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Newbiggin beach replenishment project
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Saturday 30th June, 2007

I would like to say it had been another fine and sunny day but as the day closes the rain is pouring down and there is no work in the bay. 'Strekker' and 'Ailsa' are both moored but the sea is choppy and there is no stone to place tonight. Indeed the activity during the afternoon was essential maintenance on 'Strekker'. Anyway earlier in the day the focus was once again the soth roundhead and the profile is becoming more noticeable.

As for the shoreworks preparatory work continued at the Middle Shelter with further progress on the new viewing platform steps.

Friday 29th June, 2007

Despite poor conditions last night 'Strekker' has remained in the bay on the shore side of the new reef (for shelter) and pushed on with placing rock at the south end of the reef. Work continues tonight in relatively calm conditions and under a full moon. No coreloc has been placed today.

At the Middle Shelter the upper promenade steps next to Windsor Terrace have been concreted today with the possibility these steps will be open soon.

Work has also continued at this location on the beach steps with preparation in hand for the next section of blinding concrete.
The viewing platform work has also progressed with further precast step units placed today.

strekker and north stackThursday 28th June, 2007

Once agin there was no work in the bay at first light, but the sea is moderating. However on the shore work progresses at the Middle Shelter steps with the blinding concrete (concrete between the natural clay and
the new foundation) going in on the east side of the steps.

Work is also going well on the new raised platforms east of Bridge Street with a drainage gulley being installed and the first of the new precast concrete step units being bedded into place.

During the morning 'Ailsa' made a visit to the bay to check on conditions and by early afternoon 'Strekker' was back and placing stone - there being no core loc units brought over today - only rock.

As darkness fell with rain falling and wind freshening, the white caps began to appear out at sea today. 'Strekker's placing operation has quickened up so perhaps she may have to dash back to Blyth tonight after such a short visit.

platform foundationsWednesday 27th June, 2007

The sea was still lumpy today so no sign of 'Strekker' or even support vessels to see if work could begin again. The forecast promises more onshore wind early next week so there could be further delays.

On the shoreworks the two observation platforms east of Bridge Street have their foundation slabs in, reinforcement starter bars and drainage channels.

Further along at the middle shelter the new steps are having foundations established also.


steps constructionTuesday 26th June, 2007

You could be excused for thinking winter was back today when you look over the bay and out to sea. No it is not cold but the sea is rolling with many white crests and the breakers are battering the new reef and in particular the marker buoy at the south end. As you can imagine the chance of any work on the reef in the next few days is unlikely. It is interesting to observe the wave profiles that now exist and where the focus of wave energy is with these rough sea conditions.

Onshore the work to form the new beach stairs at the middle shelter goes on. The focus has been on providing a new base for the stairs and the heart of the stairway is being profiled with imported stone. Work is also continuing on the new viewing platform following the removal last week of the southern temporary platform.

With a sunny weather window tonight the beach hosted a number of walkers who can enjoy the sun whilst the adjacent promenade is in the shade - another advantage of the new beach at the south end of the bay!!

Monday 25th June, 2007

At first light today 'Strekker' left the bay for the shelter of Blyth as the weather began to further deteriorate. Surveyors were busy on the reef until 0645 hours to establish the profile then they were taken on board 'Ailsa' who left the bay spray flying as she crashed through the many waves. Tonight the reef is being tested by some breakers with rough sea conditions beyond the headland.

Heavy rain and conditions akin to those of a winter day have prevented further enqiries to ascertain the extent of the shoreworks today.

Needless to say the poor weather blighting the village will not have helped the progress. The only people out tonight were two body surfers out in the breakers at the south end of the bay.

watchers of the breakwaterSunday 24th June, 2007

Newbiggin had another fine and sunny Sunday eventually and once again the promenade was busy with 'Bay Watchers' out in force, spotting the activities out at sea and casting an expert eye over proceedings.

