Happisburgh’s defiant clifftop dweller moves out in the face of latest erosion

Bryony Nierop-Reading checks the damage to the cliffs at the bottom of her garden after an earlier storm .
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Bryony Nierop-Reading checks the damage to the cliffs at the bottom of her garden after an earlier storm . PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Friday, December 6, 2013
2:37 PM

Defiant clifftop dweller Bryony Nierop-Reading has finally said goodbye to her idyllic seaside home at Happisburgh.

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Bryony Nierop-Reading at her Happisburgh home. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYBryony Nierop-Reading at her Happisburgh home. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The 68-year-old has been a figure of stoic, stubborn resistance in the face of erosion eating away the cliffs near her Beach Road home.

She has refused offers of compensation, choosing instead to stay in the chalet home with stunning sea views she bought five years ago.

But the latest surge has finally persuaded her to abandon house, as a lean to part of her home began to dangle over the edge.

She said: “With much sadness I have accepted I must lose my much-loved cliff-top house.”

In recent months the rate of erosion accelerated. A few days ago part of the home was 1m from the clifftop. The battering from the latest storm had however taken away another chunk of cliff.

“I am aware of the encroaching danger to my house and have reluctantly had to accept North Norfolk District Council’s view that I should plan for demolition in the near future.

“I was in the process of negotiating with the council for me to carry out the demolition myself over the next two years, which would have lessened the pain for me,” she said.

The recent cliff fall had however forced a “rapid rethink.”

She has relocated to a loaned caravan, and was looking at moving to another mobile home - but remaining at Happisburgh.

“It is sad, and I am still shell-shocked,” said Mrs Nierop-Reading.

Her home is called Felicity - which means happiness - and she said she had spent an “incredibly happy” five years in the chalet.

“I have loved every minute of it. I bought the house knowing that it was going to go one day. I’ve no regrets. People say ‘You threw away £53,000’but I just reply: ‘Look at the £1m view I have had for the past five years. It’s magical living on the edge of a clifftop – the sea, the skies, the gulls – and I’m just jolly grateful.”

It used to be among a row of homes on Beach Road, which have been demolished over the years before they tumbled over the crumbling cliff.

She remained “very anxious” about the trend towards losing land to the sea under current government policies. She felt she could have had another 15 years in her home if sea defences had been maintained.

Coastal erosion could be slowed down – but there seemed to be no political will.

“Many people have told me that they see my house as a symbol of defiance against impossible odds. Now my house has to go but the fight to save our country from the invading sea has to go on,” she said.

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