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Newbiggin beach replenishment project
Welcome to Newbiggin by the Sea
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Visit this link to see the latest position of the Oranje - AIS Positioning web site updated regularly

grassy bankThursday 31 May 2007

A relatively quiet day. The ninth load of sand was unloaded at 7am, as fishing boats went about their business as usual. The weather was fantastic - warm and sunny with very little wind, bringing lots of visitors in to see the work in progress.

At one point diggers were seen at the south end of the bay where the grassy bank in front of Beach Terrace had partially collapsed, but it's not certain what their mission was.

The black, sea-coaly beach in front of the Lifeboat House has been cleaned up, presumably to guard against the lovely new sand being spoiled by the debris from this end of the bay being washed along the bay. A large pile of dirty sand now sits in front of the works offices ready to be removed, along with the last of the rock armour currently being held there.

hunkleton stone with richard and tim martinWednesday 30 May 2007

A clearer day, and the Oranje arrived very punctually at 9am with sand load eight. This afternoon another webcam was added to the Webcam Gallery page - with thanks to Peter Donald in Bay View West, whose house is currently directly in front of the beachworks.

Once the sand placement had passed the horseshoe steps foundations, work will continue on the building of the new feature steps leading down to the beach. This will probably be the middle of next week, judging by the speed of the beach growth.

Both of the free newspapers - The News Post Leader and Chronicle Extra (formerly Herald and Post) featured front page stories about the retrieval of the Hunkleton Stone, showing Tim and Richard Martin standing on top of the stone. The article mentions that this web site will be featring further information about the stone and invites anyone with pictures or stories about the stone to submit them for inclusion. Work is underway on this - click here for surrent status - we have a growing bank of Hunkleton images, and would welcome your contributions. Send photos and stories to or call Jason Thompson on 01670 810370 to arrange for your contribution to be included.

sandTuesday 29 May 2007

The sixth load of sand arrived late morning on another rainy windy cold day. The growing sandbank is progressing in front of Bay View West. From the Bank House steps the new beach looks huge, and is advancing quickly.

The rock armour stockpile at the Church Point end of the bay is slowly diminishing, as the rock is being taken by road, a truck at a time, to Blyth for transfer to barge and placement on the extending breakwater.

At the old boat park, the foundations are now in place for some kind of structure - holes and concrete platforms have been constructed in two places, and the rest of the ground is cleared and prepared for the landscaping.

The horseshow steps were closed off to the public today, and the sandstone tiles just below the platform at the upper walkway were beginning to be removed.

stepsThe rock armour foundation on the beach has a basic semicircular shape, and now has a flattened off top ready for the construction of the new feature steps, which will allow beach users access to the sand when complete.

Monday 28 May 2007

A very blustery Bank Holiday, with showers, high winds, and even hail at one point. Even with the weather, a fair number of visitors were on the promenade throughout the day to watch the work. Yesterday's load arrived just before midnight, and by 2am the Oranje was gone again for it's next load, dredging at Skegness.

The next load of sand, originally scheduled for a mid afternoon unload, was rescheduled for 1am.

From tomorrow the horseshoe steps (between Ocean View and Windsor Terrace) are closed to the public for about a month as the new feature steps are built.

Thanks to Brian Cawkwell for the Oranje positioning link at the top of this page.

Sunday 27 May 2007

A quiet day – with ‘Strekker’ harboured up, the only visible work during the day was the continued shaping of the sand by bulldozers.

The ’Oranje’ arrived a little later than expected this evening and waited several hundred metres offshore until the time was right to couple up and offlioad - possibly due to tides or wind conditions - the ‘Ailsa’ followed later to assist. A cold and windy evening. The new load of sand was deposited almost directly in front of the Bank House Club.

Head over heels

Saturday 26 May 2007

On a pleasant morning with a light south-westerly wind, the survey vessel ‘North Stack’ spent some time methodically covering the area of the bay, coming in particularly close to the new spit of sand.

With sand-moving operations over, once again local folk made the most of the new beach, some fishing while others were simply head-over-heels with excitement!

