Hallsands — hype and facts

When BBC first broadcast the superb ‘Coast’ programme, which did much to portray the value and wonders of our coastline, they included the story of Hallsands, that delightful Devon Village destroyed in 1917 by dredging. (See Marine Aggregate Dredging : Briefing Paper, the scientific paper Why are our Beaches eroding? and ‘Historic Evidence’ in this document.)

Hallsands was the very first case evidencing the erosion resulting from offshore dredging, and that initial BBC TV programme accurately portrayed it as such. But when ‘Coast’ was repeated, all mention of the cause of the village destruction was surgically removed and replaced by a new ‘sanitized’ version cutting out all mention of the factual cause and blaming the loss exclusively on a sudden overnight storm.

MARINET protested at this attempted change of the historical facts, and complained to the programme creators, the editors and the BBC Watchdog, pointing out that the very intent of the programme should be to provide a factual presentation so as to act to safeguard our coastline for the future and to make people aware of such threats to it. We also asked if the removal of the information of the fundamental cause was due to pressure placed upon them by those who financially benefit from marine dredging. But, despite our complaints the following two repeats of the ‘Coast’ programme continued to give the misinformation, so further protests were sent.

This obviously paid off, as following on from these, we were delighted to see that the original true version of the cause of the demise of Hallsands was finally replaced into the very latest repeat, broadcast in late February 2008. We have written to the BBC to thank them for rectifying the situation.

The truth is also to be seen on the BBC website at www.bbc.co.uk/devon/outdoors/coast/hallsands.shtml and at www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/southwest/series1/hallsands.shtml as with that below.

Hallsands – Kingsbridge, Devon


View of HallsandsThe once thriving fishing community of Hallsands on the south Devon coast was washed away one night in 1917. It wasn’t decades of erosion that led to the end of this village, but just one spectacular storm. It had been withstanding weather of this force for centuries, but in its final decades Hallsands had been robbed of its beach and left defenceless by intensive dredging.

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