A cliff face on the South Tyneside coast has been restored to its natural state as part of a scheme to improve and preserve access to a seaside beauty spot.
In a complex operation due to its sensitive location, the disused Marsden Lifeguard Station and canoe store that was built into the rockface at Marsden Bay have been carefully removed. The lower section of the Redwell steps access has also been demolished as part of the scheme.
The old lifeguard and canoe store, which was closed many years ago, had been seriously impacted by coastal erosion, leaving the structures an at increasing risk of collapse. And although the Redwell steps had been repaired on previous occasions, the concrete also remained susceptible to further and ongoing natural erosion.
A new set of timber and steel steps will be built next autumn, with the construction scheduled to avoid disturbing birds during the breeding and nesting seasons,
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "The stunning Marsden Bay holds an incredibly special place in the hearts of residents and visitors alike. However, the dilapidated former lifeguard and canoe store building was a real blight on the coastline due to its deteriorated condition and had to be removed on safety grounds.
"While it has been a complex process due to its sensitive location, the demolition marks a key milestone in the wider scheme to improve access to the beach. It's also wonderful to see this beautiful stretch of the cliffs restored back to its original state giving way to further environmental and ecological processes.
"Once constructed, the news steps will be more sympathetic to this coastal environment while providing a safe and more sustainable access to the bay in the future."
The £440,000 project is a partnership between the Council and the National Trust. Earlier this year, partners secured £100,000 towards the project costs, thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund award of £2.78m to the Tyne to Tees, Shores and Seas Partnership Scheme.
The £5m Tyne to Tees, Shores and Seas Partnership Scheme - also known as Seascapes - is the only scheme of its kind to be supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund. Seascapes will help to deliver 23 community projects, both on-shore and beneath the sea - from South Shields to Teesmouth over the next four years.
Eric Wilton, General Manager for the National Trust Souter Lighthouse and the Leas said: "We're delighted to be working with South Tyneside Council to improve and secure long-term access to Marsden Bay. Now more so than ever, access to nature and outdoor spaces is important for the health and wellbeing of communities, and we're committed to ensuring residents and visitors to South Tyneside are able to enjoy the benefits of this special landscape for years to come."
The Redwell route to Marsden Bay remains inaccessible at this time, with visitors advised to use Marsden Grotto steps or the access from Camel Island. Visitors are strongly advised to check tide times and follow advice on staying safe at the seaside before visiting.