2018’s Beast from the East and last year’s Storm Darcy eroded the remaining land at an alarming rate, with Lance Martin’s garden collapsing onto the beach below.
Image: Copyright Albanpix.com,)
A defiant ex-soldier living on the edge of a cliff faces having to move his entire house a second time.
When Lance Martin bought his idyllic estate in Hemsby, on the Norfolk coast, just under five years ago, polls told him it would be some 30 years before he had to worry.
But 2018’s Beast from the East and last year’s Storm Darcy eroded the remaining land at an alarming rate, and her garden collapsed onto the beach below.
All of his neighbors were evicted for safety fears, but Lance says he has no intention of leaving his dream home.
The building now stands about 10 meters from the cliff, and that’s after a major operation in which a local farmer lifted it 10 meters inland in May 2018 with an industrial winch.
Lance, a 64-year-old father of one, estimates he has already invested £100,000 to prevent his house, called ‘Dune Fall’, from falling off the cliff, more than the £95,000 he paid for it in 2017.
And within the next two years, he anticipates having to drag or lift his house, which weighs between 40 and 60 tons, across the road using specialized equipment, an operation he calls “Plan Z.”
Despite the amazing and unexpected efforts he has put in, Lance said he has no regrets about moving there.
He told The Mirror: “I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
“I’ve had four years of a fantastic lifestyle around here, and may it continue for a long time. You just have to have a sense of humor about it.”
When Lance moved from London, having bought the frame house despite only visiting Hemsby once, it was one of 13 houses on his side of the street.
Eleven others have since been demolished, while the only other surviving house has been empty since 2018.
The former Grenadier of the Guards, who resigned from the army in 2000 and worked in the Education Department for more than 15 years, said: “The rate of erosion was considered to be around one meter per year, which would have given me from 30 to 40 years. , but then the Beast from the East hit me around 30 to 40 meters from the back.”
Lance teamed up with volunteer lifeguards to reinforce the defenses by lining up rocks on the beach below using a JCB, but now faces having to do it again after recent storms.
Last week the worst was feared when strong winds hit the coast. “It’s worrying, I get a little stressed,” she said. “What I usually do is have a portable searchlight, I leave it on so I can see my defenses and check they’re okay.
“Once I am sure that nothing too serious is going to happen, I go to bed, I sleep very well, believe me.
“I did everything in my power to mitigate any damage, so if it’s not enough, it’s all my fault.”
Lance said he hoped vital coastal defense work that cost an initial £9m might save him from having to move his house a second time, but now he’s resigned to having to.
The drastic move will be made by dragging the building using an RSJ grid or a huge crane that would lift the premises, and is expected to cost up to £10,000.
He estimates that he will then be 60 meters from the edge of the cliff.
“If you watch some of these shows from Alaska and Canada, every day they move buildings bigger than mine,” he said.
“Where there is a will, there is a way.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.