Tower could be moved brick by brick

REBUILDING an historic coastal fortress brick-by-brick to stop it being washed away by the waves could cost more than £5 million, according to a report out today.

REBUILDING an historic coastal fortress brick-by-brick to stop it being washed away by the waves could cost more than £5 million, according to a report out today.

The Napoleonic Martello Tower at Bawdsey is in grave danger this winter from the North Sea, which has been eating away at the cliffs on which it stands.

There are two options for the future - take the 19th century tower down piece by piece and rebuild it on a new site, or protect the area with £500,000-plus sea defence improvements.

East Lane at Bawdsey, where there are also two homes, has been under threat for several years.

Some 14 metres of land was lost to the sea at the isolated spot in the first eight months of this year.

The rate of erosion was measured in an artistic project with 38 flags positioned next to the cliff. The flags were installed in January and had all vanished as the land crumbled into the sea by September.

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Suffolk Coastal's cabinet will discuss the worrying situation on December 6 and is being recommended to continue investigations into the problem ready to bid for government grant aid for sea defence work.

English Heritage estimates moving the monument will cost £5m at least - specialist materials and craftsman, construction of a moat, and a site for it may mean extra costs on top.

In a report, councillor Rae Leighton said the Martello Tower was a valuable, designated monument protected by law, of clear national importance and recognised international significance. “Furthermore, the 'worth' of the building is incalculable in heritage terms and its loss would be very serious both in terms of its historic fabric and the historic landscape,” he said.

Although emergency work has been done to the cliffs three times in the past two years at a total cost of £200,000, engineers believe strengthening sea defences is still the best option.

They are proposing a three-phase scheme with the Environment Agency to replace existing concrete walls over several hundred metres of shore to give 50 years' protection.

At present such work would be eligible for government grant aid, but only just. Whether help was received would depend on priorities elsewhere on Britain's coast.

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