller rocks from the end of the terminal rock groyne just past the cafe, which was built to prevent the beach being eroded and formation of huge sandbanks which cause dangerous risk of stranding on incoming tides.
Wyre Council have taken action in the past with the support of the police – the foreshore and pebbles belong to them – and the problem was highlighted through the Blackpool Gazette, with a front page feature item showing the problem. The Sun newspaper then ran a small item the day after. About a week later someone was seen putting pebbles back on the beach, which was covered in a follow up item in the local paper. The Environment Agency also confirmed that the pebbles are a vital natural sea defence and shouldn’t be removed to avoid risk of flooding.
The Sun picked up the return of the pebbles and ran a follow up piece. It’s quite a result which has highlighted the problem, which will be happening on shingle beaches all over the UK. It’s also featured Cleveleys on the national map, twanged at least one conscience to put back what they’d taken, and hopefully raised awareness of why the pebbles should be left where they are.
It’s not petty small mindedness, there’s a good reason, as there is with most things. In the event of a breach, it would be a significant area which would be affected. The promenade is on a slightly raised ridge, with the residential streets behind the sea front heading right back to the tram tracks all on a lower level and a recognised flood plain.
In the 1970’s when the sea last breached the defences, it was this entire area which flooded, affecting hundreds of homes and businesses.
Pebbles are a natural sea defence and protect against flooding