West, Ian M. 2018. Hurst Spit, Hampshire, Historic Coastal Events . Internet site: www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/Hurst-Spit-Historic-Coastal-Events.htm. Version: 3rd February 2018. With valuable information from Jeremy Greenwood.

See also the associated webpage on Hurst Spit:
Hurst Spit - Main Webpage

Hurst Spit Historic Coastal Events
Ian West,

Romsey, Hampshire, and Visiting Scientist at:
Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences [NOC], Southampton University,

With particular historic information that has been kindly provided by:
Jeremy Greenwood

Webpage hosted by courtesy of iSolutions, Southampton University
Aerial photographs by courtesy of The Channel Coastal Observatory .

Click here for the full LIST OF WEBPAGES
Related Guides:
|Solent Estuaries - Introduction |Solent Geology Bibliography - General |Solent Geology Bibliography - Topics, Alphabetically |Lepe Beach |Wight - Isle of Wight Geology - Introduction |Needles - Isle of Wight Geology |Lymington-Keyhaven |Chesil Beach Storms and Sea Defences |Hordle Cliff and Milford-on-Sea |Barton and Highcliffe Coast Erosion |External Hurst Spit website - Web Cams at Hurst Spit Vision Link - Hurst Castle.

||Milford-on-Sea, Erosion and Sea Defences

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[JUST STARTING]

HURST SPIT - COASTAL EROSION AND RETREAT - SUMMARY OF HISTORY

For more historic coastal information see:

History of Coast Erosion at Barton, Highcliffe and Christchurch Bay, (with a chronological record).

Chesil Beach, storms and hurricanes(with a chronological record)

Hengistbury Head and Mudeford Spit, with a record of erosional history

Hypothetical evolution of Hurst Spit, Hampshire




HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1366 - Very Rapid Coast Erosion at Highcliffe, Christchurch Bay

To judge from the following historical record in Samuel (undated), there seems to have been great land loss in the 14th century. Wallace (1999) suggested that from 1250 to 1425 there was a rapid rise in sea-level and tidal maximum causing great land loss along the South Coast of England and in the Netherlands. [Note: Some of the idea's of Wallace seem quite original and challenging, and he put forward some interesting ideas; however, academic historians are not necessarily convinced by his theories, so I am told. Although a geologist and not at all an historian, I have personally questioned, many years ago a "Roman Harbour" theory at Selsey Bill, that I thought was merely a geological structure. On the other hand he has rightly emphasised the transport of pebbles or small boulder by seaweed and written a paper on the subject. I believe that although his work has to be treated with caution it is stimulating and original and well-worth reading!]

At Highcliffe, adjacent to the Chewton Bunny, Christchurch priory provided 40 acres compensation for land loss to local villeins. The loss must have been at least 40 acres within an easily memorable time. An acre is about 4000 square metres. If a strip 2 acres wide and 20 acres long was lost then the erosion would have been about 126 metres landward. If the strip was one acre wide and 40 acres long then the erosion would have been about 63 metres. These would be minimum figures. If the time was say 10 years then the erosion rate would have been at least 6 metres per annum, which is about 6 times the figure for the maximum erosion rate in Christchurch Bay in recent times. It could have been more than this.

A summary of the information is quoted below. The full document is a manuscript in the British Library - T16, part II, Folio 38a. It is in Latin, but a historian might be able to obtain from it a clearer picture of the ravages of the sea at that time.

[Because of major loss of land around Highcliffe by coastal erosion of Barton Clay -] "Summary: Christchurch Priory has granted its villeins of South Chewton forty acres in lots to the west of Chewton Mill in the thirty-first year of King Edward's reign (1366), in return for which the men have paid two marks as entry fee and are renting each acre at two-pence payable annually at the Feast of St. Giles: therefore they are not to be charged because of these acres, but neither are they to be excused from services which they did before this present concession; they may never claim compensation from the Priory for any of their land waste by the sea, nor relief from gifts previously owing by custom to the Priory: and if it is necessary to move their homes owing to marine devastation the men agree to rebuild at their own expense on the forty acres.

Rapid erosion at this time would have provided an ample supply of beach shingle for major accretion at the end of Hurst Spit. However the erosion of the local cliffs would have been accompanied by a substantial landward retreat of Hurst Spit. At about this time the spit probably moved backwards quite rapidly before establishing a fairly stable situation, with only slow retreat, from Henry VIII's time (about 1540) to the present

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1703 - Daniel Defoe's Great Storm or Hurricane

Two great storm have drastically changed the coast in the Wessex Region and undoubtedly severely affected the Hurst Castle Spit. One of these was the 1703 storm. It took place on the 26 November 1703 (Defoe, 1705). It is a famous event that destroyed most of the windmills in England. It is considered to have changed the mouth of the Bealieu Estuary in the relatively sheltered waters of the Solent by forming a new spit. According to Legg (1999) this had been recorded in parish registers as: "The great storm, both at sea and land, the greatest man knew in England was on the 26th day of November in the year 1703". This storm continued over several days.

