The relief experienced by residents on the East coast in places such as Jaywick, Mistley and West Mersea when the high tides on Friday night did not cause damage is hard for many of us to fully appreciate. Sussex is no stranger to floods, particularly in towns such as Lewes and Uckfield to name two I travel into each day, however the threat of coastal flooding here in Brighton and Hove is much less acute than it is in parts of Essex, but it certainly exists. According to the City Council website our city is at risk from three types of flooding: surface water; ground water and flooding from the sea. The coast line includes a low lying strip of land which runs from close to the River Adur at the border with Adur to Pool Valley and the Old Steine both of which used to be ‘influenced’ by the sea. This part of the coast is made up as we all know of large shingle beaches which are controlled by a ‘field’ of concrete and timber groynes which have been built up over centuries. Sadly the Council website limits its historic recollections to the late 19th Century even though there is a fantastic story of how our Brighton was rescued from the attacks of the sea in the 18th Century on the ‘my Brighton and Hove’ website. According to the post “Daniel Defoe described Brighton as an old and poor fishing town in imminent danger of being completely swallowed by the sea; the proposed expense of £8,000 on groynes was, in Defoe’s opinion, more than the whole town was worth!” However thanks to funds raised in churches across the country two groynes were constructed in about 1723. Thankfully the church goers were more generous than the writer of Robinson Crusoe!
A slightly shortened version of the above blog is due to be reproduced this morning in the Brighton Argus as the opinion piece.