Beach Nourishment Works

Beach Nourishment Works

Beach nourishment works were carried out at Cleveleys, back in June 2013.

The nine week programme of works replenished beach material adjacent to the new stepped sea defences in the main central stretch. It was quite effective and much later in autumn 2019 the toe of the defences is still covered with sand and shingle. Take a look at this video, filmed in 2019 –

Cleveleys beach and promenade at the Cafe, featuring Mary's shell

When the new sea wall was built at Cleveleys, the shingle material was pushed seawards in the expectation that it would return once works had finished. The hope was that north shore drift would deposit sufficient beach material at the base of the steps to protect the foundations from erosion. It happened in one or two spots – mostly inside the curved areas – but not elsewhere.

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It was expected that some beach recharge works would need to be carried out at some time after the sea defence work was completed.

North shore drift carries a lot of beach material along the coast and deposits it at Fleetwood. This means that the base of the sea defences were exposed at Cleveleys, but there was far too much beach material further along the coast.

Exposed sea wall foundations at Cleveleys

Before this work was carried out, the eagle eyed ones might remember that you could see the steel sheet piles at the foot of the steps. This is not how the sea defences are designed to work. The steel piles and what’s called the ‘toe’ of the defences, where they meet the beach, are supposed to be buried.

See the sheet piles exposed at the toe of the steps at Cleveleys. This photo March 2012
See the sheet piles exposed at the toe of the steps at Cleveleys. This photo March 2012
See the sheet piles exposed at the toe of the steps at Cleveleys. This photo June 2012
See the sheet piles exposed at the toe of the steps at Cleveleys. This photo June 2012

‘Sheet piles’ were rammed vertically, deep into the beach before construction. The concrete steps sit up against them to prevent movement and form a solid base. It’s the very top edge of the metal sheet piles that you could now see, exposed by the sand which was intended to cover them.

The beach nourishment project aimed to rectify this by raising the level of the beach. The first job was extending the groynes to keep the beach levels high and reduce further erosion.

Extending the Rock Groynes

The first phase of works was to extend the groynes. The groyne adjacent to the cafe was extended in rock, along with the next ones heading south. This is to reduce the northwards erosion effect of subsequent tides. Rocks were imported to site from a quarry at Carnforth, brought in by road.

Extending a rock groyne at Cleveleys beach
Extending the groyne at the cafe, Cleveleys beach. June 2013

It sounds counter-intuitive, that a groyne made from rock with holes in it would be effective. Rock is actually more effective than wooden groynes. The rock reduces the turbulence in the water (whereas wood increases it). So the fine beach material suspended in the sea can settle out more easily. This is why the channels are smaller and the beach heights more similar against a rock groyne than they are against wood.

There was already a short stretch of wooden groyne right against the steps, with stone behind and towards the sea. The original rocks were removed and the foundations relaid to support the new and lengthened stone groyne. A shallow foundation is dug in the sand on the beach and lined with a geotextile fabric. First, smaller pieces of stone from the stockpile on Rossall Beach were compacted. The boulders then sit on top, carefully positioned with three contact points each, to extend the groynes.

Nourishing the Beach

Sand and shingle was extracted from the beach at Fleetwood and brought onto site in lorries.

The beach level was raised against the steps and tapered in a seawards direction to meet the existing beach level. This makes a more natural slope, like that seen on the shingle beach of North and Rossall Promenade.

In turn the higher beach level reduces the depth of the water and height of waves that can form. By dissipating the energy of the waves it reduces the distance which they can travel onto the concrete pathway of the promenade.

The sloping beach at Cleveleys, after beach nourishment works were completed, in July 2013
The sloping beach at Cleveleys, after beach nourishment works were completed, in July 2013

Extending the Access Ramp

If you use Rossall Beach you’ll know that there’s an access ramp opposite The Venue, against Cafe Cove. Among other things, it’s used by the Wyre Boat Angling Club.

What you might not know is that the concrete ramp previously had an abrupt end to it, and the beach was much lower than it is now. Presumably, years ago when the slade to the beach was built, sand levels were very much higher. The old ramp stopped short in what had become mid air! This made access for the tractors and fishing boats very difficult.

To make it passable regular works were carried out to push sand and shingle back to the bottom of it. Of course every time there was a rough tide, the sea washes it all away again. This vital access point had been dependent on a Wyre Council workman and a digger being available, which was far from ideal.

During the beach nourishment works, the concrete ramp was extended and rocks piled up in the corner to trap sand and raise beach levels.

The previous sharp end to the concrete beach access ramp, and the low beach level in June 2013
The previous sharp end to the concrete beach access ramp, and the low beach level in June 2013
Extending the length of the beach access ramp
Extending the length of the beach access ramp. Look how low the beach is.

The rocks between the base of the ramp and the steps of the new curved sea defences were repositioned to make them more effective at reducing erosion from swirling waters on this corner. It’s been very successful – we’d forgotten just how low the beach was there.

Beach access ramp finished, with rock armour protection. July 2013
Beach access ramp finished, with rock armour protection. July 2013

Helping a Problem at Fleetwood

This beach management project solved two problems in one. It improved the beach at Cleveleys and sorted out some problems at Fleetwood.

  • The excess shingle at Fleetwood had created a channel on the beach. The incoming tide filled it, but it wasn’t draining properly, leaving behind a muddy residue scattered with rubbish.
  • Excess sand and shingle was also blocking the inlet for the boating lake, so the lake wasn’t filling as it should do either.
Extracting and grading sand and shingle at Fleetwood, July 2013
Extracting and grading sand and shingle at Fleetwood, July 2013
Sand and shingle stored at the back of the boating lake at Fleetwood, July 2013
Sand and shingle stored at the back of the boating lake at Fleetwood, June 2013
Fleetwood beach when all the extraction works had finished
Fleetwood beach when all the extraction works had finished

To do any kind of work like this a license has to be obtained from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). They are the national body which regulates works on beaches and at sea.

During the Works

A nine week programme was scheduled to carry out this work, managed from a compound at the Rossall School end of Rossall Promenade at Cleveleys.

The end of Rossall Promenade is one place where beach access can most easily be obtained. Deliveries of rock and beach material were dumped here before being moved to site.

Works compound for beach nourishment at Rossall Promenade
Works compound for beach nourishment at Rossall Promenade
Loading the dumper for beach nourishment at Rossall Promenade
Loading the dumper for beach nourishment at Rossall Promenade

A smaller stockpile of foundation stones was created near the cafe during the time when high tide was at midday. It’s not easy working on a tidal beach, but this meant maximum use could be made of the morning window before the tide came in again and the work area covered.

Moving rocks for beach nourishment at Rossall Promenade
Moving rocks for beach nourishment at Rossall Promenade

Beach material was lorried from Fleetwood to Cleveleys between 1 July 2013 and 2nd August. The shingle was delivered in trucks to the compound area and tipped onto the beach, then carried along the beach in dumper trucks and tipped against the steps.

While you’re here…

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