In this storm the Eddystone light was destroyed and all its occupants drowned, and within the first six hours of the storm the Royal Navy had lost twelve ships and over 1700 men. In all some 8,000 people were killed and thousands more injured. The author Daniel Defoe was in London at the time, and he used his own experiences of "this terrible Providence" as material for what became his first full-length book, The Storm, which he published the following year. Richard Hamblyn suggests that this great storm was a hurricane that was thermally boosted in its passage from North America to Britain.

I have no specific information on the effects of this storm on Hurst Castle Spit, but since it changed the coast within the West Solent it is certain to have had a major effect on the spit. It is likely that the spit retreated significantly, but there appears to be no definate evidence of this. Captain Greenville Collins' chart of 1693, a version of which shown above does not indicate drastic changes, but unfortunately it is not accurate to the level of detail required.

It was to be 121 years before a storm of comparable magnitude hit the coast of southern England.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1717 - Construction of Sea Defences at Hurst Castle

A revetment and groyne, referred to as the "New Wharfe" was built at Hurst Castle in 1717 because of coast erosion (Heygate, 1920 referred to by Nicholls and Webber (1987a).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1742-1908 Stability of Point of the Deep.

A map of Hurst Spit, Milford-on-Sea, Lymington and Sowley areas in 1740, showing locations of ironstone mining and iron ore production

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The Point of the Deep appears to have been stable between 1742 and 1908, followed by rapid accretion to the present ( (Nicholls and Webber, 1987a).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1749-1757 Surges in the Beaulieu Estuary, Hampshire

Mr. J.J. Greenwood, the New Forest historian, has informed me that there is the following information about tidal surges in the Beaulieu river causing serious damage (From Estate Managers records, Northants RO, MB W14-18):
16 January, 1749.
30 November, 1750. This was the highest surge ever remembered at that location.
11 December, 1755.
October, 1757.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1821 December 20, Hurricane at Keyhaven, Hampshire

Keyhaven inundated. Mr J.J. Greenwood drew attention to this record in the diary of Col. Peter Hawker (Payne-Galloway, 1893).

There was a newspaper report on the 7th January 1822. "During the late gales from the SSE the sea ran so tremendously high that the village of Keyhaven was completely inundated. The inhabitants were driven from their first floors, and the breakers ran so high in the very streets of the village that at one time the small boats could not venture to row from house to house." (article kindly contributed by Mr. J.J. Greenwood).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1824 - "The Great Gale" - the English Channel Hurricane and Storm Surge

English Channel Hurricane of November 1824 - Map showing the effects on Devon, Dorset and Hampshire

An unusual hurricane and storm surge, known at the time as "The Great Gale" or "The Outrage", took place in the night of 22-23 Novemeber 1824 and is quite well-documented. The was a hurricane and storm surge greatly affected Devon and Dorset (See the Chesil Beach storms webpage ). It is notable for destroying the breakwater at Plymouth, flooding over the Chesil Beach, drowning many people as Chiswell, Portland and for raising the level of the Fleet Lagoon by about 7 m. It had serious effects at Sidmouth, Lyme Regis, Bridport, Fleet Lagoon, Portland, Weymouth, Poole and Christchurch, smashing sea-defences, breaking over barrier beaches and flooding low-lying towns. Major wave action, with winds from the S and the SSW, was combined with storm surge causing a rise in sea-level of about 2 or more metres (a similar but worse event, rather like the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, occurred at St. Petersburg (Leningrad) earlier in November 1824).

This storm and surge had a drastic effect on the Hurst Spit (and no doubt on the Barton and Milford coast), yet the castle survived it. Sir Charles Lyell, the famous geologist, geological tutor of Charles Darwin and friend of Queen Victoria, lived in the New Forest (at Cadnam). He wrote in 1835 ( Lyell, 1835), some time afterwards, that "in the great storm of November 1824, this bank of shingle (the Hurst Spit) was moved bodily forward for forty yards (roughly 40 metres) towards the northeast [i.e. towards the marshes and estuary]; and certain piles which served to mark the boundaries of two manors were found, after the storm, on the opposite side of the bar."

