Relief for the village as beach access opens for Easter

Lorna Bevan

Lorna Bevan said Hemsby guests and day-trippers bring millions of pounds of income to this stretch of the Norfolk coast every year

A coastal village pub owner said she was “totally relieved” that access to her “beautiful” beach has been restored in time for the Easter holidays.

Hemsby beach, near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, was closed when high tide washed away meters of sand from an access point called ‘The Gap’.

Rapid erosion in March also led to the demolition of five properties.

Lorna Bevan said that without public access, Hemsby’s tourist businesses “would soon have gone into decline”.

Hemsby beach and sheltered access

Access to Hemsby’s long sandy beach has been repaired and restored

Hemsby beach c 1970

It has undergone considerable coastal erosion since this photo was taken in the 1970s – the blockhouse seen above is now 15m (49ft) below sea level

Ms Bevan, who runs The Lacon Arms and a games arcade, has around 300 people booked for Easter Sunday lunch and expects to serve 600 people altogether.

He says: “Ten years ago at Easter 2013, there was a difference in height to access the beach so people couldn’t access it and it was harmful and compromised income.

“If it’s not open for Easter, we miss the large family groups coming for the day and miss the opportunity for them to think about booking a bigger holiday later in the year.”

Ms Bevan, founder of Save Hemsbys Coastline, which employs 20 people all year round and 50 during the holiday season, added that ‘without people employed in tourism, the village would not have the vibrancy it has now’.

Stuart Reeve

Stuart Reeve said the beach “is the focal point of our little resort and if that suffers, the business community will suffer too”

Stuart Reeve believes Hemsby’s family-run businesses will “breathe a big sigh of relief as the beach reopens before the Easter weekend”.

Mr Reeve is the manager of Seadell Shops and Holiday chalets which has a convenience store and 21 chalets, employing 12 people during the summer season.

“We’ve definitely had a substantial number of calls this month and the first question they ask is, ‘Will the beach be open?'” he said.

“It’s a boost to wider Great Yarmouth and Norfolk tourism – Hemsby has lots of self-catering caravans and chalets and visitors obviously travel out.”

The Gray family

James Gray (right) and his family (above) have owned Madison’s and Lost World Adventure Golf Takeaway for nearly 20 years

“Our beach is Hemsby’s flagship, a lot of people come here and I’d say 90% make their way to the beach,” said James Gray, owner of takeaway Madison’s and Lost World Adventure Golf.

“It’s really heartwarming to see how quickly things can be done when the pressure is on,” he added.

It is another of the village’s family businesses: it employs Mr Gray, his wife, son, daughter, boyfriend and sister-in-law.

He said: “The weather has remained good so we’ve had a really good week of trading – we’re optimistic for a really good weekend.”

Justin Ettridge

Justin Ettridge was impressed with the work and is ‘pleased and grateful’ it was completed in time for the Easter weekend

Richardson’s Hemsby Beach Holiday Park has around 2,000 people booked into its caravans and lodges over Easter and employs 82 people at the height of the summer season.

Park and customer experience manager James Ettridge said there had been “some concern from regular customers about access to the beach” so “we’re really pleased to open the beach”.

“And the work done by the contractors, with the local people, including the lifeboat crew, has been outstanding,” he added.

Property on eroded dunes in Hemsby on the north side of the gap

These Hemsby properties were on the verge of going to sea in March

Hemsby was affected by high spring tides and strong winds in March.

Five houses were demolished in less than two weeks before falling into the sea and another washed inland.

An 80 m (262 ft) rock revetment was installed as a temporary solution, created from 2,000 tons of Norwegian granite.

Rock defense work has also been completed to protect the restored beach access point and provide a new ramp, so the lifeboat can return to service.

Plans for a permanent defense extending 0.8 miles (1.3km) have been licensed by the Marine Management Organisation, but Great Yarmouth Borough Council needs to find £15m to get the job done.

Hemsby Street and shops

Mr Reeve said there are many family businesses on Hemsby Beach Road

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