Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happisburgh: A View to Die for.

Nigel Cutting looks out of the window of his home while behind him a JCB demolishes a street of houses on Coast road in Happisburgh. 
With every movement of the digger the land beneath him vibrates and shudders.

Happisburgh is falling into the sea. Nothing can stop it now. When the weather is bad chunks of the sandstone rocks are torn away and are eaten by the waves.

When Mr Cutting bought the land ten years ago the cliff edge was 90 feet away. Today it is less than 30 feet down onto the rocks. 

"It's nice living by the sea, but you don't want to live in it" he says.

Most of the other residents on Coast Rd were bought out, but he was refused compensation because according to the North Norfolk Council land that doesn't exist anymore  can't be bought or sold.

You may not have heard of Happisburgh (pronounced Hazeboro) as it sits on the arse end of Eastern England, just in the right place to receive the bad weather and freezing winds that birds migrating from Siberia and the Baltic arrive on. 

Even before it began to fall away it was only a village of a few hundred souls, but  it has often figured large in the history of England.

A few hundred yards behind Mr Cutting's caravan is  St Mary's church which  was built in 1086 by the Norman invaders to keep an eye over the 'wild people' of Norfolk. 

In 1902 Detmar Blow built the country's first Arts & Craft house - Happisburgh Manor in the shape of a butterfly.

In 2010 archaeologists uncovered 800,000 year old flint tools  the earliest evidence of human habitation in Britain.

In time these will also disappear beneath the waves to join the wrecks of the cargo ships  that were sunk During World War  2 when the area was known as 'U Boat Alley'.

Read the full piece by Patrick Barkham of the Guardian here.

Thanks to Candy Sheridan of the Gypsy Council.


  1. Don't believe everything you read in that Guardian article - if he's the 'Last man living on eroding clifftop' it's only because Bryony is female, and the other two properties that didn't take pathfinder money are holiday houses for a family.

    Your photo clearly shows Mr Cutting's caravan is on the road - if he did own any land it has now all gone or any fragments that are left are unsafe - he's on the road or land now owned by the Council. He has been subject to numerous warnings and enforcement notices well preceding the Pathfinder project.

    The Guardian article also fails to mention that his father who did have a legitimate plot beside him was offered and accepted Pathfinder money.

    This is not an issue about being a traveller, or not being able to read and write, but of sour grapes because his land was lost before the Pathfinder project started.

  2. I have recently read your comments on the article of nigel cutting. What this anonymous writer has commented on this such article without knowing the real facts on this issue. The comments of factual knowledge in this matter should not be pubilisise incorrectly in this way on your comments. Therefore this is false knowledge on your behalf as I read this article.