Whitby houses latest: Demolition to start on Saturday

The houses in Whitby which will be knocked down Credit: John Giles/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Work to demolish a row of cottages overlooking an historic North Yorkshire harbour after a landslide left them in danger of collapse will be "a long, laborious task", according to engineers.

Preparatory work began on Thursday to knock down five homes at Aelfleda Terrace in Whitby, which are precariously balanced above the River Esk. But contractors said it will tomorrow morning (Saturday) before the buildings themselves come down.

The gardens and patios in front of the 150-year-old terrace slid 30ft down towards the harbour in the early hours of Tuesday. And the slope has continued to move since, with a block of rock and earth the size of a minibus crashing into the next row of houses down.

Scarborough Council says it has been left with no choice but to demolish the five former Whitby jet workers' cottages.

Work around the houses continued to prepare for the demolition, including an attempt to fell a 40ft willow tree which was causing concern. Contractors also began work to lay a temporary aluminium road across fields near Whitby's famous abbey. This will be used to bring in heavy plant, including a cherry-picker.

Yorkshire Water's manager of community engagement, Richard Sears, visited the scene on Thursday and confirmed there was an ongoing legal dispute with the residents of the terrace. Mr Sears said this was to do with drainage issues. But he said he was "not going to jump to conclusions" about what happened. He said it was possible, given the devastation, that the cause of the landslip may never be known.