Farmhouse left hanging over cliff due to coastal erosion is demolished

An 18th century farmhouse that was left hanging precariously off a cliff following a land slip has been demolished.

Contractors used a wrecking machine to level Cliff Farm in Trimingham, north Norfolk, on Friday after coastal erosion made it unsafe to live in.

The machine’s metal jaws tore into the building methodically, starting with the side of the building nearest the sea.

It lifted away sections of roof, with some tiles dropping over the cliff edge, and knocked down the walls.

The driver lifted the chimney pot safely to the ground with his grab, as the owner had reportedly asked for it as a keepsake if it could be saved.

The home had been teetering on the edge of the cliff – with part of the structure hanging over the drop – for more than a month.

Coastal erosion
Demolition workers tear down Cliff Farm in Trimingham, Norfolk (Joe Giddens/PA)

Harry Blathwayt, North Norfolk District Council’s portfolio holder for coast, said: “The owner of the property is obviously very upset to be losing his house.

“It’s a difficult time for him.

“He had hopes to see out a happy retirement in a beautiful position and that’s been taken away from him.”

Mr Blathwayt said it was a “dynamic coastline” in north Norfolk and there are a “number of challenges”.

“There’s the fall of rain, we’ve had masses of rain,” he said.

Coastal erosion
Cliff Farm was teetering over the edge of a cliff (Joe Giddens/ PA)

“We’ve had land slip through groundwater here and that’s how we’ve got to this position today.”

Mr Blathwayt said there were “very few” other properties at risk but they were “very important to the people actually on them”.

“As things develop there will be more,” he said.

“We’re doing a big project at Mundesley and at Cromer to protect houses so hopefully there will be less in the future.”

He said it was not possible to protect every home that is at risk, adding: “We can protect where there is good covering of houses so there’s many people, but for single houses it’s very difficult to make the economics stack up.”

Coastal erosion
The owner had already left the farmhouse (Joe Giddens/ PA)

“Across many parts of England coastal change is happening and has happened for a long time,” he said.

“In north Norfolk our coast has been eroding for thousands of years so it’s not a surprise.

“We can’t protect all of our coastline so yes there are other locations in north Norfolk where erosion is having impacts.

“We’re already working with some people, property owners in north Norfolk to try to find options and solutions for them in short-term similar need to this property here.

“We’ve also got to look to the medium and longer term and prepare and plan in advance because if we can plan in advance hopefully we can avoid the situations and give people options so we don’t end up with properties getting on cliff edges like this.”

Coastal erosion
Cliff Farm was affected by a land slip (Joe Giddens/ PA)

“The sea levels here are rising.

“This side of the country is also sinking slightly – we don’t know exactly how much but it could be anywhere between 30cm to a metre or so over this next century.

“That will have a big impact on our coast.

“There’s also potential for increased storminess.

“Storminess can have a big impact as that can affect our beaches, it can lower our beach levels which is our natural form of defence.

Coastal erosion
The material will be recyled (Joe Giddens/PA)

“So climate change is a factor, we need to be aware of it, this is the frontline of climate change in the UK.”

Mr Goodliffe said he wanted to thank the homeowner for working with the council and being “very pragmatic”.

“It’s a really difficult situation but where you can have sensible conversations we can work together, we can find a way through,” he said.

“I hope that through the work we’re going to be doing with him in the coming weeks hopefully he’ll be able to walk away with options so that he can make choices and be able to safely get on with his life.”

North Norfolk District Council paid for the demolition through a fund it set up for such instances a number of years ago.

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