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Newbiggin beach replenishment project
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The daily update is written by Richard Martin, RNLI


Friday 31st August, 2007

Newbiggin was blessed by another warm and sunny day with calm sea conditions to further encourage the completeion of the new reef. 'Strekker' s duties were many and varied depending on the state of the tide. At low water the focus was on placing some of the last pieces of coreloc on the shore face of the north end. At high water the dutuies shifted to the completion of 'Couple's plinth and the removal of the temporary works.

Back on dry land excavation continued at Vernon Place and along from there at the final observation platform work was in hand in connnection with the block paving tie in. On the new beach stairs another two bays were concreted today with the second pour of what could be the top level. On the end shelter area the first concrete was placed in the final section of 'wavy wall'. The new revetment adjacent here was completed today and the abuting earth was shaped off.

I have recorded the growing visitor numbers to Newbiggin on previous reports and indeed this can be attributed to the extensive media attention particularly on 'Couple'. Newbiggin's fame is set to be further promoted as a result of its inclusion in the international magazine 'Hello' where a picture of 'Couple' fill a half page and this is supported by text on Newbiggin and its new icons.

moonlit couleThursday 30th August, 2007

We were blessed by another fine and bright day today at Newbiggin by the Sea which once again help all works on land and sea move forward. 'Strekker' once again spent most of her day at the north end of the reef taking advantage of the decent size low waters for the placing of coreloc. Indeed this operation continues tonight with the low water exposing the lower areas of the reef. Earlier today 'Strekker' had been assisting at 'Couple' where the tidying up jobs are well underway.

On the shore there was further excavation carried out at Vernon Place and the ground profile was been shaped to receive hardcore. Further shuttering was prepared at both the beach stairs and end shelter seating area. Also at the south end of the promenade three new lighting columns were installed today but it will be some time before they are lit.

The plant engaged on the new revetment on front of Beach Terrace continued with this construction here with surplus excavated material being taken to the north of the bay for stockpiling on the beach. This plant shifted to do some work on the sand delivery pipe during the midday low water in rediness for the pipe being taken away next week.

Wednesday 29th August, 2007

The final push to complete the reef is now underway with 'Strekker' once again working on coreloc at the shore side north end of the reef. On the shore the work in placing stone to the revetment at Beach Terrace continues at a pace with good progress being made, the high tides this week not impacting on the works. In a similar vein the new beach stairs have had two sections of concrete poured today and perhaps this area may be completed later next month. As for the viewing platforms and Vernon Place further site clearance work has been done on the latter today.

Videos of the recent TV reports from newbiggin are now available to view in the Video Gallery

sunriseTuesday 28th August, 2007

The fine weather did not materialise today and perhaps there was a feeling that the summer holidays were almost over. However the visitors were once again on the promenade and the beach though with a lesser number than of recent days. 'In the bay 'Strekker' was focused on the coreloc and severla pieces were lifted out this afternoon as part of a profiling exercise. The tide heights are rising this week with the start of the bigger autumn tides. With these bigger low waters one of the Westminster team was out in the small work boat today to take advantage of these tides by doing a bit of paint touch up on the new marker posts.

On the shore there was no work on the viewing platforms and only minor work at Vernon Place. Shuttering was prepared on the new beach stairs and the shutters are removed on the new wavy wall at the end shelter. There is some additional work in this area to protect the toe of the embankment down from the south end of Beach Terrace. An armourstone revetment is being constructed here and work on this was begun today. This included the remoal of surplus excavated materail along to the north end of the beach, the excavation of a trench for the revetment toe stones, the placement of a geotextile in the trench and the placing of some of the larger toe stones was begun today.

BBC oneMonday 27th August, 2007

Another fine and mainly sunny day today and good weather for a bank holiday. Once again hundreds filled the promenade and beach, car parks were full and many shops were open with some having queues out onto the street. In addition the regeneration success of our community was shown on the BBC nationally tonight with a beach party on the new sand and
live interviews with some of the locals. As for 'Strekker'they have continued on the reef today with rock placing and by tonight some coreloc was being placed at the south shore side of the reef.

