Facts and Figures

Wansbeck District Council


Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

Westminster Dredging Company Ltd

Newbiggin Bay Coastal Protection Scheme

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea is a small town in Northumberland, on the North Sea coast. Over the years it has been an important port for shipping grain, and a coal mining town. In Victorian times, Newbiggin was Northumberland's favourite seaside town, attracting hundreds of visitors every day in the summer months.

In more recent times, falling beach levels and increased risk of seawall failure prompted a strategy and subsequent design to import beach material, combined with the construction of an offshore breakwater to retain the newly enhanced beach.  

Work commenced with the construction of the breakwater, firstly laying a geotextile fabric before placing the rock core. The project included for the sculpture ‘Couple’ (two 5m high bronze figures) to be mounted on a steel piled structure, incorporated into the body of the breakwater. The foundations and receiving piles were laid during low waters whilst placing the rock core. 3.9m³ Coreloc (concrete armour) units were then placed as the upper armour layer, with a 5 tonne rock armour toe. Altogether 60,000 tonnes of rock and concrete armour were used to build the offshore breakwater. 300,000m³ of beach recharge was then dredged and pumped ashore, in just 3½ weeks, by the 15,000m³ Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger, ‘Oranje’.

The vessel won sand from a licensed area near Skegness, before linking up to a 1½km pipeline running into the bay at Newbiggin.   With the foundations of the piled structure stable within the breakwater core, the upper section of the structure was then placed, with the legs rising at an angle to accommodate a deck on which to mount the sculpture. The figures were carefully lifted into place using the ‘Strekker’, before being permanently bolted on to their new home looking out to the North Sea.