When the spit was moved 40 yards, the clay foundations were exposed. An interesting aspect is that the spit lost shingle in this event. Shingle from the beach was strewn over the marshes around Lymington (Ward, 1922). This is an indication of just what might happen at some time in the future. Total destruction of the spit by a hurricane or several hurricanes, that is more than mere flattening, would cause major transport of shingle towards Lymington. The estuary of the Lymington River is remarkable in relation to other Solent and south coast estuaries. It is the one of the few southerly-directed estuaries in the region that is straight (Ward, 1922). Most, such as the Beaulieu River Estuary, the Axe Estuary, the Bridport or West Bay, Bridport, estuary (before artificial interference), Southampton Water etc. have spits of gravel on their western sides. These deflect the estuaries eastward. Many small ones such as Bourne Gap (near Lepe), Titchfield Haven have been closed. At present the Lymington River Estuary does not have a shingle spit and, indeed, it has no shingle of the western side. When and if Hurst Spit is destroyed by marine action then it is likely that shingle beach will develop on the west (Pennington Marshes) side. Eventually, without human intervention this may deflect the estuary to a mouth near Pylewell Point, so that it resembles the Beaulieu River Estuary. Thus the survival of Hurst Spit in something like its present form is necessary to maintain the present form of the estuary at Lymington. Drastic coastal changes are inevitable sooner or later, though.

In the hurricane of 1824, Keyhaven was inundated and there was serious damage here and, as noted above, a major effect on Hurst Spit. Mr J.J. Greenwood drew attention to a record in the diary of Col. Peter Hawker (Payne-Galloway, 1893). There were other gales in 1824 and a poor house was swept away.

Many other storms have occurred, of course, and there has been serious damage in 1989, but there has been nothing on the scale of the 1824 and earlier 1703 great storms. Sea defences and housing developments rarely taken into account these great storms of the past which may only repeat after hundreds of years. No-one knows when the next storm of 1703 or 1824 magnitude will happen, but, of course, it will happen. When it does it will impact on a coast which is now much more developed and on a coast where the natural shingle supply to Hurst Castle has been cut. Some sea defences are likely to survive and reduce damage in places; rock armour may be quite effective in retarding the advance of the sea. Inevitably, though, there will be significant coastal destruction in Christchurch Bay (and elsewhere) and the possible breach of Hurst Castle Spit when the great storm eventually strikes.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1836 - November Keyhaven Flood

Keyhaven was inundated. Mr J.J. Greenwood drew attention to a record in the diary of Col. Peter Hawker (Payne-Galloway, 1893).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1840 November 13, Hurricane Breached Hurst Spit

"the water, the water - for God's sake, get up, Sir."

Mr J.J. Greenwood drew attention to a record in the diary of Col. Peter Hawker (Payne-Galloway, 1893) that a hurricane breached Hurst Spit. Similar trouble happened on 15 and 18th of November.

An article in the Hampshire Advertiser - Anonymous (1840), describes the breaching of Hurst Spit near the Seagrass Lane end in November 1840, resulting in the highest flood known at Keyhaven. The breach was artificially repaired in an emergency operation using marl. Just a few days later there was another hurricane, this one the worst ever remembered. That caused more flooding at Keyhaven, but the repaired spit was not breached. Had the repair not been made it was thought that the spit would have been lost. In fact it survived until flattened in 1989 when it extensive rebuilt as an artificial structure.

Storm effects in the 1840s and thereabouts might have been a factor with regard to good fossil collectin. In the 1840s to 1850s good vertebrate remains including the Hampshire Alligator, Diplocynodon hantoniensis were being found in the are of Taddiford and eastward in Hordle cliff by the collectors for the Marchioness of Hastings (see Hordle Cliff webpage). This was one of the source area of gravel for Hurst Spit. This area was not being eroded much in the 1960,70, and 80s but was an area of accumulation of shingle. It now being to be eroded again to some extent, from the western part eastward.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1877 - January - Storm Surge Floods Lymington

On the First of January, 1877, a southwesterly storm associated with an exceptionally high tide caused a storm surge that flooded parts of Southampton. The same storm surge caused a tidal flood at Lymington (Davison et al. 1993).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1867-1982 - Rapid Recession

Coastal recession at Hurst Spit, Hampshire, from 1867-1982, after Nicholls and Webber, 1987

The maximum recession rate was 1.5 metres per annum according to Nicholls and Webber (1987). This is a high figure for the Wessex coast. At Barton the Barton Clay cliffs have receded at about 1 metre per annum.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1882 - "Tidal Wave"

I particularly thank Jeremy Greenwood (New Forest History) for the following information, which he found in the following, rather obscure, publication:
Cole, A. 1926. Postmaster of Milford on Sea. Some Further Recollections of Milford, no. 23. Milford-on-Sea Record Society: Occasional Magazine, Volume 3, no 4, 1926.

"In September, 1882, a tidal wave broke on the beach at Sturt filling up a considerable portion of Sturt Pond and the outlet, the salt water came up the Dane Stream, killing the fish, roach, carp, etc., and destroyed many of the apple trees in the gardens abutting on the stream. A new cutting was made near the original, but this soon filled up and the present one [in 1926] was made."

