East Cliff Work Starts

Land slip at st Mary's church, Whitby''w130816a
Land slip at st Mary's church, Whitby''w130816a
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ARCHITECTS have quashed speculation that historic St Mary’s Church is falling into the sea.

The assurances over the stability of the oldest building in Whitby came as work to stabilise the East Cliff, on which it stands, finally got under way this week.

Engineers have started installing netting and inserting long nails to bolt soil to the cliff.

New drainage tubes will channel water away from the edge of the cliff which is made up of sandstone and clay.

These layers are about 16 metres from the church.

Stephen Calvert of Pearce Bottomley Architects played down the issue of landslips saying “they’ve been going on for centuries”.

He said: “When we had the landslip in December, I think some people were worried that the church was in danger of falling off the cliff – nothing could be further from the truth.

“The rugged face of the outcrop can be clearly seen as you walk the 199 Steps and has changed little in hundreds of years.”

The church was likened to a dish which has been collecting water from the surrounding landscape, which in turn then runs into the sea.

It is that, according to engineers, which has caused soil and loose materials – which has including bones from the churchyard – to slip over the cliff.

Andy Borthwick of Alan Wood Engineers added: “Landslides along the stretch of the East Cliff above Henrietta Street have been well-documented since 1785, with the most recent ones happening in 2000 and 2012.”

Planting will make the soil more secure and flora dislodged in the recent slip will be replaced so that in a few months the churchyard will be restored to its former glory.”

Henrietta Street continues to be at risk and a large crack has this week appeared in the retaining wall behind Fortune’s Kippers.