Demolition work at erosion cottage

Updated: 

A general view of the cottage at Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex, as work continues to demolish the property due to the continuing erosion of the cliff edge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 7, 2014. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The walls of a former coastguard cottage left teetering on the edge of chalk cliffs have been demolished.

The property is just six inches from the end of the cliff at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, because of fast-paced erosion - and work is being carried out to take it apart before it falls into the sea.

A cherry picker is being used to remove the walls and most of the end-of-terrace cottage is expected to have disappeared by the end of the week.

The privately-owned cottage once formed a terrace of seven ex-coastguard properties, built on the cliff top overlooking the English Channel between 1800 and 1820.

But due to the pace of erosion, two cottages had to be demolished in 1994 and in the early 2000s.

At least three metres of cliff has been lost along that section of Birling Gap in the past four months, according to Wealden District Council.

The contractor carrying out the demolition has said it is not possible to allow the cottage to fall away into the sea naturally because it is attached to other properties and would pose a danger to beach-goers below.

The effects of erosion are clearly visible at Birling Gap, with a huge crack having opened up just yards from the cottages.

The steps below which lead to the beach have also been closed off following recent collapses.

Just last week, two sightseers were pictured standing close to the edge of the cliffs causing Eastbourne RNLI spokesman Bob Jeffery to warn people to steer clear of the crumbling chalk.

Winter storms have caused the kind of damage that the National Trust - which is responsible for this stretch of coastline - was not expecting for years to come.

The trust has previously warned that with more extreme weather predicted, the rate of change on Britain's coastline will speed up.

The National Trust owns more than 740 miles of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, around a tenth of the total coastline for the three countries.

Demolition work at erosion cottage

Demolition work at erosion cottage