Discussion:

Incidently the 1810 or 1811 map (reproduced by Cassini) shows the Dane Stream flowing to the southeast into Mount Lake (the channel in the marshes). There is a pond at Sturt only about a quarter of the size of the present Sturt Pond. The 1885 Map, (as apparently used a base map for the 1926 Geological Survey Map of the Isle of Wight) shows Sturt Pond at about its present size and shape and with a cutting close to the bank. Confirmation of the shape and position of the pond and cutting in 1882 is really needed.

The important matter is that the "tidal wave" was strong enough to move a considerable portion of beach shingle into the pond and also cover the outlet channel. Therefore, at least in this part the effect was almost as severe as that caused by storm action causing sheet-overwash in 1989.

So was it really a storm or was a "tidal wave" or tsunami? Some searching for some records online for other reports of a tsunami in the region or of a nearby earthquake was not successful. There was apparently a "heavy sea" at Boulogne on the 18th September 1882. (see: J. Lambert and M. Terrier - Historical tsunami database for France and Overseas Territories. Online.). In 1882 (date unknown) there was a tsunami at La Rochelle on the west coast of France. On the 7th September 1882 there was a major tsunami at Panama that killed 62 people.

Perhaps of more significance is the fact that the year 1882 was a notable year for tropical hurricanes in the Atlantic and that these went on into September. See 1882 - Atlantic Hurricane Season. They caused tidal surges in America. A large "tidal wave" resulting from a distant Atlantic Hurricane reaching Hurst Spit seems a possibility. However, why is there not a record of a "tidal wave" at the Chesil Beach or Lyme Regis for September 1882 (or have I missed one). It should be noted, though, that there were high tides at Boscastle, Truro, Wadebridge and Padstow at the end of September and in early October 1882 and that they caused flooding. (Incidently, the year of 1882 was also notable for the Great Comet; it became very bright in September 1882, but this was in the southern hemisphere!). Unfortunately, the problem of the Hurst Spit "tidal wave" of September 1882, which changed the Sturt area, remains unexplained.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1885 - Removal of Shingle at Sturt

I again thank Jeremy Greenwood (New Forest History) for the following historic information about Hurst Spit shingle.

Cole, A. 1926. Postmaster of Milford on Sea. Some Further Recollections of Milford, no. 23. Milford-on-Sea Record Society: Occasional Magazine, Volume 3, no 4, 1926.

"About this time [1885] Peterson's Tower [Sway Tower] was built. Most, if not all, the shingle for this, and much more concrete for other buildings there, was taken from Milford beach near Sturt, for months. Fifteen to twenty carts could be seen daily at this work. It was then held that this caused a danger to Milford, - but I do not think so, as much of the shingle is withdrawn by the tides with a continuance of north and east winds. [However] it is washed back again when the wind changes to south-west."

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1902 - Construction of the White House at Milford

The White House at Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, formerly a seaside residence of the Walker-Munro family, and later a children's  hospital

At Milford-on-Sea, the most impressive feature of the sea-front is the White House. This was built in 1902 by the Walker-Munro family, colliery millionaires of Rhinefield House in the New Forest. This summer sea-side residence became a children's hospital from 1938 to 1983, and in 1999 was restored by Colten Developments Ltd. It is a nice building of historic interest. It is also of geomorphological significance as marker with regard to coastline recession and longshore drift of gravel, and is referred to again below (see 1938 ).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1897 - March - Solent Storm

On Wednesday, 3rd March, 1897, a great storm caused devastation on the south coast and in the Solent (Davison et al. 1993).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1908 Accretion at Point of the Deep (North Point).

After a stable phase from 1742 rapid accretion commenced at the Point of the Deep or North Point in 1908 and continued to the present ( (Nicholls and Webber, 1987a). Why has this happened? (Nicholls and Webber reported that shingle was extracted from the active recurve between 1694 and the early part of the 20th century. There was also some extraction of sand and shingle at Milford-on-Sea in the 19th and early part of the 20th century, but, although this created washover sites, the volume was small compared to littoral drift. Nicholls and Webber (1987a) suggest that extraction, mainly at the recurve, approximately balanced littoral drift and that this was the reason for the stability of the Point of the Deep until 1908. Of course, it is possible that some other factor is also involved such as some changes in the rate of coast erosion in Christchurch Bay.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1916 - Sea Flooding at Mudeford.

It is not known what affect there was on Hurst Spit or Chesil Beach or elsewhere. The 1916 Atlantic Hurricane Season (USA etc) is discussed in: Wikipedia - 1916 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The local sea flooding at Mudeford, might be related to the remains of Atlantic storms.

See also: Wikipedia. "Storm Tides of the North Sea. 1916, January 13 - 14, Zuiderland flood Netherlands, 16 casualties and about 300 square km flooded around the Zuiderzee. This flood led to the construction of the Afsluitdijk, creating the IJsselmeer."

