Please Don’t Take Pebbles from the Beach, they’re VIPs! (That’s Very Important Pebbles!)
Rossall Beach Residents and Community Group celebrate the start of each year with a reminder for people not to take the pebbles from the beach to use in their horticultural displays. Please buy them from an approved source instead.
The community group look after the northern stretch of pebble beach at Cleveleys. They enlisted the help of the children of nearby Manor Beach School to produce this video clip to explain why you’re asked not to take the pebbles home with you.
Why are the Pebbles Important?
A high beach is one of the best forms of sea defence that there is. The porosity of the beach material absorbs the energy of the sea. It stops big high waves from forming which could otherwise come over the sea wall.
The sea wall where people love to park their cars on Rossall Promenade to watch over the beach is very low. It’s important that the beach is maintained as a good sea defence. You can see in the next photo that a considerable amount of beach material has been eroded when this was taken.
The promenade itself is on a bit of a higher crest of land. But the streets behind it going towards the tram tracks are below sea level. They are the ones who would potentially suffer most if a flood event were to happen, as they did in the 1 in 200 year storm in 2013.
The pebbles at the top of the beach are vitally important in maintaining the natural sea defence. They protecting the area from the sea and protect the sea wall from damage and erosion.
You can actually see the energy of the tide disappearing as it hits the shore. Some of it is converted into the fabulous noise that you hear along the shoreline as the pebbles are tumbled and rolled.
Where do the pebbles come from?
North shore drift brings sand and beach material inland from offshore from a point around central Blackpool. This material is deposited on the beach by the tide as it drifts northwards.
The very top sections of this beach at Cleveleys aren’t covered by normal tides throughout the year so they don’t get replenished. That’s why it’s a problem when they are removed. It only takes a couple of spells of stormy weather and a considerable volume of material can be shifted by the sea. If pebbles thieves have been there first it makes a bad situation worse.
People have always taken pebbles away when they visit beaches. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures to pick a few shiny treasures up and pop them in your pocket as a keepsake. That’s not an issue and if you want to keep a few shells, bits of sea glass and glittery quartz then please feel free.
What’s the Problem?
Every year when the weather warms up, people start taking pebbles. It’s not an odd one or two, it’s often industrial quantities.
Frequently, visitors to the beach are equipped with buckets and strong bags. Sometimes they’re in vans or with trailers, to take pebbles away in quite large volumes.
It’s not a question of being small minded and worrying about a few pebbles. What would happen if everyone who came to this popular spot did the same thing? If everyone thought it’s OK to fill their car boot to the point that the axle is ready for breaking, there would be no pebbles left – and a lot of homes could be put at risk.
The Rossall Beach Group and the children of Manor Beach School want everyone to be able to enjoy the beautiful beach. Volunteers work hard to look after it for everyone’s enjoyment.
Helpers from Manor Beach School
The children of Manor Beach School helped to spread the message by making a short video.
They were filmed demonstrating, with buckets of water, how waves maintain their energy and can bounce high into the air when they hit a wall, compared to how their energy is dissipated when reaching the porous beach.
Taking Pebbles is Nothing New
Published in 2012
Back in 2012 there was a bad spate of people taking large amount of pebbles from the beach. There were various articles in the press even back then.
Along North and Rossall Promenade through to the tank traps at Rossall School, the beach is made of shingle and large pebbles, backed by a 1930’s concrete sea wall.
The top section of beach isn’t normally covered throughout the year by tides in normal weather conditions. In winter and in especially rough conditions the sea does reach the sea wall. Being over 70 years old, the wall isn’t in a superb state of repair as you would expect. There is some significant cracking along its length. The pebbles at the top of the beach are vitally important in maintaining a natural sea defence, and protecting the sea wall from damage.
Pebble Thieves who come Prepared
However, this beach at Cleveleys has always been subject to people taking large quantities of pebbles. People come along prepared with all kinds of equipment including snow shovels, heavy duty builders sacks, buckets and boxes, and even trailers and vans. Literally filling their boots to the point that it’s a wonder they’ve been able to drive away.
People have even been seen taking the smaller rocks from the end of the terminal rock groyne near the cafe. That was built to prevent erosion of the beach and formation of sandbanks which cause dangerous risk of stranding on incoming tides.
Pebble Problem Makes the National Press
The foreshore and pebbles belong to Wyre Council and they have taken action in the past with the support of the police. The problem was highlighted in the Blackpool Gazette, which was picked up by The Sun newspaper.
About a week later someone was seen putting pebbles back on the beach, which was covered in a follow up item in the local paper. The Sun also picked up the return of the pebbles and ran a follow up piece. On the bright side, it featured Cleveleys on the national map, twanged at least one conscience to put back what they’d taken, and hopefully raised awareness of why the pebbles should be left where they are.
This will be happening on shingle beaches all over the UK.
It’s not petty small mindedness, there’s a good reason, as there is with most things. In the event of a breach, a significant area of properties can be affected. During the last bad breach in the 1970’s this entire area flooded. Hundreds of homes and businesses were affected.
While you’re here…
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