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Could sink hole appear under Yarmouth’s historic South Quay?

PUBLISHED: 09:31 28 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:31 28 February 2014

Holes have opened up in the planters along South Quay. Pic: LC

Holes have opened up in the planters along South Quay. Pic: LC


Gaping voids under Great Yarmouth’s historic quayside have worried heritage buffs that it could be at risk of collapsing.

Paving stones have dropped around a drain hole cover on South Quay. Pic: LC Paving stones have dropped around a drain hole cover on South Quay. Pic: LC

Holes, subsidence and cracks have been spotted along a stretch of South Quay, prompting concerns the ground could be swallowed up by a sink hole.

The shifting pavement and cobbles were spotted by John Russell, who is among the volunteer team that maintains the Lydia Eva fishing boat, which is moored on the quayside.

On the night of the December 5 tidal surge he watched water pour like a “waterfall” down some of the holes and believes the well-trod thoroughfare could be at risk of a sink hole.

He said: “When we had the tidal surge we were on the boat in case there were any problems. As the water level rose we noticed water was coming up on the cobble stones on the quayside.

Cracks have appeared on South Quay. Pic: LC Cracks have appeared on South Quay. Pic: LC

“And later when the water was pouring away, in those areas where they used to have the trees, water was running down there like a waterfall.”

Mr Russell addressed his concerns with the Environment Agency (EA) at a question and answer session at the town hall in the wake of the surge.

He was told there were “voids” under the quayside, which the borough council, EA and port authority were aware of, but said he was told “no-one’s got any money” to do anything about them.

“Prime Minister David Cameron is saying money is no object [for flood repairs and defences]. This is obviously preventative maintenance that needs to be done,” he added. “It’s right by the town hall and a major thoroughfare so something serious could happen.”

Gorleston High Street was closed for several days last summer after two sink holes inexplicably opened up in the carriageway, and last week a main road through Lowestoft had to be closed after a 15ft long sinkhole opened up on the A12.

A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the authority was aware of shifts around the paved area of South Quay, but it would be “impossible” to determine the cause and extent of the problem - or to take any action - until an investigation was carried out.

The spokesman said: “It is common for there to be some displacement of soil alongside a quay wall, due to fine material washing through the gaps of the steel piling of the wall as the metal ages.

“It is likely this process was exacerbated by December’s tidal surge, which saw ground water levels rise higher than normal and then fall sharply, carrying material downwards.”

They added: “The maintenance responsibility for various areas and aspects of South Quay is divided up between various different organisations. The council is monitoring the situation and has been in contact with the Environment Agency.”

The EA said it was also aware of the holes under the quayside but had “no concerns” for the flood defences, which it was responsible for, but it would continue to monitor them.


  • Am I right in thinking that theres tunnels going under the river so you can cross from one side to the other and presumably along the sides? Hope they don't collapse

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    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Has the spokesman for Yarmouth council thought of the impact it could have on the Maritime Festival if there is a sink hole or two under the quay, with the heavy footfall across there over two days, how safe would it be for the visitors to it. I for one would like to know it's safe to walk down there before I'd visit it.

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    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Mmmm - a nice big sinkhole, that would solve the problem of what to do with Gt. yarmouth!

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    banned user

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • We can only hope a sink hole opens that is big enough to swallow the town, with some careful back filling from the Caister tip gy could be rebult on more s*** than it is today

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    Paul Morley

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Don't worry if a hole appears the council bureaucrats will spend a lot of time looking into it you can be sure.

    Report this comment

    Carol Barnes

    Friday, February 28, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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