All the activity today was on the reef with 'Strekker' taking advantage of the good weather and pushing on with coreloc at the north end. As darkenss fell tonight there was still coreloc to be placed but this precision activity appears confined to daylight hours.

The forecasters predict more rain tonight and a freshening northerly wind so perhaps by dawn on Monday the operation will have to be put on hold until the sea eases off.



Saturday 23rd June, 2007

Another day of Core-Loc placement on the seaward side of the breakwater. Each piece has to be carefully maneuvered into place, and adjusted by ground crew before being lowered home, so it will take some time to complete this job.

At the North end, it is starting to become clear how high the breakwater will eventually be, and the construction of the Core Loc, with it's jagged profile, is designed to take all of the sea's wave energy away before the waves get to the new beach.

Tests have shown that this breakwater will protect the beach and promenade even in the worst Winter high tides.

The picture on the right shows the foundations that have been dug so far for the raised viewing platforms between Bertorellis and Vernon Place.


core locFriday 22nd June, 2007

The day saw the removal from the beach of the sinkerline pipe sections, which were loaded three at a time onto the back of large lorries, and taken by road through the village and out of Newbiggin.

Most of the heavy plant machinery left the site today also - with the shaping of the beach mostly completed, the bulldozers that have worked so hard have done their job, and can leave for the next one.

Preparations continued for the concreting at the Horseshoe Steps, with the rock core being covered with finer material, ready for the construction of the moulds, and the pouring of the concrete over the next week or so.

Foundations have been dug along the prom between Bertorellis and Vernon Place ready for the construction of the permanent viewing platforms that will allow visitors to the promenade to see over the high concrete walls at the North end of the bay.

Meanwhile in the bay, the Strekker continued to carefully position Core Loc on the seaward side of the breakwater, at the North End. The Core Loc placement is concentrating on this end of the breakwater so that work can continue on the platform that will soon be the home to Sean Henry's Couple artwork.

core locThursday 21st June, 2007

A fine and sunny day at Newbiggin meant work on the bay project made good progress today. During the morning ‘Strekker’ returned and began work on the placement of core loc units at the north end of the reef. The precast concrete units are the topping to the reef and unlike the armourstone need precise manoevering for placement on the reef.

Elsewhere the temporary viewing platform adjacent Victoria Terrace was dismantled and the work to clear the remaining sand importation plant and equipment was almost completed.

At the new middle shelter beach steps preparations for the new foundations continued.

The main news for the day however, concerned the return of the Hunkleton Stone. With the giant machines needed to move it being removed on Friday, today was the last day to return this icon home. At about 1600 hours the giant stone was lifted in slings and carried along the shoreline south to its home.

hunkleton 1The Hunkleton Stone has been a feature of Newbiggin’s rich heritage over hundreds of years, remembered by many people as a place to meet, sit on or even dive into the sea from. How it got there is subject to many and varied opinions including being deposited by a glacier during the ice age to a boulder emanating from Newbiggin Colliery and founded down to the coal seams. However one thing is sure - over the last 20 years the boulder has increasingly shunned the attention of the visitor as its home sunk deeper into the bay. Indeed it would only be the very lowest of tides that it appeared from the sea, sometimes covered in seaweed and shells.

Thanks to support from Wansbeck District Council, Newbiggin Community Area Partnership, Atkins Consultants, Newbiggin LIFE and most importantly Westminster Dredging the stone was lifted last month for storage during sand importation works. With the last sand placed it was time to bring the icon home to her exact location and orientation.

