Repair work to save an iconic Northumberland coastal landmark

A sea wall damaged by a storm surge six years ago is to be repaired.

By Janet Hall
Friday, 3rd May 2019, 7:00 am
The damaged seawall at the foot of Church Hill, Alnmouth. Picture by Terry Collinson
The damaged seawall at the foot of Church Hill, Alnmouth. Picture by Terry Collinson

The wall protecting the iconic Church Hill at Alnmouth has been deteriorating since the damage in 2013.

Now Alnmouth Parish Council is delighted that Northumberland Estates has agreed to take on the cost of the repairs.

Chairman Shaun Whyte said: “We are extremely pleased that Northumberland Estates are prepared to take action to protect what we think is an important part of the coastal landscape.

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“Without the repairs to the sea wall, there is a risk of further erosion and Church Hill slipping down into the estuary.

“So we are doubly delighted that the Estates are prepared to spend what will be a considrable amount of money on repairing the sea wall.”

The parish council and Northumberland County Council have been liaising with Northumberland Estates for a number of years over the repairs but the issue was complicated by several factors.

Church Hill lies within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The hill and wall fall outside the village conservation area and are not listed, although a ruined chapel on the west side of the hill is.

The Estates has completed a survey of the wall and now plans to carry out repairs during the next 12 monts, subject to receiving the necessary SSSI permits.

Robin Smeaton, building manager at Northumberland Estates, said: “The wall at the base of Church Hill was built in 1853 on the instruction of the 4th Duke of Northumberland to prevent sea damage to the ancient burial grounds of the churches that had stood in that area prior to the land being lost when the River Aln changed course in 1806.

“With the Percys’ 700-year association with Northumberland, the volume of historic buildings and heritage structures under the Estate’s protection is significant.

“However, we like to help where we can, and recognising that although this is not a listed structure it is of importance to the area, we have agreed to take on the significant cost of these repairs to protect what has become not only something of a landmark for the town and local community, but also a draw for tourists.”