Holland Brook – What Would Be The Effect Of Breaching Sea Wall At Holland Haven

This map shows that Holland Brook reaches as far the A120 near Horsley Cross.


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This larger scale map shows how Holland Brook runs very close to the railway line at Thorpe-le-Soken, even running under the line at one point.

Closer to Holland-on-Sea a small tributary, Pickers Ditch, joins Holland Brook.


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The Environment Agency (EA) has produced the second version of its Shoreline Management Plan(SMP) which outlines how EA plans to protect the coast for the next 100 years.

As I understand it, the final draft of SMP is awaiting government approval.

EA had proposed knocking down the sea wall between Holland Haven and Frinton, a process they called ‘managed realignment’ – perhaps they think the choice of name will affect how the plan is received by people living nearby. EA admitted that Frinton golf course would be flooded. It seems the Tennis and Cricket clubs would have been flooded too.

When EA are planning to maintain existing sea defenses they call this “Hold The Line”.

Currently the plan for the sea wall between Holland Haven and Frinton is a combination of

  • Hold The Line and
  • Managed Realignment

I don’t see how it can be possible to simultaneously maintain a sea wall and knock it down???

In the past Holland Brook was navigable, there are stories of barges sailing to the malthouse at Thorpe in Great Holland Village Design Statement

Little Bentley Village History also mentions Holland Brook being navigable.

According to Roger Kennell, a local historian, before 1700s the Gunfleet Estuary occupied the space between Holland Haven and Frinton. Holland Brook was then called Holland River and  was both tidal and navigable.

Roger and others in Clacton & District Local History Society are researching to produce a publication and exhibition about the Holland River.

There were barracks at Weeley during the Napoleonic war. According to  Peter Beaufort-Price  the barracks were located at Weeley due to its importance as a waterway inland from the sea.

And If The Sea Wall Is Breached?

If the sea wall is breached and Holland Brook becomes tidal once more it seems that there will be far wider effects than flooding Frinton Golf Course.

  • Will it still be possible to drive across the marshes from Great Holland to  
    Holland-on-Sea?
  • Will Pickers Ditch become tidal? If Pickers Ditch is blocked from Holland Brook how will the water that currently flows into it disperse?
  • Will the railway line at Thorpe be threatened?
  • How far inland will Holland Brook be tidal – Thorpe? Weeley?

Neglect At Holland Beach

I have posted before about the state of groynes at Holland Haven, here, here and here. It seems they have been deliberately neglected and the beach has been washed away – leaving the sea wall vulnerable to erosion.  Ultimately the cliff will fall in the sea and then the road and houses behind the cliff.

It’s hard not to see this neglect as deliberate policy and connect it with EA’s desire to breach the sea wall at Holland Haven.  Especially as Charles Beardall, area manager for Anglian Region of EA was quoted in Clacton and Frinton Gazette on 22 March 2012 (bottom of page 9 – left hand column)

“… In this case the future issues is one of having to adapt and accept that Clacton will not be there in the future.”

The Gazette made much of £50million being needed to save the sea front at Holland and Clacton.  But this is to be spent over £50 years.  TDC is already  spending between £1million  and £2 million a year on repairing the sea wall at Holland and Clacton. Sadly these repairs will only be a temporary fix as they do nothing to restore the beach.  As long as the sea continues to wash against the sea wall it will continue to erode it.  Compare this to the situation where Butlins used to be.  Here there is a barrier of dry sand which protects the wall.

In light of this it is not hard to imagine EA reducing the maintenance on the sea wall between Holland and Frinton.  If the wall does breach all they have to say is

“Very sorry – no funds to repair the breach”

Can You Help?

If you have any information or pictures about Holland Brook in the past, or about the coast between Holland-on-Sea and Frinton please email: jeremy@jeremyshiers.com.

Or contact Clacton & District Local History Society – they have an exhibition in Clacton library which is open from 9:30 to 12:30 on Tuesday and Saturday.

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