Defiant ex soldier whose clifftop home is falling into the sea

Defiant ex soldier who was refusing to abandon his clifftop home that was feet away from falling into the sea is finally forced to leave after nearby road crashed on to the beach below

  • Lance Martin, 64, had previously vowed to stay ‘come what may’ at his home
  • But the dangers of coastal erosion have become evident and he must move out

A defiant former soldier living on a cliff edge was forced to leave his home today as the encroaching sea brought the road by his house dramatically crashing into the waves.

Former Grenadier Guard Lance Martin, 64, had previously vowed to stay ‘come what may’ at the scenic £95,000 Norfolk retirement property he bought in 2017.

But today’s dramatic developments graphically demonstrated the rapidly increasing pace of coastal erosion.

Mr Martin was joined by friends and neighbours in Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth, desperately trying to salvage valuables from his home as the unrelenting waves crashed on the beach below.

His garden shed, just next to the house, teetered precipitously on the edge as heavy winds and high tides threatened to engulf the structure.

His garden shed pictured here just next to the house, teetered precipitously on the edge

The road stretching away from Mr Martin’s home is also eroded 

Mr Martin pictured moving out of his Norfolk home

And a stretch of roadway leading south from his property along the coast was rendered impassable by a landslide.

In 2018 Mr Martin was able to drag his wooden property named ‘Dune Fall’ away from the coast, using heavy machinery, and now he knows his only chance to save it means having to do the same again.

But having lost 4m to the sea in just the last weekend, time, tide – and the odds – are mounting against him.

He was one of five residents of The Marrams in Hemsby to be evacuated last Thursday, after a 3.5-metre tide threatened their homes once again.

Now he says he wants to drag it back a further 40 metres with a tractor, after several neighbouring homes were demolished last weekend.

But Great Yarmouth Borough Council had earmarked his one-bedroom, chalet bungalow home for demolition.

He purchased the house for £95,000 in 2017 and insisted he could stand on its roof and still not see the sea when he first moved in.

He says he was told by a surveyor to expect 3ft of dune loss each year due to erosion, but revealed he lost almost 100ft alone during the Beast from the East storm in 2018.

Each of his neighbours have been evicted from their adjacent properties amid safety fears, but Mr Martin has always insisted he has no intention of leaving his dream home.

His previous plan to move the house inland cost him £100,000 and he put his own makeshift coastal defences on the beach below, with concrete blocks, but today those appeared to have little effect as the road beyond his house fell into the sea.

Mr Martin has previously said he has no regrets about his purchase, having relocated from London, and said he would ‘do it all again at the drop of a hat’.

He added: ‘I’ve had four years of a fantastic lifestyle around here, and long may it continue. You just have to have a sense of humour about it.’

Mr Martin’s house and sheds pictured before the conservatory and shed (top middle) fell onto the beach below

Mr Martin pictured moving out of his home on Dune Falls

READ MORE HERE: Defiant former soldier who refuses to abandon his clifftop home plans to use machines to lift the entire property out of harm’s way as sea edges ever closer


As he and his neighbours feared the worst today, he declined to comment but kept smiling as he emptied the property of belongings and made preparations to literally ‘move house’ once again.

The wooden property weighs between 40 and 60 tonnes.

Mr Martin served in the Grenadier Guards from 1978 to 2000 and moved to the coast after he retired from his security job and sold his flat in Dagenham, east London.

He has previously said the local lifeboat crew offered to help him rearrange his 75 two-tonne concrete block sea defences, which are intended to break the force of the waves, but have become buried by the sand.

The strong winds brought by storms Malik and Corrie brought further concern for Mr Martin last week, who has installed a portable floodlight to ensure he can keep an eye on his sea defences.

While he has done ‘everything within my power to mitigate any damage’, he has become resigned to the prospect of having to move his home a second time.

The project, named ‘Plan Z’, would see the property dragged using a huge crane at a cost of up to £10,000.

It is hoped it would then be up to 60 metres away from the edge of the cliff.

As the frantic efforts to save Mr Martin’s house continued, for one of his neighbours, former pub landlady Mandy Jephcote, it was already too late.

She watched in horror as her dream retirement home was demolished on Sunday, not long after she was evacuated on Friday night.

Now being housed in temporary accommodation a few miles away in Caister-on-Sea, mother-of-three Mandy, 58, said she hardly had time to salvage valuables before she was given the order to evacuate.

‘We got a few things out on Saturday but I’m partially sighted and my head wasn’t in the right place,’ she said.

‘My niece and I went back on Sunday morning to get some more items, but when we got there, I saw the massive digger wrenching the roof off with its hydraulic claw. I was in tears.

‘Everything I had was in that house, and I don’t have anything now. It just feels such a violation and I cannot see why they couldn’t have waited a few more hours.’

Her menagerie of dogs, cats and chickens were farmed out to friends and relatives for the time being, and today she was trying to make the best of her situation in a temporary unfurnished bungalow a few miles down the coast.

‘I don’t know where I’m going to go now, I’ve got nothing left,’ she said.

Mandy paid £75,000 for the two-bedroomed bungalow three years ago and envisaged growing old and enjoying views of the North Sea.

But since then she has watched in horror as her front garden slowly slipped into the sea as her home has inched closer and closer to the cliff edge.

Now her wooden bungalow has been rendered worthless.

Only two weeks ago she stood in the garden and told MailOnline how she had always wanted to retire to the ‘Marrams’ – as the clifftop community in Hemsby is known.

Pictured here is the shed that is teetering on the edge of collapse

She explained: ‘I used to bring my three daughters to Hemsby when they were little. In fact it was the only place we ever went on holiday. So it was always my dream to have a house on the Marrams.

The fast-moving events in Hemsby came as dozens of families on the east coast of England could be forced to abandon their homes as coastal erosion threatens to doom their properties to the sea.

A recent report by climate group One Home estimated that coastal homes in England worth a total of £584million could be lost to cliff collapses by 2100.

The report accounts for 2,218 homes across 21 coastal communities that have been brought closer to crumbling cliffs over the years.

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