Sunday 26th August, 2007

'Strekker' once again got on with work around the reef placing the larger stone stones today with no work on coreloc. However the focus today with such fine and sunny weather was the influx of visitors to Newbiggin by the Sea and everybody having a good time. As it is St Bartholemews Fair weekend today was the day of the pageant with pirates stealing the King's crown then the pirates being tied up by the people of the village. All in all an excellent production on the promenade and I wonder what the workers on 'Strekker' made of it.

Saturday 25th August, 2007

'Strekker' returned today after an absence of a week due to poor weather conditions and perhaps a bit of planned maintenance. The crane has been very busy placing the larger pieces of armourstone around the lower areas of the reef today and into tonight also. The barge doesn't have any power to move itself or so it seems at the first observation.

However it can move itself and this was demonstrated today when she relocated from one side of the reef to the other. This is done by the giant crane throwing out its grab ahead of the barge, grabbing the sea bed then the cranes hauls the grab in. The net result is that 'Strekker' moves about 25m per throw.

As for the shore today there was no work either at Vernon Place or the observation platforms. On the beach statirs the shuttering and reinforcement was placed ready for another concrete pour next week.

Finally the seaside experience was enjoyed by many today despite the fresh south west wind but the sun was out all day.

Friday 24th August, 2007

Today was one of those perfect summer days for a day at the seaside and despite some early mist hundreds did just that and flocked onto the beach. Even tonight, in the early evening, the warm rays of the sun covered the beach, while the promenade was in the shade of the sea front houses, many enjoyed a walk along the shoreline the end of a perfect day and the start of a Bank Holiday weekend.

With the sea easing ‘Strekker’ was predicted to return but sadly only a barge full of rock arrived to be moored out at sea. Perhaps the reef work will begin in the early hours on Saturday.

On the beach stairs concrete was placed in the last level four pour today as well as one of the level five pours. Additionally concrete was placed in the first pour for the wavy wall next to the end shelter.

At Vernon Place the site clearance continues and this full area is now fenced off.

On the viewing platforms there appears to be minor work still required and all platforms need topping off with tarmac.

Thursday 23rd August 2007

It was another fine and sunny day but the fresh north wind meant that the sea conditions were not suitable for 'Strekker' again today.

On the shore the excavation and site clearance work progressed at Vernon Place, the site of the 'small couple' on completion of this area.

Elsewhere the beach steps were having another area prepared for concrete works which will probably take place on Friday.

Newbiggin and its new iconic residents were once again promoted on a national and perhaps international stage (via the web) today thanks to the efforts of our community and the BBC. Radio 4 ran an article about the bay project and 'Couple' with interviewees giving a graphic account about the project and how it is being received.

Jason Thompson on Radio 4(From Jason) Some of our folks in the village were on Radio 4's You and Yours programme today (as Richard mentions above), and our email bag is bulging! Hear it on the BBC web site here:

Here are a couple of responses:

Hi Jason,

I'm Jay in Vermont, USA and just heard the report on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours about Newbiggin's beach! It was a great program. I lived in London for about a year - back in 1999 - and traveled around the country. But I never made it to Northumberland or Newbiggin! Next time! -

Jay Vos in Burlington, Vermont --- we have a lake to enjoy! ---


Great to hear Newbigin mentioned on radio four today and follow this up with a visit to your website. I have a number of photo snaps I'd be happy to contribute. I have attached a couple of Attlee terrace; I just found it so heartening that a community would celebrate the life of a great labour Leader in this way. Where I come from you have to be a dead poet to be recognised in this way. Other pictures I have are mostly cobles. These are the finest to be seen anywhere in the North East. They are lovingly maintained and you can see them out of the water, thereby being able to fully appreciate their exquisite beauty.

regards Jeremy

Also - see the recent BBC TV Making Waves report HERE

coupleWednesday 22nd August, 2007

Whilst it began overcast and cool the sun arrived by early afternoon accompanied by a fresh to strong north wind. This inevitably made the sea conditions get worse and therefore ‘Strekker’ continues to be tied up.

At the old boat park shuttering is being fixed for the wavy wall and most of the timber retaining walls are now in place. The wavy wall is one of two to be built and by virtue of its shape on plan the shuttering will be a bit of a challenge.

On the beach stairs shuttering from yesterday has been stripped and refixed for the next pour. Further work on the level three steps continues on the observation platform and work has begun at Vernon Place. Here initial demolition of the retaining walls, steps and footpaths has been carried out exposing red ash filling material which will probably be removed.