Today the dedication and support of the Bay Team meant the Hunkleton Stone was returned to its home. At a time of year when ancient stones are the focus of attention during the current Summer Solstice, it is fitting for our stone icon to return on this day.

hunkleton team
Huge thanks to the team of dedicated contractors who took great care to skilfully return the stone

The Hunkleton Stone is very much a feature of Newbiggin by the Sea’s rich seaside heritage which is being championed by The Newbiggin by the Sea Heritage Partnership - with the eventual goal of a new Visitor Centre for the community. The Hunkleton Stone has been an icon of a day out at Newbiggin’s seaside and its future is now guaranteed - when it will be joined with another icon  ‘Couple’ later in the summer.

richard and the stone The Return of the Rock
21st June - on the Summer Solstice, the Hunkleton Stone is respectfully placed back where it came from - positioned precisely by GPS. Photos by Jason Thompson
hunkleton The Hunkleton is back!
As seen by Derek and Margaret Hobbs - the Hunkleton Stone replacement, plus the first Core Loc placements, and the drainage of the Horseshoe Steps foundation 21st June.


bayWednesday 20th June, 2007

Newbiggin was awoken by thunder and lightening this morning, coupled with very heavy rain and a fresh onshore wind. 'Strekker' had left either to avoid the lightening or the likely lumpy sea conditions. Anyway despite things calming down 'Strekker' remains in Blyth tonight and no progress has been made on the reef today.

Just like previous days the dismantling of the sand pipes goes on as does the work on the new beach steps. Additionally today armourstone temporarily stored at the north end of the bay has now been brought back along the beach and placed on the new sand down from Beachville - its destiny yet unknown.

Tuesday 19th June, 2007

The work continued at a steady pace today with the start of the sand delivery pipes being taken by road to Tyne Harbour for a sea passage across the water. Indeed work was focused at the north end of the bay in this clearing away operation. The beach end of the sand delivery pipe has now got a marker post fitted to it today.

There has been no progress on the new elevated walkways but foundation work for the new stairway at the middle shelter continues. Out in the bay 'Strekker' continues placing stone and as the day comes to a close tonight she is stationary waiting for another barge full of stone.

bare feetMonday 18th June, 2007

The works continued at a pace today and the temporary compound for the sand importation works was cleared off and the various machines were made ready for departure. Offshore 'Strekker' was able to put another full 24 hours onto the reef with the weather remaining kind. At the end of the day today she was back at the south end of the reef attended by 'Ailsa' placing more stones. In addition survey work of the sea bed profile has been ongoing tonight.

At the 'Horseshoe Steps' further work continued on preparing the new stairway foundation whilst swash blocks adjacent Windsor Terrace were placed to fill the void of the removed stairway. The warm sunshine brought many people onto the beach tonight with people going for a plodge or walking barefoot on the new sand. For the
more energetic my son and his friends can lay claim to the first cricket match being played out on the sand - not to international standards but a start - and ideal terrain for diving for the catches!!

"Our daughter and her husband have a house on Beach Terrace and my husband and I have made several trips up to see the work being carried out. We think it is wonderful, what a transformation. The workmen have time to talk and tell you what is happening - a total stranger told us about the Hunkle Stone and when we said we were going home that day he went home got his keys and told us to meet him at the Heritage Centre - it was most interesting and we look forward to meeting our friend again." Pearl Mallett

Sunday 17th June, 2007

visitorsWork began on the beach just after 0800 hours with the focus of the operations to dismantle and clear the sand delivery pipework. As the tide went out this pipework was brought along the beach for temporary storage adjacent Sandridge.

With the sun out and very warm conditions the promenade was very busy today with hundreds of visitors down for a stroll and see what is going on. This influx of people continued into the early evening and I am sure they were not disappointed.

'Strekker' arrived back late afternoon to continue with the work on the reef. She had been away from the bay since late last week due to rough sa conditions and now had work to do to place more stone as well as deal with stone displaced by the bad weather. By darkness tonight she was working at the north end of the
reef to take advantage of the ebbing tide. 'Ailsa' was alongside bringing a supply of rock on the barges.


photographersSaturday 16th June, 2007

A milestone in the project was reached today when the last load of sand was delivered. Shortly after sunrise 'Oranje' arrived but she was obscured by the fog. The last sand delivery was watched by a number of people on the promenade and on completion 'Oranje' gave six blasts on her horn to signal her work was done.

The rest of the day was spent grading the sand and removing the sand delivery pipes - all traces of these temporary works will soon be gone.

