A Hemsby man drags his house off a crumbling cliff in Norfolk
A former soldier whose house teetered on the edge of a crumbling cliff saved it from demolition – by pulling the entire building 10 feet out of the cliff.
Lance Martin’s bungalow was on the verge of collapsing after a wave of floodwater and gale force winds removed him just 3 feet from a 50 foot fall.
The former Grenadier Guard lives in the seaside town of Hemsby, Norfolk, which has been hit by severe coastal erosion in recent weeks, forcing residents to evacuate their cliff-side homes.
Previous attempts to move Mr Martin’s home have been unsuccessful and he has been given a “high noon” deadline by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which said his house would be demolished if he made no significant progress by 12pm the next day would do.
But despite the setbacks, Lance refused to give up and rallied a ragtag army of friends, neighbors and contractors to help him pull his home back from the fringes of Wednesday morning.
After toiling all day and getting the swaying bungalow not even an inch off the cliff, nobody was very optimistic.
However, a key breakthrough came after the team discovered that a concrete pad beneath part of the house was impeding movement.
After an excavator lifted a corner of the house, splintering the wooden frame, the team was finally able to break open and remove the obstruction by hand.
They then chained the bungalow to a telegraph pole and attached it to the mighty 13-ton excavator with a thick canvas strap.
Cheered on by a group of observing villagers, the two diggers finally managed to free the house from its concrete foundations around 12:30pm and towed it 3 meters off the cliff to safety – just as the council officer arrived to serve Lance his papers .
Witnessing his triumph, Lance, 65, threw his hands in the air and said: “The impossible has been done… It’s only a miracle.”
“It gave us the breathing space we needed,” the delighted retiree told the Mail.
“Now we’ve shown it can be moved, we can make the right arrangements to move the house across the street once we’ve cleared the site, which hopefully will give me the time I need.”
He added: “These guys were amazing and I’m so grateful to them and the Pines for their help as well as the local lifeboat crew who brought us the telegraph poles. The whole community helped with that.”
Lance said he was determined to continue living in his home with its panoramic views of the North Sea, which he compared this week to the “best infinity pool in the world”.
He said: “I hope it means I can live here for another 20 years. There’s no way I’m going to give up now.
“When you go to bed you can actually hear the sound of the sea through the building. It’s just a fantastic way to live.”
Lance bought his bungalow for £95,000 in 2017 after retiring early from his job as a security guard in Whitehall and selling his flat in Dagenham, Essex.
At the time he had 120 feet between his house and the cliff, which was eroding at a rate of a meter per year, earning him up to 40 years at the site.
But the rate accelerated during its first winter in its new home, and the Beast from the East storm in February 2018 caused about 90 feet of cliff to be washed away in just two nights.
On the second night of mountainous seas he heard a rumble and looked down to see the waves beneath his kitchen floor while his house hung precariously over the edge.
Lance moved into a trailer for eight weeks while the council issued demolition orders requiring his house and a dozen others on the cliff to be torn down lest they fall over the edge.
More than 60 of the roughly 1.5-ton boulders are stacked on top of each other to form a crescent-shaped wall that protects the base of the cliff below his house.
But massive floods two weeks ago washed away sand from the front and back of its rock face, weakening the cliff and making its home even more precarious.
He is adamant that the government will eventually fund a £12million project to build a 1km seawall along Hemsby beach to protect the entire village.
The council this week agreed to install 1,900 tonnes of boulders on the beach near the village’s lifeguard station as an emergency measure to protect the seas.
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/17/hemsby-man-drags-his-home-away-from-crumbling-cliff-top-in-norfolk-18459153/ A Hemsby man drags his house off a crumbling cliff in Norfolk