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Demolition of landmark clifftop home gets underway after ‘critical’ coastal erosion

PUBLISHED: 11:30 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:04 22 January 2020

The home, known as the Easternmost House, is currently being demolished. Picture: JULIET BLAXLAND

The home, known as the Easternmost House, is currently being demolished. Picture: JULIET BLAXLAND

JULIET BLAXLAND

Demolition of home begins after fears it could be lost to the sea due to rapid coastal erosion which forced a Suffolk couple to flee their home just days before Christmas.

Juliet Blaxland was forced to move out fo her home at Easton Bavents near Southwold, to allow for it to be demolished after several metres of erosion in recent months. Picture: Neil DidsburyJuliet Blaxland was forced to move out fo her home at Easton Bavents near Southwold, to allow for it to be demolished after several metres of erosion in recent months. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Juliet Blaxland moved to the clifftop home in Easton Bavents, near Southwold - which was once the easternmost house in Britain - more than 12 years ago with her husband Giles.

But now they have been forced to move a mile down the road after the devastating coastal erosion left them "living on the edge".

Their home was deemed unsafe in December 2019, with experts warning that the situation had become "critical" and people living in clifftop properties were "at risk".

The home, known as the Easternmost House, is currently being demolished. Picture: JULIET BLAXLANDThe home, known as the Easternmost House, is currently being demolished. Picture: JULIET BLAXLAND

Work on stripping the property began this week, with sections of the house already pulled down.

Juliet Blaxland says the demolition process is understood to "be going quite slowly".

She explained: "They are taking it down brick by brick, to clean and save as much as possible to sell as architectural salvage for reuse, bricks, pantiles, bead-and-butt doors, fireplaces, ironmongery, etc."

Erosion of the cliffs at Southwold has increased dramatically over the last year. Picture: JULIET BLAXLANDErosion of the cliffs at Southwold has increased dramatically over the last year. Picture: JULIET BLAXLAND

"The demolition is incredibly sad," added the 55-year-old. "It's an end of an era for the old house which has almost become a landmark in the town because of all the memories people have of it."

More: 'Little time left' - house at risk of being swept away by sea to be demolished

Juliet received the demolition notice on Friday, December 6, and quickly moved a mile up the coast to Covehithe in Benacre Estate - where her new farm home could also be lost to the sea in 15 years time.

The home in Easton Bavents in 2017 was much further away from the cliff-edge. Picture: JULIET BLAXLANDThe home in Easton Bavents in 2017 was much further away from the cliff-edge. Picture: JULIET BLAXLAND

According to the writer and architect, a coastal engineer recorded that the cliff at Easton Bavents has been eroding 3m on average each year since the end of the war.

When Juliet started to observe it more closely in 2015, she says it increased to a 5m average every year.

As recently as September, She thought she would have another five years at her home - but storms and poor weather meant the coastal erosion increased.

Trees have fallen on to the beach at Easton Bavents near Southwold as the coastline continues to erode at a rapid rate. Picture: Neil DidsburyTrees have fallen on to the beach at Easton Bavents near Southwold as the coastline continues to erode at a rapid rate. Picture: Neil Didsbury

"We knew all along that it would eventually be demolished, but normally you get a couple of months notice or something," said the 55-year-old, who has written a book called The Easternmost House, which tells the tale of living with the constant risk of coastal erosion.

"It's caught us all by surprise, as we could have reasonably expected to have another year here. But ever since we moved in we were always aware of how little time we had left."

In December, the coast saw accelerated erosion with "a loss of 3.5m in one night", according to Coastal Partnership East, who are responsible for the area.

Time to go. Juliet Blaxland's home at Easton Bavents near Southwold is now being demolished after several metres of erosion in recent months. Picture: Neil DidsburyTime to go. Juliet Blaxland's home at Easton Bavents near Southwold is now being demolished after several metres of erosion in recent months. Picture: Neil Didsbury

At the time of the impending demolition, a Coastal Partnership East spokesman, said: "Since the 2018 Beast from the East storms we have seen significant lowering of beaches across Norfolk and Suffolk coasts.

"There has been an ongoing erosion issue at Easton Bavents which is a naturally eroding coastal area with no hard defences."

They say that November weather events and "high astronomical tides" caused unexpected and rapid erosion at the site.

"People's health and safety are paramount," continued the spokesman.

"The last three terraced properties remaining in the clifftop zone are now less than 10m from the edge and we are working closely with the property owner to provide up to date information for them and their tenants."

Juliet has written a book called The Easternmost House, where she describes what it is like "to live life on the edge".


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