Elsewhere excavation for the new beach stairs continued and I begin to wonder when the digging will stop!!



sunriseFriday 15th June, 2007

Poor sea conditions welcomed the 'Oranje' at 0230 hours today and this delayed the unloading of sand. Indeed 'Ailsa' was alongside to assist with the couple up operation.

By 0415 hours the sand was flowing and a couple of us spectators out at that time were fortunate to capture the operation against a beautiful sunrise - see gallery.

By 0630 the 'Oranje' was off for her final load of sand for the bay, probably aware that sea conditions for her retrun would not be ideal.

On the shore work was hampered by heavy rain from 1000 hours so the exact detail is not ascertained here.



Horseshoe steps foundationsThursday 14th June, 2007

The weather has not been kind to anyone having to work outside in Northern England and Newbiggin by the Sea certainly had weather akin to an autumn day. Nevertheless at 0200hours today 'Oranje' arrived to deliver one of last loads of sand. The giant machines were also in action on the beach but instead of their usual roaring their engines were a mere wisper so as not to disturb our sleep - many thanks for this consideration, it was appreciated.

Anyway 'Strekker' remains confined in Blyth Harbour as the easterly has freshened bringing on moderate sea conditions in the bay. Indeed tonight the waves were breaking over the new structure sending sea spray flying and Couple, had they been there would have tasted the salt from the Bay.

As for the shore, work has continued on the new steps at the middle shelter with the excavation for this growing.

Wednesday 13th June, 2007

It was an overcast and wet dawn for the arrival of 'Oranje' today and at 0415 hours she was in the bay with her cargo discharged by 0630 hours. Sadly this will be probably one of the last loads to arrive in the daylight.

'Strekker' had moved along the reef to continue with stone placing but later in the day she left Newbiggin to go to Blyth.

On the beach the new beach stairs at the middle shelter had excavation works carried out, a hole in the sand that looked as though a meteor had landed.

Further along the promenade at Covent Garden excavation began for the new viewing platform.

One point of observation was that two persons ventured onto the new sand tonight to go fishing and whilst this is a first, the hazards of very soft newly placed sand certainly need respecting. If you are visiting the beach, please keep off the sand as it could be very dangerous, until the all clear has been given by the contractors.

workTuesday 12th June, 2007

The weather to begin the day was overcast and dull but at least it wasn't raining for today's visit of 'Oranje' who was discharging sand at 0715 hours. The sand placing is now to Windsor First School with work done today to prepare for the next visit at first light Wednesday.

At sea also 'Strekker' was continuing work on the reef with the focus at the south end. With the rock barges away for the latter part of the evening the work fell silent.

Elsewhere the shuttering was removed from the newly cast steps at the middle shelter and further north at Covent Garden the back of the sea defence wall was fenced off ready for operations to begin on the new raised observation platform.

oranjeMonday 11th June, 2007

As another fine and sunny dawn broke over Newbiggin work was underway to get ready for the last week of sand deliveries. 'Oranje' arrived just before 9.00am and once again sand was pumped ashore to extend the reclaimed area south to Windsor First School. Once the dredger was away the trimming and leveling of the sand continued under a viel of mist and fog. Potentially there could be perhaps only two more deliveries in the daylight.

Following heavy rain tonight the fog has cleared and 'Strekker' is once again visible working on the south end of the new reef.

As for shoreworks details have not been ascertained but out of the window progress to prepare for more concrete at the 'horseshoe steps' seems to have been made.

Sunday 10th June 2007

'Strekker' continued to work through the night on the reef and by the end of the day the focus was on the south end.

As for the sand importing 'Oranje' arrived at about 10.00 hours and began offloading to a good crowd of people on what could be her last weekend visit to Newbiggin. The sand was placed in front of Windsor Gardens and by noon 'Oranje' was heading off again for another load.

There was also some work today in removing the anchors and chains buried on the beach down from the lifeboat slipway and this was completed mid afternoon.