Because the ‘Oranje’ is taking less than the expected twenty-two hours turnaround time, today’s replenishment began mid-evening. This drew the biggest crowd so far, probably in excess of 150 people ranging along the prom and up below the Bank House Club.

Friday 25th May 2007

Many residents who looked out to the sea front this morning saw a quiet bay  - everything was still and it looked as if perhaps the dredger ‘Oranje’ would not turn up today. In fact it had discharged its load and left before 6.30.

bayWork continued on all aspects of the operation. One wagon driver needed the help of a bulldozer to get moving in the soft sand.

Thursday 24 May 2007

The ‘Oranje’ arrived again this morning, not quite as early as expected but with an even bigger cargo – 20,000 tonnes of sand which took about one and three-quarter hours to discharge.

Media interest continues. Yesterday Paul Mooney of BBC Look North was in the bay giving the live weather forecast and Tyne Tees Television recorded an item for the evening news. This morning it was the turn of Carol Kirkwood to do the forecast from the beach for the BBC’s Breakfast programme instead of from her usual position in the Blue Peter garden; she was followed by Fiona Trott recording an item for the BBC local news at mid-day.

There have been three main activities on the beach today:

  • All day, bulldozers have been reshaping the sand into what will become the new beach.  Yesterday evening a few families with children came onto the new spit of sand to be the first to sample the new beach.
  • Engineers have been hard at work uncoupling parts of the pipeline, each attached to its neighbour with huge nuts and bolts; one of the spanners being used looked about a metre long. The pipeline was then reconfigured for the next delivery – moving steadily southwards down the beach.
  • Work is speeding up on the foundations of the new Horseshoe Steps – this will presumably need to be completed quickly as the sand approaches.

With the approaching high tide in the evening, it is interesting to see that the contractors are happy to leave their vehicles on the sand, confident that they are well above the high water mark. This brings back memories of the days when “shuggy-boats” and roundabouts could be left on the beach all summer.

BBC NEWS VIDEO - 23rd May 2007 - click here

BBC Web Site coverage - click here


Wednesday 23rd May, 2007

As dawn broke the 'Oranje' arrived at Newbiggin to herald a new dimension to the bay scheme - that of the importing of sand. Her peaceful and early arrival caught many potential spectators off guard and initially only a few were at the Policeman's Steps to see the sand and water mix pour into the bay, then as time went on to rise above the sea. A group of herring gulls were particularly active looking for some breakfast with the sun rising over the new golden sand - quite a picture. With the 'Oranje' away before 9.00am the new pile of sand was a suprise to those on the promenade and once the tide ebbed it was shaped up by a fleet of machines and the end of the sand discharge pipe extended.

This activity overshadowed the operations by 'Strekker' on the reef with work between the central and west ends to place larger stones. Also, work at the centre of the bay comtinued with the moving of the existing armourstone. - View gallery for 23rd May for many shots throughout the day

Tuesday 22nd May, 2007

Newbiggin was blessed by another fine day and the countdown for the 'Oranje' arrival was well underway with the interest and anticipation at high level. No further sections have been added to the land end of the pipe but additional buoyage has been placed at the sea connection end. Also in rediness for the sand placing, the Hunkleton Stone has been moved to a place of safety at the north end of the bay.

As darkness fall tonight 'Strekker' continues to place armourstone at the west end of the reef its lights like that of a lighthouse swinging around and illuminating the shore.

At the horseshoe steps further armourstone has been moved around but to what extent this work is completed I am not sure.

Finally at the north end of the bay the existing armoustone stockpile continues to contract after numerous wagons take it away.


Monday 21st May, 2007

The week began warm and sunny with calm seas so the weather was been kind to push the work on both on land and at sea. In the bay 'Strekker' continued to push on with the establishment of the reef at the west end and several rolls of geotextile were placed on the sea bed. As darkness falls tonight another barge loaded with larger stone arrived from the Blyth stockpile for placement during the night.

On the shore work to remove stockpiled stone from the north end of the bay continues with road wagons taking it out of Newbiggin. Westminster's large loading shovel also kindly cleared the blown sand from the lifeboat ramp which will be of great benefit to the beach users in that area.

