The power of the sea

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THIS letter refers to the recent storms, being old enough to remember the heavy storms along the north-east coast from County Durham, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in 1953.

That storm had loss of life and great destruction, very much felt in Hartlepool and the Headland.

All the ingredients were there.

We had very high spring tides but, most importantly, we had been battered by strong to gale north-easterly winds, straight off the North Sea.

This caused the sea to be mountainous all along the coast line.

In one particular 24 hours in the storm, on the first high tide in the morning, our very own protection, the Heugh breakwater, was breached along approximately 130ft of its length, about 330ft from the shore.

Where it was repaired can still be seen today.

On the second high tide of that day, in the evening, the whole of the open air swimming pool was washed away.

Also there was heavy damage to the Pilot Pier, the old Town Wall, and across the bay to Middleton and Seaton front.

All because the Heugh breakwater was breached.

God only knows what would have happened if all of the breakwater had gone that night.

I dread to think.

When our Victorian engineers looked at this problem over 150 years ago, they didn’t need to be told our beloved Headland could be gone in one storm.

So the breakwater was their number one priority to be built.

This structure has stood the test of time over many years to protect us from another catastrophe, and mark my words it is coming.

A few years ago it was decided we didn’t need the breakwater any more, by some clown or wiz kid sat in his little office, and let the weather do its worst and let it fall into the sea.

I doubt very much whoever decided this folly had ever taken the time to look along Hartlepool’s coastline in a heavy storm.

This recent storm would have been so much worse if the strong winds had been a few points further around to the north-east, but very luckily it was north-westerly, calming the very high tides considerably.

The point of this letter is simple.

Whoever is responsible for this important breakwater, whether it is Hartlepool Borough Council, Tees and Hartlepool Port authority, or PD Ports, money must be no object.

Major repairs, not just sticking plaster patches, need doing before there is nothing left to repair.

Remember the power of the sea.

Time and tide wait for no man.

Philip Black,

John Howe Gardens,

Hartlepool.