Tuesday 21st August, 2007

Continued onshore wind has led to another day of unsatisfactory sea conditions which have yet again kept ‘Strekker’ in port at Blyth.

‘Couple’ have continued to capture the curiosity of the visitor and the media for another day with the hope their pose can be viewed in some fine weather in the next few days.

Initial works began on a start at Vernon Place today with saftey fencing and footpath closures put in place.

On the large viewing platform the level three kerbs were being placed whilst on the beach stairs the final level four concrete pour was done today along with one of the level five pours.

jason interviewMonday 20th August

I would never have believed that on a Monday morning I would see our village full of visitors but that was the case today with the Church Point car park full by mid morning and a constant flow of people walking along the promenade. It goes without saying what they are here to see - 'Couple' of course. Indeed one group of visitors who had been down at the weekend from Wearside had decided to visit again for another day out at Newbiggin.

The bay project was also the focus for both national and local television today, local radio and newspapers with a friend from Birmingham telling me tonight that the new icons featured in a lengthy report in their local paper - where will the information flow boundaries end??

As for the reef works the swell again prevented the return of 'Strekker' and the shoreworks to the beach stairs and viewing platforms continued but no start yet at Vernon Place.

Sunday 19th August

With 'Strekker' off to Blyth the bay was empty today with no vessels venturing out and a fresh northerly making it feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless it was 'One day for Newbiggin' today, a day for many to get out the camera and capture all that is good for our community. The weather did not stop this initiative and at the end of the day all aspects of Newbiggin life were recorded including the happenings in the bay.

Once again the star of the show was 'Couple' with hundreds making the pilgramage to see it on a bleak North Sea. Indeed speaking to visitors today some had travelled from the other side of the country including St. Albans, London and Stoke. They had read about the new icons or seen it elsewhere on the media and decided to make a trip to Newbiggin as part of a short holiday. This expanding visitor market for Newbiggin endorses the Bay developments but also gives confidence in the success of a much broader Newbiggin renaissance in years to come.

We were fortunate in getting an interview with Sean Henry - the creator of our fantastic new sculpture "Couple". You can watch this interview on our Video Gallery page.


coupleSaturday 18th August, 2007

'Couple' again was the focus of attention today with hundreds making their way onto Church Point and the promenade to see the new icons. Even a wedding at St. Bartholemews church today had to have some of their wedding pictures taken with couple behind - new couple meets new couple perhaps!! Despite showers and later rain the interest until dusk continued and no doubt it will be busy here on Sunday. With freshening onshore wind and a swell running 'Strekker' left the bay tonight so that the new residents can enjoy their first night together looking out to sea with no bright lights off the giant barge crane spoiling their view.

Friday 17th August, 2007

Whilst the work continued on the shore today at the various location all of these activities were overshadowed by the arrival of 'Couple' which would arrive later in the day. The first sign of action was shortly after 0800 hours with the installation of the table top to the legs. The table top will support the new icons high above the crashing waves. This huge piece of steel was lifted in by mid morning and everyone then knew that our 'new residents' would be next. By late morning 'Ailsa' had returned to Blyth and the two figures were uncovered and lifted onto the vessel for their final journey. Over the next few hours into the afternoon expectations were high of an arrival early in the afternoon. Crowds were gathering on the beach and promenade with Church Point car park overflowing. Mobile media stations from the BBC and ITV were in the village to capture the goings on and by 1600 hours 'Ailsa' with her valuable cargo had set off from Blyth.

Just before teatime the vessel arrived in the bay with the crowd numbers increasing. The ice cream van at Church Point was doing brisk trade and at the local heritage centre almost 1000 visitors came through the doors - a record for any single day there. It became clear that the table top needed more work before the icons could be fixed and this progresed into the darkness. I was fortunate to be alongside the action in a boat for the night and I note the kindness of the 'Ailsa' crew who provided our boat with some refreshments late evening. The lady of 'Couple' was placed first just before 2200 hours and after
almost an hour her partner joined her. This was a truly memorable night and we had been blessed with fine weather so that the many gatherings along seafront had a night to remember.

Couple being erected

It would appear that the job is done, and that when the sun rises tomorrow morning our "Couple" will be in place to greet the dawn for the very first time. The lights are no longer illuminating "Couple" and activity seems to have died right down.

