The hamlet of Kilnsea near Spurn Point on the east coast of England, is not a place to let the grass grow under your feet. Should you try to do this then the grass will soon disappear beneath the waves, and so will you. This is because Kilnsea has been hunted mercilessly by a peckish sea which gobbles up a few feet of its coastline every year.
The original Kilnsea started out some miles inland. However, coastal erosion soon caught up with it and long-term leases on Kilnsea buildings began to be inserted into Christmas Crackers. This was despite the best efforts of the resourceful villagers to continually dismantle buildings and re-erect them a few yards further inland. The sea soon returned to lap at their feet as they read the Sunday newspapers in the downstairs toilet.
They finally gave up and now the churches and houses of old Kilnsea are populated by haddocks, halibuts and herrings out in the North Sea. The villagers were so fed up at being constantly thwarted by the all-consuming sea, their old enemy, that a lot of them emigrated to America by booking a group-deal on a brand-new liner called The Titanic.
The military of Imperial England were not so defeatist. They made a final attempt at a state of permanence on what was left of the coastline with the construction of the Godwin Battery in 1914. This wasn’t a big electrical battery to power their boot polishers and moustache trimmers but a large complex of buildings to defend the east coast against invasion.
This involved pouring tons of concrete into the land in the hopes it would last long enough to support a military camp, a hospital and two great big guns that could take pot-shots at the Kaiser’s Zeppelins. The battery was used in both world wars and no doubt it did help to stop the Germans landing on the east coast. Although these days a few tourists from The Fatherland would be welcomed with open arms in the amusement arcades of Scarborough and Bridlington.
Once the Cold War started the old artillery guns were deemed to be of little use against nuclear missiles and they were removed. In the 1960s the army land was sold and the grey concrete military buildings became a grey concrete caravan site. A perfect place to stay if you are a big fan of howling gales blown in from the North Sea. Because of the sea’s encroachment there’s no such thing as a ‘static’ caravan on the Kilnsea Sandy Beaches Holiday Park. Although a mobile home has always been a wise investment around here.
Despite concrete taking a bit more chewing than bricks and mortar, the appetite of the sea for the East Coast of England has continued to be all-consuming. The Godwin Battery has mostly crumbled like croutons into the sea but you can still explore the photogenic remnants on the beach. There are signs that say ‘Danger of Falling Concrete” however you can choose to ignore these to get a good photo. I took some lovely pictures, I’m reviewing them now from my hospital bed.
The photograph on this blog shows one of the big round gun emplacements enjoying a final bask on the beach before it joins the rest of Kilnsea on the seabed.
We have a newspaper in the UK called The Daily Mail. This a ‘right of Attila’ newspaper that manages to give its readers a new thing to be terrified of everyday. For once the daily scare didn’t revolve around immigrants and they took a look at global warming. Apparently, at the current rate of coastal erosion, the east coast of England will meet with the west coast in the year 2020. Tea-time on the 25th of February to be precise.
On the plus side this means that the newly formed island state of Southern England, can hold its own sodding referendum on Brexit.
To see my other guides to the UK click here.