Notes from newspaper re Mudeford Spit, Dorset, England - after Hoodless, W.A. (2005). Hengistbury Head (book).

"Raging seas tearing over low sandbank." "Beat high over Haven Inn". "Enterprize Tea Room completely demolished and swept away." "Water beating against houses at the Haven" "Waves breaking all around making it impossible for inmates to venture of doors. Mrs Cutler and three children unable to get out of the door owing to raging surf sweeping around the house."

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1932 - Beach at the White House, Milford, and comparison with later recession

Comparison of the coast at the White House, from 1932-2001, Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire

A wide and high beach in front of The White House at Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, in 1932 before the coast was affected by sea defences

Sea defences at Milford-on-Sea seen in October 2003

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Spume at the eastern out-house of the White House, Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, on the 27th October, as the St. Jude Storm (night of 27-28th October) is approaching

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The seafront at Milford-on-Sea is important to Hurst Spit because it is the feeder area, through which in the past the shingle from the Barton and Hordle cliffs reached the spit. A aerial photograph of the White House, the conspicous white building to the west of the small town (and mentioned above), was taken in 1932. It shows the two lookout or viewpoint buildings aligned with the back of the beach. As mentioned above, it was built in 1902. Its exact relationship to the beach at that time is not known, but since coast erosion here has been progressive it is probable that the beach was even wider or further to south in 1902 than in 1932 . Notice, incidently, that in 1838 the narrow concrete wall, oblique to the coast, was already in existence already. Perhaps, there had already been some threat of coast erosion. I wonder why it is not parallel to the sea frontage of the building; perhaps it was intended to trap the southeast-moving gravel.

In 1938, unlike the present day, there was a wide beach that seems not to have been significantly damaged or destroyed by sea defences to the west. Shingle could then pass by long-shore drift from west to east (in accordance with prevailing southwesterly winds) and supply Hurst Spit.

The photograph of the White House on the 6 May 2001 by the Channel Coastal Observatory, shows a very different situation. Much rock armour has been placed in front, and there is more of this further west. Now shingle cannot easily pass the various obstructions, of which this is only one. In any case it cannot proceed further southeast because of major sea defences at the Milford end of Hurst Spit.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1953 - Sea Encroachment at Milford-on-Sea

Newspaper report: Anonymous (1953). Sea encroaches 30-40 feet. New Milton Advertiser, 25 July 1953, p.1. Article not seen, but referred to by Delair (2007).

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1954 - November - Hurst Spit Breach and Chesil Beach Damage

A severe storm raged over southern England for two days in November 1954. In the nine o'clock news on the BBC radio on the 27th November 1954 there was report of serious destruction on the Chesil Beach. See the Chesil Storms webpage for more details. As sometimes happens (e.g. 1824) damage to the Chesil Beach and Hurst Spit occurs at about the same time.

Regarding Hurst Spit, there is a newspaper report: Anonymous (1954). Houses destroyed by floods: terrific seas burst through Hurst Shingle Bank. New Milton Advertiser, 4 December 1954, p.1. Article not seen, but referred to by Delair (2007). This article presumably refers to the same storm that affected the Chesil Beach.

The 1954 storm affected other places. At Lymington, Hampshire from 26 to the 30 November 1954 the sea came over the west bank of the harbour five nights in succession. There is reference to Spring tides, an east wind and much rainwater. Tidal flooding to 2 and a half feet of water was noted in the semi-basement of the "Smugglers Haunt". The floor of the Lymington Town Sailing Club was covered with 2 inches of water (see Chitty, J. 1983, The River is Within Us: A Maritime History of Lymington, Belhaven Publisher, 250 pp.)

There is more specific information regarding the Chesil Beach. In the nine o'clock news on the BBC radio on the 27th November 1954, it was said that:

"Chesil Beach had been breached in 30 places" (Arkell, 1956). The storm began about 7am on 26 November 1954, and increased in violence all day. The Shambles light-ship recorded winds of gale force 8. The Dorset Daily Echo for the 27 November states that by 11pm on the 26th "Boiling seas, surging over and up through the Chesil Beach swamped the main road.. A stretch from Ferry Bridge to Portland Square lay under water up to a depth of 4 ft. in places... Wyke coastguards counted 30 holes where the seas had worked through the Chesil Beach... A stretch of wall about 40 ft in length skirting the oil tanks was smashed down."

Arkell argued that the beach was not actually breached but that water burst out from the back of the bank from what are locally known as "caverns". Wave tops and spray spilled over the top but most of the water came through. One of the caverns was 10 ft deep and 100 ft across (Arkell, 1956) .