In the centre of the may the moving of the existing armourstone continues with two excavators deployed on this operation.

No work has been done on installing any more land end sand pipes today and information from Newbiggin Reborn says that the dredger will be arriving with sand early on Wednesday this week.

craneSunday 20th May, 2007

All work in this 24 hour period was at sea with nothing happening ashore which allowed the curious to wander on the beach.

At about 0015 'Strekker' was hosting another nmight of cocreting operations which went on for much of the night. This allowed for the completion of the bases for the 'Couple' or so it seems for the time been. By dawn 'Strekker' had moved to the west end of the reef to establish the initial geotextile matting areas (the foundation of the reef) as well as place the smaller stones onto these areas. The matting involves divers working on the sea bed to ensure the matting is placed correctly and weighted down.Operatives were also busy on the 'Couple' bases during the morning low water today taking advantage of the remaining decent size low waters.

By the end of the day 'Strekker', now all lit up, is on placing further stone at the end of the reef.

Saturday 19th May, 2007

It was another windy but sunny day at Newbiggin with the south westerly almost touching gale force at times. Work on the reef was particularly uncomfortable today and with the six posts in for 'Couple's base concrete arrived courtesy of a ready mix concrete wagon on board 'Ailsa' with crane barge 'Strekker' lifting several skip loads of concrete into place.

Ashore work continued on extending the landward end of the sand pipe though the exact direction and target of the pipe is unsure due to extra twists and turns.

At the horseshoe steps the existing armourstone was been moved about in rediness for the new steps.

As for the 'Hunklestone' she sits down from the Bank House. Now clear of her home of many years buried and underwater.The sand and debris that covered her yesterday is now washed off and many have admired her on show whilst they saunter in the wind along the promenade. More on this later.

hunkleton stoneFriday 18th May, 2007

With the best low water of the week and after previous discussions it was agreed to locate the Hunkleton Stone today as well as ascertain its size / bearing. At about 11.20 am the large CAT excavator was taken along to the stone which was about flush with the beach level. With the tide begining to turn excavation began and more of the huge stone was uncovered. However the sea was not going to let us win without a fight and a second large excavator came along and began digging using the sand from the hole to form a barrier to the rising sea.

Excavation halted whilst permisssion to extract the stone was sought and after five anxious minutes both machines started digging at full speed with the CAT attempting to move the stone. The sea was now filling the hole and submerging the stone - were we going to dail? However the giant machine dug deep and the stone was pushed. It moved and the machine's giant bucket was pushed under the stone and it was gently lifted from its home where it had been since the last ice age. The stone was now saved and will not be buried under the new sand. Instead it will be positioned for local and visiotors alike to see. Our thanks go to many people who made this happen including Westminster Dredging, Wansbeck District Council and Atkins, these teams of professionals realising the importance of this venture - thank you.

The stone is now stored on the beach down from the first shelter as a temporary location. [Click here for slideshow]

Elsewhere on the shore the landward end of the sand pipe was further extended and armourstone was cleared from adjacent the promenade at the centre of the bay. Work also continued in removing armourstone from the beach by road wagons.

At sea I forgot to log that on Thursday the sea end of the sand pipe arrived in the bay and was connected to the existing pipe. 'Strekker' has spent today installing the legs for the platform which will eventually hold up 'Couple' with three legs in place during this morning's tide and another three will be installed tonight.

Thursday 17th may, 2007

'Strekker' continued work in the bay today with the emphasis on the foundations for the couple and moving around of stone following concreting operations earlier today. The reef is more noticeable during the current big low waters and working opportunities are taken on both morning and night low waters.

Onshore work began in moving the redundant armourstone from the promenade works out of Newbiggin by road. This stone will eventually be transported by sea to the bay and installed in the reef.

At the horseshoe steps work continued in removing existing armourstone and digging out for the new access steps as well as placing geotextile.

sea pipeWednesday 16th May, 2007

Work on the project continued at a good pace today with operations taking advantage of the current week of low waters.

On the breakwater work continued with concreting operations at the north end in rediness for the 'Couple's support platform . Indeed tonight at 2200 hours the vessel 'Ailsa' arrived with a ready mix concrete wagon on board for another late night of concrete placing.