A good crowd gathered to watch the installationfrom shoreside, and typically for these events in Newbiggin, there was a great atmosphere amongst those who wanted to be there to witness this historic event.

Delayed for various reasons today, the job of fixing the sculptures in place is now well underway.Work is progressing well, but will continue into the night. Both figures are now on the platform, yet there still seems to be work to be done.

News has reached us that "Couple" are to be erected between 2pm and 3.30pm today. Although unconfirmed, this seems likely to be the truth.

You can follow the action on our webcams, or it may be time for an extra trip down to the sea front to watch what happens live. It will be great to see the sculpture finally in place after what feels like a very long wait indeed.

Thursday 16th August, 2007

"Couple" at BlythWith the sculpture "Couple" stranded at Blyth because the sea vessel needed to place it in position is faulty, Rebecca McCreedy went down to Blyth to take some shots of the work as it waits to be transferred to its final resting place. They look a little strange, lying on their backs gazing at the sky, but this is our first real look at the artwork before it is erected in the bay itself.

We still have no definite word as to when "Couple" will be finally placed on its platform. Westminster dredging state that the repairs to their vessel "Strekker" will take "an undefined period of time". When there is a change in this situation, we will post an update here as soon as we can.

If you'd like to see more shots from this visit, please click through to our Galleries page.

Wednesday 15th August, 2007

Strekker PoorlyAs I reported on Tuesday today was to be a special day for the project with the arrival of 'Couple' and the begining of the installation process of the same. The new icons had left Liverpool at first light today for a road journey to their new home and perhaps a trip out to sea today. The large articulated wagon made good progress and at about 0915 hours the precious cargo arrived at Blyth harbour for unloading and storage. A number of keen photographers and curious members of the public had captured a close up view of the pair who were lying head to head on the wagon. Their journey north had been cushioned using a number of bed mattresses and by the time they arrived the rain had cleared with the sun shining. Unfortunately the icons were going to have to spend a few days on the harbour quayside as 'Strekker' had problems.

Earlier today these technical problems were reported on the Newbiggin Reborn website and a statement there said "Strekker" has now returned to dock for the completion of the repair with a return date not as yet known'. Tonight the bay is empty and only the various navigation lights flash. Out at sea two barges loaded with coreloc await the return off the giant crane to commence again its many duties. On the quayside tonight the iconic pair are laid together for their first night outside, gazing to the stars, wondering when they will be stood up to look out to sea - their first night does have some comforts as some kind worker has covered them over with a large plastic sheet to keep them warm and dry.

Tuesday 14th August, 2007

Sean HenryDespite a poor forecast the heavy rain held off until this evening when the shore works were completed for the day. The sand cleaning exercise continued at the north end of the bay today with quite a lot of work yet to be done. On the viewing platform the precast step units for levels one and two appear to be complete with only minor placing and jointing to do. On the new beach stairs the concrete pump arrived at 0730 hours at Windsor Terrace to pump the concrete to one stair section pour on level three and one on level four. Thankfully the concrete was covered over with plastic tonight to
stop any rain damage occuring.

At sea 'Strekker' has again continued to place coreloc on the shore side of the reef. Tonight however onshore winds have brought on a swell and the huge barge is sheltering on the shore side of the reef whilst 'Ailsa' and tow dumb barges loaded with coreloc are moored out at sea.

With 'Couple' potentially only hours away from arriving in the region the table top on which they stand is not yet fixed. As the tide is now flowing with high water at 0532 local Wednesday it will be interesting to see if the table top is fixed by the coming sunrise.

Monday 13th August, 2007

Bay RainbowA fine and sunny day before a poor forecast for the next few days which may stop work in the bay.

A new activity on the beach today was the arrival of the sift and shake machine adjacent the Heritage Centre at the north end of the bay. Basically the machine is loaded with sand by a mechanical loading shovel at one end. The sand then passes over a series of conveyors, shaking and rolling drums with the larger foriegn material dropping onto the ground at the north end of the machine. The screened sand then spills back onto the beach for placing by the machine. Hopefully the deployment of this machine will ensure that all debris is removed from the sand.

Along to the viewing platform the level two precast concrete kerbs are well advanced with the more involved cutting left to do. On the new beach steps progress continues with the level three and four shuttering ready for more concrete.
Out at sea the table top for 'Couple' is still awaited and perhaps the weather will delay the placing of the new bay icons. 'Strekker' has taken the opportunity to continue placing coreloc along the shore side of the reef.