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1958 - Milford Groynes, Walls and Washover Fans and the landward end of Hurst Spit

The Milford end of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, as seen in aerial view in 1958

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The Milford end of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, seen in aerial view in 1958, shown here in as a version that has been lightly tinted by Ian West, 11 November, 2017

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1963 - Accretion at Hurst Point

Build-up or progradation of shingle at Hurst Point, east of Hurst Castle developed to eastern end of the military jetty so that thereafter it was no longer useable by boats.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1965-1966 - Emplacement of Rock Armour at Milford, Western End of Spit

The stretch of the bank from the Milford seawall for 600m towards the southeast was armoured by imported rock between 1965 and 1966 (Wright, 1998). In 1984 it was decided to build a small rock groyne at the end of the rock armouring. On 16 and 17 December 1989 southwesterly storms combined with a surge of excess of 1 metre flattened an 800m length of the spit. Amongst other measures, such as much resupply of shingle, the already rock-armoured western section of the Spit was strengthened by a second layer of armourstone over the existing structure according to Wright (1998). This paper includes a photograph showing preparatory work taking place in 1996 before the new rock armour was deposited in place. At this stage the rock armour was waiting ready in a very large pile on the beach. The larvikite discussed below is presumably this second layer of armourstone.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1968-1982 - Very Rapid Recession of Hurst Beach

The recession of Hurst Beach, the main part of Hurst Spit, increased significantly after 1968, attaining a maximum rate of 3.5 metres per annum in the period 1968-1982 Nicholls and Webber (1987b). This represents two to three times the previous rate. It is not clear whether it is entirely due to increased shingle starvation because of the Milford sea defences, or whether some change in wave conditions has been a factor.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1979 - February (13th?) - Breach and Washover

Site of washover and breaching of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, at the southeastern end of rock armour sea defences, 1979

Breach beginning to develop at Hurst Spit, Hampshire in February, 1979

Breach and washover at Hurst Spit, Hampshire in February, 1979

A brief report in the Southern Evening Echo for Thursday 15 February, and by Keith Bloodworth was entitled:

Cruel Sea Breaches Hurst Shingle Bank

"Hurst shingle bank at the entrance to the Solent was breached by heavy seas yesterday and bulldozers stood by in case of any further break-throughs. Twenty foot waves rolled in from the Christchurch Ledge" and lunchtime's high water was the highest of the week. Huge waves crashed over the spit. Flooding was reported along the Milford sea front near the Marine Cafe and shingle was hurled into the road.
The breach was at New Lane, Keyhaven, the weakest part of the spit. New Forest Council have just finished re-building and reinforcing the bank with hundreds of tons of stone after the December [1978] gales when the spit was breached in several spots and the bank was pushed backwards in places up to 40ft [12m]."

Presumbly this was related to the overtopping of the Chesil Beach on the 13th February 1979 and the flooding of Chiswell.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1989 - December - MAJOR EVENT! - Sheet Overwash and Flattening of Hurst Beach

Destruction by storms of Hurst Beach in 1989, Hurst Spit, Hampshire

The most severe damage to Hurst Spit occurred in the winter of 1989, particularly the 16th - 17th December. The storms not only overwashed and broke though in individual locations, as in 1979 above, but overwashed on a large scale as "sheet overwash". The top of the beach for a considerable distance was washed over to the saltmarshes behind. The beach was flattened so as to be no longer a barrier. This disastrous sheet overwash is also referred to as "sluicing overwash".

At this stage Hurst Spit was almost in its death throes. Sea defence work to repair it for short term survival cost 440,000. The five million pound stabilisation scheme which took place in 1996-7, and is discussed elsewhere in this webpage, was a follow-up to this near loss of the spit. It is far from totally safe, however, and now the main bank is an artificial feature that requires periodic maintenance by adding gravel.

Davison et al (1993) wrote:
"The two mile long shingle spit on which Hurst Castle is perched suffered terribly. Jutting far out into the Solent, it was created by wind and tide and now giant waves were claiming it back tearing out its central section, trapping two fishermen for almost 20 hours. They were eventually airlifted from Hurst Castle. Ironically, 50,000 had recently been spent on sea defences to this enormous natural barrier."

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

1996-1997 - MAJOR WORK -Sea Defences - Main Stabilisation Programme

Map of sea defences and other features at Hurst Spit, Hampshire

Hurst Spit, Hampshire, stabilisation works, 1996-7, New Forest District Council Newsletter

The bank which had been flattened in 1989 was new defended by a delivery of larvikite igneous rock from Norway (further discussed below), and by the construction of an artificial high bank for about 2 kilometres of dredged shingle. The shingle bank was rebuilt artificially so as to resemble the original natural shingle bank, and this, in general, was successful. The topic of the reconstruction and addition of rock armour is discussed in some detail in a separate section below.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

2006 - October Gales

Gale force wind causes strong wave action at the landward end of Hurst Spit, Hampshire and the adjacent Milford coast, October 2006

Waves driven by a gale of the 1st October 2006, Hurst Spit, Hampshire

There were gales for much of two days at the beginning of October 2006. Although the sea was impressive to watch, there does not seem to have been much effect on the main shingle bank.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

2007 - a 1 in 19 year storm, and washover threat near Milford-on-Sea

The winter of 2006-2007 was characterised by relative lack of cold, frosty weather and the common occurrence of depressions and fronts coming in from the Atlantic. There were often gales and heavy rain, although the spit was not greatly damaged.

