Beach boffins calculate castle formula

IT is a question that has baffled children and adults for generations but now scientists believe they have come up with the recipe for creating perfect sandcastles.

IT is a question that has baffled children and adults for generations but now scientists believe they have come up with the recipe for creating perfect sandcastles.

Some of this country's top boffins have been visiting beaches all over the country to try to solve the problem.

Today they are releasing their special formula known to them as OW = 0.125 x s or one part water for eight parts of sand.

The study, for Teletext Holidays, also found that sand at some beaches were better than others when it came to making sandcastles.

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The English Riviera resort of Torquay came out on top, closely followed by Bridlington, Great Yarmouth and Bournemouth when it came to creating impressive sandcastles.

Professor Matthew Bennett, of Bournemouth University, who led the study, said: "The study found that Britain has a wealth of beaches that are extremely well suited to sandcastle building, so if people get the water-sand combination right they will have hours of fun."

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The professor was adamant that the mixture had to be spot on to guarantee success.

"The strength of a sandcastle depends on how the grains interact, so the correct mix of sediment and water is crucial to any castle that is being built.

"Too much water and the sand will liquefy. Too little and the sand won't bind," he said.

The scientists visited some popular seaside resorts to collect sand samples from high, middle and low water marks. Factors that were taken into account during the sand evaluation included a grain-size distribution analysis, load-bearing capacity of the sand, visual aesthetics, beach cleanliness and quality.

The theory is all very well so the EADT put the formula to the test at Southwold yesterdaywith help from Meg Knowles, a teacher at the resort's primary school.

Armed with a bucket and spade, and a copy of the scientists' formula, Meg discovered that a mix of roughly eight parts sand to one part water did indeed make an impressive looking sandcastle.

"I am sure that children won't want to have to measure out amounts of water and sand when they are playing on the beach," she said.

"The youngsters just want to enjoy themselves so there has to be an easier way," said Meg.

To prove her point she used damp sand left behind by the tide to make sandcastles without any measuring whatsoever.

The result _ more perfect sandcastles.

"We can all have fun making sandcastles without having to resort to any classroom formula," she declared.

The secret of creating perfect sandcastles and other sculptures in sand has been known for generations and several artists specialised in such work at a number of resorts along the East Anglian coast for a number of years.

Whether it is a simple sandcastle or a work of art all the creations have one thing in common _ they are all washed away by the next tide to create the perfect canvas for the next effort.

Sandcastle experts are in action at Great Yarmouth in July when Teletext Holidays hold a sandcastle building competition.

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