Incredible footage shows 1870s Birling Gap hotel being deconstructed in coastal erosion move

Watch: drone footage of the delicate reconstruction programme as costal erosion threatens the safety of the Victorian hotel

Incredible drone footage shows how teams are working metres away from the edge of a cliff to reconstruct part of a Victorian hotel.

The front of the Birling Gap hotel, near Beachy Head, in East Sussex risked being swept out to sea because of coastal erosion.

National Trust, who use the building as a café and visitor centre, are moving the public facilities to the rear of the site because of the changing nature of the cliff face.

Workers started the delicate demolition programme towards the end of 2023 as the white cliffs edged ever closer to the 19th century structure.

It's a delicate job for reconstruction team Credit:

Dr John Barlow from the University of Sussex says the coastal cliff is the eroding quicker than elsewhere on the Sussex coast,

"Birling Gap has a distinction of being the most rapidly eroding section of coastal cliff in the Sussex coast.

"This is because of a very long geological story. The rock there was very fractured during the last glacial stage and it was subjected to intense glacial processes, physical weathering.

"If you go and stand on the beach at Birling Gap and look at the rock face, you'll see you have chalk on either side.

"In the gap itself, we have a very fractured rock and that's what makes it so vulnerable to these storm waves coming up the English Channel and that's why we have such rapid erosion."

Watch: Dr John Barlow explains why the risk of the coastal erosion could reduce as time goes on

The hotel at Birling Gap is made of a number of different blocks which were were built between 1878 and 1909.

While part of the building has been affected by nature's powerful force, the earliest part of the hotel remains intact.

National Trust says it carries out a lot of planning future to manage the effects of changes in the coastline.

A spokesperson for the organisation said, "Through the course of last year we’ve been moving our café and visitor centre to the rear of the building, this is part of our strategy to adapt to coastal change.

"As the cliffs move back – so do we – allowing us to continue to welcome visitors to the café for as long as possible. We are now taking down the front section of the building, what was the old café, so that the rest of it is kept safe from future storms and cliff erosion.

"We are buying ourselves some time. This smaller building should last another 5-10 years before we have to consider taking down the rest." 

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