Earlier in the evening an extension pipe, which was towed across the North Sea to Newbiggin arrived by tug at about 1800 hours tonight. It is now moored in the bay awaiting connection. This pipe will be used as a connector for the sand delivery pipework network which will be in operation from the middle of next week.

Ashore excavation work has taken place for the new steps at the middle shelter but there remains quite a bit of work to be done in this area especially as sand will be arriving and lifting the beach levels from the middle of next week.

No work has taken place today to extend the land end of the sand pipe but additional pipes for this snaking delivery line arrived by wagon earlier today. These have been stockpiled on the beach near to the lifeboat station.

Tuesday 15th May, 2007

As the dawn broke the convoy of works vessels left Blyth on route north to Newbiggin for a busy day. With some decent low tides this week 'Strekker' has been working on the north end of the reef getting things ready for the 'Couple's foundation. With workers on the new reef, preparations to place some of the precast components took place tonight then as dusk fell a truely unusual scene. The works cat vessel 'Ailsa' arrived in the bay and on board was a ready mix wagon with a load of concrete in its drum. The vessel moved alongside 'Strekker' then the mighty crane lifted several skips of concrete onto the reef where workers raced to beat the rising tide. At 2300 hours tonight work is almost complete.

Onshore machines were deployed when the tide was out to futher lengthen the onshore end of the sand delivery pipe which is snaking its way along the top of the existing concrete steps.

14th mayMonday 14th May, 2007

Whilst there appeared to be no activity in the bay and the tides curtailed any opportunity in the middle of the bay until evening there was further progress with the promenade works near to the end shelter.

By 1900 tonight however with the tide ebbing it was action stations in extending the sand discharge pipe at the beach end. With a dozer, loading shovel and excavator deployed the existing steel pipe was lifted clear of the beach and propped up by a number of piles of sand. Over the next 90 minutes three pipes were brought along from the north end of the bay and bolted on. It is likely this activity will continue tomorrow evening. The work ended at about 2030 hours.

Sunday May 13th, 2007.

The grey and misty shroud hung over Newbiggin Bay this morning but out of it came a flotilla headed by a workboat, a tug, a hydraulic crane cat work boat and the crane barge ' Strekker'. The forecast was poor and the wind and waves began to lift almost as soon as the group were in the bay. Nevertheless 'Strekker' held by the work boat spent eight hours at the reef north end moving stones ready for the foundations of the 'Couple' structure going in. By 1830 it was anchors away and the flotilla got underway to battle their way through the rough seas back to Blyth.

Saturday 12th May, 2007

In terms of the happenings in the bay or on the shore Saturday was a non event. With no activity at sea apart from a brief visit by a survey boat the focus turned to the shore. Sadly there was nothing to report with some minor activity on the sand pipes. With a high tide early afternoon the tides obviously curtailed any opportunity for other works.

Thursday, 10th May, 2007

Activities in the bay remained quiet today offshore with only the local seagulls enjoying their new roosting point albeit for a few hours at low water.

On the beach work began on preparing the sand delivery pipes which are stacked near to the lifeboat house. This involved fitting flanges to the ends of the pipes so they can be bolted together. The work continued in near gale force south west winds with sand beating against the workers all day without relent. To the south of this the beach stairs at the middle shelter are almost demolished and further operations in groundworks have continued at the end shelter.

During early evening tonight a large Cat D6 dozer arrived on a low loader in readiness for the sand arrival.

bayWednesday 9th May, 2007

Work offshore came to a halt by mid afternoon today when the rock barge was finally emptied. By dusk tonight the barge was under tow of a tug heading north east and on its way for another load of armourstone. With no stone to place and a poor forecast 'Strekker' left the bay and returned to the safety of Blyth Harbour. Tonight the bay looks empty with no activity and no lights shining brightly in the bay.

