I moved into my current home some 13 years ago, as an antidote to the rush and bustle of my previous life as a printer, innovator in small manned and unmanned submersible technology, Martham parish councillor, self-employed IT engineer and some-time dep, soundman and roadie for the pro band Egypt Blues
When I moved here, coastal erosion was not made a ‘big thing’, although I did seek professional help from some Hydrographers that I knew from my career and asked their opinion on the level of erosion and how this would affect me. Bearing in mind that, at the time, there was a large sand dune in front of my house and then the beach, which was very much wider than it is now. In fact, you could not see the sea at all except through some gaps where people had worn paths through the dunes to access the beach. The indication that I received was that this part of The Marrams should be OK for about 100 years.
On the opposite side of the road, there were houses that fronted the road and had the dune behind them, which gave shelter from the harsh Easterly winds but the dune went and shortly afterwards the houses followed. I can remember an old lady who lived in a white chalet just down the road, on the opposite side from me, she looked so frail and it is very sad that all of that is gone now.
I still love living here for the simple tranquillity of the place – looking out over the sea will make anyone feel peaceful. Being a private person at heart, despite playing the drums in many rock bands since I was 12- 13 years old and being on stage, this gives me the opposite of being on show and coming back to my home allows me peace and quiet. With it being a dead-end road, there is very little traffic passing my front door aside from a few people walking past.
A lot of my life was spent in or on the sea, travelling around the world working and training people on the submersibles that helped the oil and gas explorations, divers to lay pipelines and, with the advent of the internet, laying and maintaining fibre optic marine cables. There was a push, at the time, to try and remove divers from the risks of entering the sea, which is an inherently dangerous environment and I helped to develop submersible ‘Remote Operated Vehicles’ or ROV’s. As a development from building one man and two man submersibles, originally these early versions were Observation ROVs to help view and guide divers. This then developed into what are called Work Class ROVs, able to do more or less the same things that the divers could do. That is where I came in as these things needed to be designed and built combining electronics, hydraulics, mechanics and,(in those days!) 8 Bit computer programming, to enable the remote controlling from on board a vessel via communications along an umbilical cord tether.
At the time, I worked for a company based in Great Yarmouth which was awarded the Queens Award for Technological Achievement. And on the back of this, rubbed shoulders with Mr James Bond himself, Roger Moore, as we were employed to help with the filming of one of our Mantis manned submersible in the battle scene in “For your eyes only” at Pinewood Studios. Not as glamorous as you may think! We were in a large warehouse or sound stage, with a huge heated pool that had filming windows in the side of it. As the condensation from the pool hit the cooler roof, it came down like rain. We spent 3 weeks working with the film crew and the submersibles, sitting underneath a covering of plastic to try and keep the equipment dry for a scene that lasts a couple of minutes on screen. It has to be said, that Roger Moore had a special sub built for his scenes, which were filmed from the outside and not in the pool, so he did not get wet at all. We did have an invite to a private viewing and a thank you from Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli himself, so it was not all bad.
If I had the opportunity to speak to the people in Government responsible, my message would be:
“We are people living here – not numbers, generated by an out-of-date algorithm, on a sheet of paper, that decides our future”
I would then remind them that, when we moved in we were told we were safe, and dispute the awful people who just say “well, you should not have moved into those beach huts!” These are not beach huts, or sheds or any other derogatory terms used, but people’s homes. We are a collection of people with unique stories, and talents from Builders to Sculptors from Website Developers to Mechanics.
Hemsby and the surrounding villages contribute £115 million pounds in revenue, which the government clearly does not need, given their attitude towards helping protect our coastline.