Just like last weekend the lifeboat was called out today to attend to a Bay related matter, this time a mooring buoy mistaken as an upturned boat. As always all calls responded to and this one was with good intent.

"I was brought up in Newbiggin but now live in Bedlington. After two failed visits to see the offload of sand with my children aged 5 & 3 once due to late arrival of the Ojange & secondly due to the beak in the pipe, we eventually managed to see the sand arrive yesterday (Saturday 9th). Unfortunately the kids are now hooked & spent about 40 minutes this morning constantly refreshing the webcams to watch the arrival of the Ojange into the bay & the flow of firstly the water & secondly the sand.

Another engagement meant they had to come off the computer otherwise I fear they may have been there all day. Can you pass on my thanks to all the people who are supplying pictures via webcam especially Derek & Margaret Hobbs." Lynne Tiesdell

promSaturday 9th June, 2007

Despite a misty overcast start the sun got out just in time for the arrival of 'Oranje' at 11.00 hours. Sand was pumped ashore in the vicinity of Windsor Terrace and Windsor Gardens with the promenade well populated to see the sea. By 13.15 hours 'Oranje' dropped the pipe end and headed south for another load. The heavy plant spent the afternoon working on this vast sandscape ready for another load on Sunday.

At the 'Horseshoe' steps the first deleivery of concrete arrived today and it was transported from the concrete wagon parked at the pant via a number of dumper visits.

'Strekker' continued to work throughout the day and as the mist moved in tonight she had moved from her land side position to the sea side position of the reef to place stone.

Friday 8th June, 2007

With 'Oranje' delayed earlier in the week and her need to go for fuel her new arrival time today was early afternoon. Her arrival coincided with the first sunshine since last weekend and the sand was soon flowing. The emphasis on sand delivery has been towards the south end of the bay and when she left later in the afternoon, the giant dozers began to move the sand about to establish the agreed levels. One thing of note that since the sand has been arriving there is an abundance of shells appearing on the beach at the north end of the bay. Shells which are not native to our part of the world - or at least are not always on the beach. 'Strekker' pushed on with placing stone in the central area of the reef and by 20.00 hours tonight she was lost from view in the fog.

Elsewhere work has progressed at the 'horseshoe steps' whilst work to reinstate the existing armourstone down from Beach Terrace has been ongoing.

Thursday 7th June, 2007

You will recall that as the day ended on Wednesday, 'Oranje' was still standing by waiting to unload her cargo of sand due to a failure in the offshore end of the sand delivery pipe. 'Ailsa' and her crew had been working on the pipe repairs and this continued until 0300 hours (almost 10 hours since the failure) when sand pumping began. By 0600 hours the discharge was complete but perhaps less evident than previous discharges on the shore. The dredger left with great haste to head south for another cargo aware that it may be in the early hours of Friday when she visited again.

'Strekker' was once again receiving stone to continue with the reef work, and a rock barge damaged last Sunday was grounded on the new beach for repairs. 'Ailsa' managed to tow her back to deeper water at about 18.15 hours tonight.

Onshore the breaking out of the stairs at the middle shelter are complete and shuttering for the concreting operation is now been fixed in place.

sinkerline burstWednesday 6th June, 2007

With anticipation of a further spectacle on the beach the crowds began to gather at about 1600 hours as 'Oranje' approached the bay. The giant dozers had spent the day shaping the sand and getting the sand delivery pipes ready for tonight. Just after 17:15 the sand pipe sprung into action but shortly afterwards there was a splutter, and everything stopped.

Everyone was wondering why the stoppage, and with no information or action the disappointed crowds began to disperse. The machines being parked up proved there was to be no action tonigt. 'Oranje' lay off Newbiggin low in the water her cargo still on board. During the evening 'Ailsa' arrived and work began on the seaward end of the sand delivery pipe which was seen to be leaking just before everything stopped.