Onshore demolition work continued on the beach down from the horseshoe steps. At the north end of the bay huge steel pipes arrived and were stacked adjacent the lifeboat station. These pipes will be bolted onto the sand delivery pipework and will become the shoreside extension for the sand delivery once operations get underway on the 19th. See slideshow

Monday 7th May, 2007

After another night of work 'Strekker' continued placing stone towards the south end of the new reef. Fresh to strong south west winds eased today and work continued uninterupted. There was no work onshore today but fine weather brought quite a view visitors down onto the promenade to see what is going on in the bay.

Sunday 6th May, 2007

After another night of work 'Strekker' continued placing stone towards the south end of the new reef. Fresh to strong south west winds battered the operation during the afternoon but despite this work continued.

Saturday 5th May, 2007

Offshore 'Strekker' continued to place armourstone with larger stone being placed in the centre section. At low water today the placed stone was just begining to emerge from the sea and the lower tides in the next ten days will further expose the new reef. Fresh south east winds blew during the afternoon but work continued throughout.

Onshore additional safety notices were placed down from Beachville and demolition of the existing beach steps at the middle shelter continued with redundant reinforcing steel being cut out.Some minor work was carried out at the area adjacent the end shelter.

Thursday 3rd May, 2007

'Strekker' remains active in the bay moving towards the southern end of the reef. The wind has moved north easterly but as yet seems not to have impacted on the works. Armourstone for the reef continues to be brought from the large barge and as darkness falls there is plenty of movement of vessels.

Onshore, excavation work in the first of a variety of promenade improvements has begun near to the end shelter. Towards the horseshoe steps existing armourstone continues to be moved to the north end of the bay. See slideshow

3mayWednesday 2nd May, 2007

'Strekker' is back in action in the bay tonight after arriving late afternoon. After deployment of her anchors and stone barge alongside work began again at 1930hours after a number of days 'harboured up'.. The fleet of support vessels are also in attendance and no doubt it will be full steam ahead with the stone placing in this current weather window throughout the night.

Onshore the viewing platforms are now open and being used by the many people on the promenade. Adjacent the end shelter the regeneration of the former boat park area continues with site clearance well underway.

During today's low water excavators and dump trucks removed further armourstone in the vicinity of the horseshoe steps.

Tuesday 1st May 2007

The month began fine but another day of onshore wind and swell meant the 'Strekker' remained tied up in Blyth. No offshore work was done today but an interesting observation was made by local fishermen today that broken water in the reef position at low water shows the reef will soon be visible at least when the tide is out.The forecast suggests some southerly wind by the weekend so this may be a window of hope to get on with things on the reef construction.

Onshore existing rock armour was removed in the vicinity of the horseshoe steps and the boat compound near to the end shelter was finally cleared and a temporary fence erected.

The new viewing platforms remain closed until painting works are completed.

30aprilMonday 30th April, 2007

Despite fine and sunny conditions the moderate easterly wind lifted the swell meaning the crane barge 'Strekker' was unable to work. This probably also meant that rock placing was suspended early evening on Sunday and there was no action earlier today. With easterly swell continuing the barge was towed back to Blyth early afternoon. The conditions for the week do not offer much hope as the current high pressure is feeding onshore winds at least until Friday so the swell will continue.

Ashore work continuued on the viewing platforms and may well be finished. Debris was also cleared off the beach at the north end of the bay. See slideshow

Sunday 29th April, 2007

Offshore the day began with another large barge rendezvousing with the main rock barge to transfer excavators at sea - not an easy job to drive an excavator across a gap between two vessels!!; then this barge towed by a tug headed off to the south east - destination unknown.

By lunchtime crane barge 'Strekker' returned to the bay and by mid afternoon work had begun again in placing the stone in the reef. At the main stone barge work continued in loading the smaller barges for this operation.

On the promenade work also continued on the two viewing platforms and this was still underway at teatime.

Saturday 28th April, 2007
Moderate onshore winds again today meant conditions for the crane barge were not acceptable so no work out in the bay. Rock barge from Norway lying offshore awaiting work to commence again. Onshore work on the temporary visitor platforms behind the sea wall is almost complete with sheets of plywood making an accessible decking. Preparations underway to clear some sand at the lifeboat slipway and move some of the stored armourstone at the north end of the bay.

Updates provided by Richard Martin RNLI

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

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

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