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The British Association


    Reports Report of the Committee, consisting of Major-Gen. Sir A. Clark', R.E., C.B., Sir J. N. Douglass, Capt. Sir F. J. O. Evans, R.N., K.C.B., F.R.S., Capt. J. Parsons, R.N., Prof J. Prestwich, F.R.S., Capt. W. J. L. Wharton, R.N., Messrs. E. Easton, R. B. Grantham, J. B. Redman, J. S. Valentine, L. F. Vernon-Harcourt, W. Whitaker, and J. W. Woodall, with C. E. De Rance and W. Topley as Secretaries, appointed for the Purpose of Inquiring into the Rate of Erosion of the Sea-coasts of England and Wales, and the Influence of the Artificial Abstraction of Shingle or other Material on that Action. Drawn up by C. E. De Rance and W. Topley.—The importance of the subject referred to this Committee for investigation is universally admitted, and the urgent need for inquiry is apparent to all who have any acquaintance with the changes which are in progress around our coasts. The subject is a large one, and can only be successfully attacked by many observers, working with a common purpose and upon some uniform plan. The Committee has been enlarged by the addition of some members who, by official position or special studies, are well able to assist in the work. In order fully to appreciate the influence, direct or indirect, of human agency in modifying the coast-line, it is necessary to be well acquainted with the natural conditions which prevail in the places referred to. The main features as regards most of the east and south-east coasts of England are well known; but even here there are probably local peculiarities not recorded in published works. Of the west coasts much less is known. It has therefore been thought desirable to ask for information upon many elementary points which, at first sight, do not appear necessary for the inquiry with which this Committee is intrusted. A shingle-beach is the natural protection of a coast; the erosion of a sea-cliff which has a bank of shingle in front of it is a very slow process. But if the shingle be removed the erosion goes on rapidly. This removal may take place in various ways. Changes in the natural distribution of the shingle may take place, the reasons for which are not always at present understood; upon this point we hope to obtain much information. More often, however, the movement is directly due to artificial causes. As a rule, the shingle travels along the shore in definite directions. If by any means the shingle is arrested at any one spot, the coast-line beyond that is left more or less bare of shingle. In the majority of cases such arresting of shingle is caused by building out “groynes,” or by the construction of piers and harbour-mouths which act as large groynes. Ordinary groynes are built for the purpose of stopping the travelling of the shingle at certain places, with the object of preventing the loss of land by coast-erosion at those places. They are often built with a reckless disregard of the consequences which must necessarily follow to the coast thus robbed of its natural supply of shingle. Sometimes, however, the groynes fail in the purpose for which they are intended—by collecting an insufficient amount of shingle, by collecting it in the wrong places, or from other causes. These, again, are points upon which much valuable information may be obtained. Sometimes the decrease of shingle is due to a quantity being taken away from the beach for ballast, building, road-making, or other purposes. Solid rocks, or numerous large boulders, occurring between tide-marks, are also important protectors of the coast-line. In some cases these have been removed, and the waves have thus obtained a greater power over the land. To investigate these various points is the main object of the Committee. A large amount of information is already in hand, much of which has been supplied by Mr. J. B. Redman, who for many years has devoted special attention to this subject. Mr. R. B. Grantham has also made important contributions respecting parts of the south-eastern coasts. But this information necessarily consists largely of local details, and it has beenthought better to defer the publication of this for another year. Meanwhile the information referring to special districts will be made more complete, and general deduction may be more safely made. As far as possible the information obtained will be recorded upon the six-inch maps of the Ordnance Survey. These give with great accuracy the condition of the coast, and the position of every groyne, at the time when the survey was made.

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