As the day ends the crew on 'Ailsa' are working in lumpy sea conditions the giant pipe on their deck but when the sand will flow again who knows. As a result of this 'Strekker' also lies idle tonight as there is no vessel to bring stone to her so let us hope things are sorted for Thursday.

Tuesday 5th June, 2007

Once again the star of the show was 'Oranje' when she arrived in the bay at 1830 hours tonight to deliver her valuable cargo of sand. The spectators exceeded a hundred with cars prevelent in the Beach Terrace area - traffic chaos!! The spectators were not disappointed with tonights show and looked on amazed by the growing beach and the various manoeuvres by the giant machines. Throughout this 'Strekker' went on with her work in constructing the reef which whilst appearing mundane is the other vital part to this major project. At the 'Horseshoe Steps' work in breaking out swash blocks and concrete was completed.

sand sprayMonday 4th June, 2007

With the onshore wind eased and the sea conditions subsided there was a dash just after dawn for 'Strekker' to get things moving on the reef construction. A constant supply of stone deliveries followed with work continuing at a pace as this day comes to an end.

Onshore preparation work continued at the former boat yard area with the thrust of activity at the 'horseshoe steps'. Here the demolition of the former middle shelter access stairs continued with a new direct descent for the stairway, as it used to be.

Once again the main attraction was 'Oranjie' as she arrived from the mist at 2030 hours tonight. Despite the damp and cold conditions there were almost a hundred spectators eagerly watching as her cargo of Skegness sand was pumped onto the beach. The fleet of massive machines were kept busy with the pipe extension operation providing a spectacle for the enthusiasts as the water / sand mix sprayed everywhere momentarily. As the dredger left at 2215 the new beach was now extended in line with the former middle shelter.

Sunday 3 June 2007

Wild winds and choppy seas made life difficult in the bay for those working on the Strekker and Ailsa. The beach seems to have grown more than ever, and viewed from the Bank House steps, the new beach seems vast, stretching half way out to the breakwater.

Load 12 was pumped ashore at midnight.

beach sculpting - photo by Margaret HobbsSaturday 2 June 2007

A slightly clearer day. Load eleven arrived arrived in the very early morning - we think between 2-4am. The floodlights and remaining mist made the scene look like something from a Steven Spielberg science-fiction film (photographed, right, by Margaret Hobbs) as the diggers and bulldozers sculpted the fresh delivery of sand, bringing the beach up to the Horseshow Steps at the end of Windsor Terrace.

Another webcam - number 4 - was added yesterday - situated in Windsor Terrace, and another will be added at the beginning of next week, to give close up views of the landscaping and beachworks for the rest of the project.

Talking to people in the village, there is a real sense of excitement as we can see real progress being made, and can imagine what the bay will soon look like with all new sand. One of the aspects of the project that people seem to be commenting on a great deal is the artwork, Couple, which will be situated on the new breakwater. Many people are likening it to 'our Angel of the North', and it will be a very exciting day when the two large figures arrive - expected to be around 12th july.

Next load of sand expected 10pm tomorrow (Sunday).

north stack and seagullFriday 1 June 2007

A misty start to a new month - visibility was very poor in the bay, and the webcams struggled to cope with the foggy conditions. With the tenth load of sand arriving during the night, there was again little visible activity for daytime onlookers to see, apart from the creeping sandbank that is now almost to the end of Ocean View and the Horseshoe Steps. The steps are in the process of being demolished, and are now fenced off - the former concrete landing at the upper path now a pile of rubble.

During the day officials from the construction team met for site visits and briefings, and it's a shame they weren't here yesterday, because it was such a clear sunny day!

Throughout the afternoon the North Stack tug cruised around the bay, apparently monitoring the water and sand depth by nosing into the beach repeatedly along the new sandbank. In the still of the sea mist it was a fairly surreal sight, and passers by took the opportunity to photograph the scene on their cameras and mobile phones.

It's hard to believe that a little over a week ago the sand had not started to arrive, such is the progress on the beach - and there are still so many thousands of tonnes still to come. We aren't even half way through the dredging phase.

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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