The problem of coastal erosion has always been important. In 1880 there was a landslip on the North Bay at Scarborough. It was recognized that a great deal of land had gone in 50 years and that this was an area which must be protected because of the "valuable household property" here.
The concern of Mr Thomas Walker prompted the Mercury to write an article on this matter (21 February,1880). The coastal erosion down the coast at Holderness was already widely known. The article noted the Dudes "History of Holderness" which described several villages which had already dissapeared since the time of the Doomsday Book. It stated that:
"Tradition says Hornsea Church was built 10 miles from the sea which has now come within one mile".
Flamborough Head was much less prone to erosion at the time. People were still alive who could remember the Roman paths leading down to the four landing sights. The caves too remained mostly unchanged around Flamborough Head. The chalk cliffs do erode. In the early part of the 21st Century the very photogenic chalk arch way in Thornwick Bay disapeared. But the erosion is at a much slower pace.
The Mercury article mentioned the distance between the Ladies Well in the Castle and the edge of the cliff. This was now twenty yards away whereas it had been twenty five yards away in 1800. That meant that a yard was been lost every 17 years. The article looked forward to some "remote epoch" when the "old rock will be an island".
Things have got better in modern times. The castle has had its walls reinforced to prevent erosion especially over the North Bay. The cliffs on the North Bay are prone to erosion even now. Every few years a portion of the grass pathways slips down. But the pace of erosion is not as fast as in former times.
Attention has switched to down coast. On June 3rd 1993 Scarboroughs best rated hotel, The Holbeck Hall Hotel, started to slide down the hill. TV cameras even caught it on the move. Sea defences costing millions have been added around the whole of the Holbeck Hill area. An information board on Holbeck Hill states that the fall was less due to with coastal erosion. It was more due to soil creep. This causes paths to slide down the hills.
In 2008 fresh landslips have occurred around Cayton Bay. The bungalows built on the old holiday camp at Osgodby Point have started to suffer serious erosion. The cliffs around the Cornelian and Cayton areas are just made of soil. So erosion is to be expected. It may taken time. But there is not much which can be done to prevent the seas moving in.
- 21 February, 1880, The Mercury