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Hurst Castle in need of 'urgent' erosion repairs

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Hurst Castle dates back to the 15th century
Hurst Castle dates back to the 15th century

HERITAGE experts are carrying out “urgent” repairs to the east wing of the landmark Hurst Castle where it is being undermined by coastal erosion.

However, fears that without the work the 15th century building, near Milford, could topple into the Solent were rejected by national conservation agency English Heritage.

The organisation has already carried out extensive work to the west wing battery which was hit by storms and high waves, leading to its closure for a weekend in November 2019.

It has replaced broken groynes and barriers along with replenishing the beach with 7,500 tonnes of shingle. It has also underpinned the west wing’s foundations.

But having finished that work, English Heritage now needs to tackle erosion under the east wing where recent storms have washed away shingle leaving huge gaps below its foundations.

A source who works at the castle said there were “real fears” that if left unrepaired the whole wall of the east wing could disappear into the sea, saying: “It is hugely worrying.”

English Heritage insist this is not the case, however, saying: “While urgent repairs are required to the east wing battery, there is no immediate risk to Hurst Castle.”

Erosion at Hurst Castle (picture: Martin Weston)
Erosion at Hurst Castle (picture: Martin Weston)

It said it is tackling the new damage to the east wing but finding a long-term solution to the harm caused to the castle by coastal erosion is “challenging”.

An English Heritage spokesperson said: “The reality is, because of its very unique location, Hurst Castle will remain vulnerable to the changing natural environment.”

It is currently working with other agencies on a “sea defence programme” to address the long shore drift on the Lymington to Hurst Spit area of the coast.

It said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure that Hurst Castle continues to command the western Solent.”

Worried reader Martin Weston contacted the A&T with photos showing just how extensive the damage to the east wing is.

Mr Weston spotted the damage while out on a walk. He said: “The beach shingle has been scoured from under the castle foundation. If left unchecked this will cause a structural failure of the wall which will collapse under its own weight.

“The incoming and outgoing high tide is now washing directly against the masonry, and if there is any sea running there is a considerable hydraulic action against and under the castle wall.

“I cannot impress enough the urgency of implementation of either temporary or permanent solutions.”

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