Sunday 12th August, 2007

As with most Sundays the activities were confined to the reef and ‘Strekker’ was again placing coreloc along the centre shore side of the reef. Once again there were many visitors along the promenade today despite some early showers in the afternoon their curiosity fuelled with the question – when is ‘couple’ arriving?

The forecasters promise us unsettled weather by midweek so this may restrict when this work is to be done. Watch this space for more details and remember before the new arrivals are placed the table top needs to be fixed – perhaps during the early hours on Monday – who knows?

Saturday 11th August, 2007

With fine weather again today progress continued to be made even though for the Saturday it is a half shift for the shoreworks.

The former boatpark (end shelter) area now has most of the groyne features in place and about 30% of the timber retaining wall is now fixed giving a wavy line pattern.

On the beach steps there remains one pour to do on the level two steps and both levels three and four and over half complete. It is worth noting that the higher levels of steps by virtue of a reducing circumference need less concrete so if anything the progress on these stairs should speed up.

On the last viewing platform the level one kerbs are almost complete and with fill placed behind, the level two precast step units can now be placed. No further progress has been made on the previous platforms and it would appear that the final top surfacing to all viewing platforms will be done simultaneously.

At Vernon Place the works are yet to be started.

At sea ‘Strekker’ was busy earlier today at the south marker pole with a welder cutting away at the steel pole at the time of low water. The exact reason for this was not clear for the shore observer. The head and shoulders team were also in the water today as coreloc was placed on the shoreside of the reef.

couple painted

"Here are a few snaps of the sculpture, which I finally finished painting this week. They are drying out now in Liverpool and should be ready to ship to Newbiggin quite soon. I should add that while they obviously look quite massive indoors, it will be interesting to see how they change when outside, surrounded by sea and sky, and of course installed on the
pier/platform." Sean Henry, 3rd August 2007

4th August 2007

Saturday is a half shift for the shore works and today some progress was made. On the new beach stairs the shuttering for yesterday's concreting operations was partially stripped whilst the new step units at the final observation platform were placed.

Out a sea 'Strekker' spent some time placing coreloc at the south end of the reef. In addition the upper section of the north marker post was also finally placed in position.

Friday 3rd August, 2007

Another warm but mainly cloudy day gave good conditions to progress the works. The concrete pump was at Windsor Terrace today to pump concrete to the new steps on level two and level three. The level two steps are almost 80% complete whilst the level three steps are about 30% complete. Work has also started on fixing the shutters for the level four steps. At the boatyard there was a brief works visit during the morning and the step units continue to be placed at the new viewing platform - these level one steps being about 60% complete.

Last night I commented that 'Strekker' was pile driving the south end marker post and at that time there seemed to be delays due to vertical alignment problems. Well today this post is in place and early afternoon the lower section of the north post was hammered into the sea bed. Late afternoon today the upper section of the south post was lifted after a bit of alteration with a gas torch. Tonight Newbiggin has a new red flashing warning light at the south end of the new reef.

On board 'Ailsa' lies the north post ready for fixing and the light its red light is flashing away as it awaits fixing. This will probably take place on Saturday afternoon.

moonWednesday 1st August, 2007

The cloud was back today and light rain / showers saved themselves to the end of the day - perfect conditions for the works in the bay.

Whilst there was some filling work being done earlier today at the old boatyard the main activity for work continued to be at the new beach stairs. Here work continued with the level three stair shuttering with work in getting the reinforcing steel (which gives the concrete shear strength) in place. At the new observation platform the placing of the new precast concrete step units has begun. Due to their weight the units are lifted into place with a wheeled excavator and final adjustments being done by the skilled paviors.

Out at sea 'Strekker' was at the north end of the reef following a return earlier today. The thrust of the work appeared to be on the rock core with placing and trimming going on. At the latter part of the day a wholly new activity was done in the darkness that of pile driving. At the north end of the reef a tubular pile was inserted into the sea bed and driven by a piling hammer supspended off the giant crane. The drive was carried out so far then the work halted for the time being due to the perpendicular problems which seem to have arisen.


See archived updates for: August 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | Current Update


Updates provided by Richard Martin RNLI

Further information about the project is available from the official web site at

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