Along with the Pier the Harbour Arm is the other major feature of Hastings beach front. It has featured in some of my posts already and will again. During construction in the 1890’s engineers found that the sea bed where the harbour arm ends changed from stable sandstone and gravel to the unstable mud of an old river bed. Faced with sprialling costs the project was abandoned. Although not completed the arm has helped build the long shingle beach that stretches between it and the pier. To see the difference 120 years makes compare this picture to this one here. That’s what longshore drift does.
In a recent post of mine I provided a link that explained the action of longshore drift. Although it’s not something most people notice or care about, it has profoundly changed the coastline in Sussex and the economic prospects of Hastings and the surrounding area.
There are three large stone castles along the coast here, Pevensey Castle near Eastbourne, Hastings Castle and Camber Castle. All three were built to protect landing areas and ports. Hastings and Rye in particular were key trade and military ports between 1066 and 1300 due to their proximity to France. Both towns would have been rich and of high status. What would they be like now if their harbours hadn’t silted up?
All though the great storms that occured in the 12th century contibuted greatly to their demise, the slow and steady work of longshore drift sealed their fate.
These photos show how the sea acts upon the shingle. Splash, drag and push is all it does, and through such work changes the fortunes of communities.
The sun was beginning to set when these were taken, bringing out the lovely colour of the wet wood and iron work of the groynes at Glyne Gap. Groynes are designed to slow down the relentless action of longshore drift. To be instantly taken back to your GCSE Geography courses this short YouTube clip provides an excellent explanation of what longshore drift is. More interesting than the clip is the comments left by viewers. I never knew the subject could create such emotion. Click the images to view full size in Flickr.