Four coastguard cottages remain after demolition

The demolition work taking place at Birling  Gap, Eastbourne SUS-140904-150334001
The demolition work taking place at Birling Gap, Eastbourne SUS-140904-150334001

Only the final few bricks of a former coastguard cottage at Birling Gap remain after the house was demolished because erosion left it teetering on the cliff edge.

Work began knocking down the end-of-terrace property four weeks ago after it sat just 15cm away from the edge due to three years worth of cliff erosion taking place in just three months across the New Year.

A five-strong team of Best Demolition builders descended upon Birling Gap on March 17 to start demolishing the cottage from the top downwards.

It’s been a very careful process for the builders, who had to pay due care and attention to not only the neighbouring property, but also to the fact a cliff fall could happen at any moment.

Owing to the precarious nature of the chalky cliff, most of the work was carried out using a cherry picker to avoid the builders having to stand directly on any unstable land.

Best Demolition estimated it would take four weeks to totally demolish the house, while also preserving the sea-facing wall of the cottage that has now been left at the end of the terrace.

This cottage was the third to be destroyed since seven were constructed between 1800 and 1820. The other two were knocked down in 1994 and the early 2000s.

It is estimated the property now left at the end of the terrace will only have up to 10 years before it too succumbs to erosion.

This cottage isn’t the first building lost to be to erosion this year –) the Birling Gap café’s sun lounge and ice-cream parlour were knocked down in February, while the Birling Gap Safety Boat Association was forced to lose its boathouse.

The unexpectedly high levels of erosion have led to Wealden District Council to warn the public to steer clear of the cliff edge, which is still rife with dangerous cracks.

A spokesperson said, “The public are reminded in the interests of their own safety to stay away from the cliff edges around Birling Gap.

“Months of heavy rain have made all cliff edges unsafe, so please keep a safe distance.”