We now examine a specific problem area between the Milford-on-Sea sea front car park and the eastern end of Hurst Spit with massive rock armour sea defences. Look again at the old aerial photograph from 1958 above, and observe that obvious washover fans extended down to Sturt Pond from near this particular area. This has long been a vulnerable washover area.

Area of washover between Milford-on-Sea sea front car park and the larvikite rock armour of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, aerial view in 2001

The Milford-on-Sea end of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, in a 1 in 19 year storm, showing a particular area that is vulnerable to washover

The effects of a storm, as observed at Milford-on-Sea at the western end of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, on 18 January 2007

Keyhaven Marshes flooded by a combination of high tide and a storm surge, at the back of Hurst Spit, Hampshire, 18 January 2007

On Thursday 18 January 2007 there were storm force winds mainly from the west, rather than southwest. This storm was quite intense with a wind strength of 90 miles per hour having been recorded on the cliff top above the Needles, Isle of Wight. Many trees were blown down, and ferrys to the Isle of Wight cancelled. The storm was regarded as of a 1 in 19 years type.

At the western end of Hurst Spit much sea-spray was being thrown over the larvikite sea defences. A little further west, at the eastern end of the sea-front car park at Milford-on-Sea a potential problem area was clearly shown. Here the beach is sediment starved because of the unfortunate presence of sea defences immediately to the west, in the area of the White House. In addition the sea wall is relatively low, and certainly much lower than the top of the reconstituted Hurst Spit beach with its larvikite rock armour.

The abundant sea spray here, together with beach shingle having been thrown onto the car park, indicates this as a weak place in the sea defences, easily overcome by a storm of greater strength than this 1 in 19 year example. Confirmation of this is shown by a small but continuously flowing stream of seawater into Sturt Pond, which was fairly high in level. The washover stream was only about a metre wide and was easily crossed on foot, although the repeated heavy spray was a problem to the walker. When a storm of greater intensity occurs, especially a repeat of the 1824-type hurricane, this area is very likely to be seriously overwashed and impassable. Any escape on foot from the Hurst Beach at such a time would have to be via New Lane if the footbridge proved to be passable and flooding was not too severe.

The limited low area between the built-up Hurst Spit and the higher ground west of Milford has has some similarities, on a much smaller scale, to the low part of Chiswell on the Isle of Portland where the Chesil Beach is well-known for serious overwashing (and now has a flood channel to carry away the water). However, the sea-front at Milford does not have any record of flooding events on the Chiswell scale.

At the same time as storm waves were breaking here, the Keyhaven Marshes were completely submerged by the (11am) high tide. They are relatively sheltered by Hurst Beach but it is probable that there some degree of storm surge and rise of sea-level in the Solent. As shown in the photograph, New Lane was flooded at the low part near the marshes.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

2010 - 2011 - Flooding in the Moat

The moat will probably slowly flood, with rising sea-level, at  Hurst Castle, Hurst Spit, Hampshire, photo 2010

No drastic changes were notices in September 2010. The caponier (gun defence feature) in the moat contained several centimetres of water and could not be walked into from the castle easily. Around it marsh plants such as Atriplex portulacoides are flourishing. There is also much bright green, Enteromorpha algae. It is expected that with rising sea-level this area around the caponier will progressively flood with sea water.

A high tide on 6th August 2011 causes flooding in the moat at Hurst Castle, Hurst Spit, Hampshire

Since the above was written in 2010, a high water level was noticed in the moat on the afternoon of 6th July 2011. This tide had covered almost all the salt marshes in the Keyhaven area behind the spit.

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HISTORIC RECORD - continued

2010 - Onward - Shoreline Management Plan

Poole and Christchurch Bays, Shoreline Management Plan - SMP

See these important documents on the plans for the coastal management or shoreline management of the area. Summarised contents of a version are given below and look for the section of interest. However, this SMP is not the final version, and there will be an update. If you do not find it directly from the links here, search by Google etc for the latest version, using the keywords - "Poole Christchurch SMP".

Poole and Christchurch Bays Coastal Management Group. 2010. (SMP - Shoreline Management Plan)
Poole and Christchurch Bays Coastal Management Plan (or SMP - Shoreline Management Plan). Draft SMP2. Draft version of the SMP, later to be replaced by final version (see this when it is available. SMP2 is due to be published in April 2010.). Available online as PDFs at Poole and Christchurch Bays Coastal Management Plan.

