Stanley High School pupils question the "green beach"

We were at the school today to talk about council issues and how Sefton works as part of learning about democracy.  One of the most frequent questions from different pupil groups was about the condition of the beach.

Over the years there has been a lot of talk about how the beach has changed and demands that the council should do something to stop the "green beach" happening.

The truth is that the current changes affecting the beach are nothing new - the sea has been receding for generations leaving muddy deposits behind.  At one time, the high tide mark was where Lord Street stands today.  Boats were moored where the now-closed Shelbourne Hotel once stood. In earlier days, there were flourishing boat building enterprises in Crossens but within just 10 years things had changed so much that there were no water channels and it all stopped.

Here's extracts from the Southport Visiter in 1937 reporting a talk given by the town's Borough Engineer Mr A E Jackson at a meeting of local estate agents, when he posed the question as to whether or not further "attempts should be made to take Southport to the sea" by reclaiming former beach land.

"The policy of the Corporation has been to enclose parts of the foreshore as it rises in level and this policy of reclamation appears inevitable," he said, refering to the continuing problem growth of salt marshes (the same green beach issue we have today)

Mr Jackson explained that the rising level, or accretion, of the beach meant that "the sea recedes slowly ..with the result that the suspended silt is deposited, causing the unsightly mud which is so disagreeable"

Back in the late 1800s, Southport Corporation did what they could, said Mr Jackson, to stop the movement of channels which affected the beach and created mud deposits and salt marsh areas, but "unsuccessfully".   He recalled that in 1890 "Passenger steamers then plied from the end of the pier.  Now the whole of the low water channel by the pier has gone. There has been an average rise in the level of the sand for the nine years 1924 to 1933 of over 3 feet."

Mr Jackson explained that over the years "troublesome" mud flat areas of the beach had been reclaimed and developed as the sea receeded.  This policy led to the creation of: Victoria Park (1890), Marine Drive(1895), Marine Lake South(1887) and Marine Lake North (1892), Kings Gardens (1913), Prince's Park (1914). About 1880, the North Promenade was extended to include area of the beach on which now stand the roads between Avondale rd and the Promenade.  Likewise, the Municipal Golf Course was extended onto reclaimed beach land in 1932.

The only practical solution adopted by previous generations, who were faced with the same problems that we have with the beach today, was to, in effect, take Southport closer to the sea and therefore nearer to the golden sands beyond the mud flats by reclaiming the foreshore. But this is impractical today for a number of reasons.  Apart from the enormous cost,  there are flooding risks because sea levels are forecast to rise as global warming continues.

It's sad to see the state of parts of our beach, but this is a natural process which affects many other seaside areas.  But the rising level of the beach creates a natural defence against the worst impact of high tides and flooding which can be just as effective as building bigger and bigger sea wall defences.  The waves lose their impact as the green beach is higher and you can see this yourself in the salt marsh areas off Crossens and Marshside. This reduces flooding risk to our town.