Contents: Draft SMP2
Section 1, Introduction
Section 2, Environmental Assessment
Section 3, Basis for Development of the Plan
Section 4, Appraisal of Options and Rationale for Preferred Plan:
Section 4.1, Introduction.
Section 4.2, Policy Development Zone 1 Central and Eastern Sections of Christchurch Bay (Hurst Spit to Friars Cliff).
Section 4.3, Policy Development Zone 2 Christchurch Harbour and Central Poole Bay (Friars Cliff to Flag Head Chine).
Section 4.4, Policy Development Zone 3 Poole Harbour and Associated Coastline (Flag Head Chine to Handfast Point, including Poole Harbour).
Section 4.5, Policy Development Zone 4 Swanage (Handfast Point to Durlston Head).
Section 5, Summary of Preferred Plan and Implications
Section 6, Policy Summary, including Policy Summary Map.
Appendices (all documents open in a new window)
Appendix A, SMP Development.
Appendix B, Stakeholder Engagement.
Appendix C, Baseline Process Understanding, including Coastal Process Report and Flood and Erosion Mapping. Accessible from a separate page including No Active Intervention (NAI) and With Present Management (WPM) assessments, and summaries of the data used in assessments.
Appendix D, Natural and Built Environment Baseline (Thematic Review).
Appendix E, Issues and Objective Evaluation.
Appendix F, Strategic Environmental Assessment.
Appendix G, Scenario Testing.
Appendix H, Economic Appraisal.
Appendix I, Estuary Assessment.
Appendix J, Habitat Regulation Assessment - Appropriate Assessment.
Appendix K, The Metadatabase, GIS and Bibliographic Database is provided to the operating authorities on CD. It will be included in the final SMP.
Appendix L, Water Framework Directive (WFD)
Appendix M, Review of Coastal Processes and Associated Risks at Hengistbury Head.

. HISTORIC RECORD - continued

2013-2014 Winter Storms

(See photographs above)

St. Jude's Storm on the night of the 27-28th October 2013 caused much erosion on the seaward side. There was some washover and some gullies were cut on the marsh side with small washover fans at the base. Winds of 90 mph were recorded at the Needles.
Another bad storm took place on the night of the 6-7th January 2014. This was characterised by very high spring tides and gale-force winds. Very large waves came in from the Atlantic Ocean towards the Chesil Beach. It affected the form of the Chesil Beach by steepening it and the warning siren was sounded at Chiswell. At Hurst Spit the main effect was a steepening,cliffing and some erosion of the artificial gravel bank. Much material from the natural, reworked, lower beach in front of this seems to have been lost. The general effect was not disastrous but was another general attack on the beach with a significant percentage loss (rather similar to the effects of St. Jude's Storm). The top hard gravel surface (effectively a roadway to and from Hurst Castle) is being reduced in width. If a really major storm (like 1824 or even less serious) occurs the top artificial bank will be lost, at least in part.

My general impression is that the artificial gravel bank is now cliffed and under progresive destruction. There seems to be some progressive straightening of the Hurst beach because it is retreating on the seaward side of the bend. The second storm mentioned above gives an impression that shingle is being lost just southeast of the larvikite bank (see photograph above). This would be expected, since there is no longer any natural supply of shingle from the west.

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[END OF HURST SPIT HISTORiC COASTAL EVENTS WEBPAGE]

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am particularly grateful to the New Forest historian - Jeremy Greenwood, for much helpful data. He very kindly providing me with information on the history of flooding in the area, and drawing attention to errors or weaknesses regarding historic matters. This help has been invaluable.

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Copyright © 2018 Ian West, Tonya Loades and Joanna Bentley. All rights reserved. This is a private, academic website intended to be useful for research, reference and educational purposes, including lecturing. Images and text may not be copied for publication or for use on other webpages without permission or for any commercial activity. A reasonable number of images and some text may be used where appropriate for non-commercial, non-charged, non-online and non-published academic purposes, including field trip handouts, student projects, dissertations, lecture etc, providing the source is acknowledged. All images so used must contain the original caption, including the copyright statement. Some images are not those of the author and in that case the copyright is that of the original photographer and these are not for any use without specific permission from the source photographer. This particularly applies to aerial photographs, but also to some sets of field photographs.

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Dr Ian West, author of these webpages

Webpage - written and produced by:


Ian West, M.Sc. Ph.D. F.G.S.

.

at his private address, Romsey, Hampshire, kindly supported by Southampton University,and web-hosted by courtesy of iSolutions of Southampton University. The website does not represent the views of Southampton University. The website is written privately from home in Romsey, unfunded and with no staff other than the author, but generously and freely published by Southampton University.