The Sands of Time at Hoylake and Meols.

Witten in February 2013

      If you are aware or unaware Hoylake and Meols have a problem, that if left is going to ruin the coast line of the Wirral that will in time spread from Hoylake and Meols down to Moreton, Leasowe and so on to New Brighton and is already at West Kirby Caldy and Heswall and so on towards Parkgate.

The Problem is Spartina grass  it is now growing from Redrocks beach, past Hoylake beach and is now growning past the life boat station going up towards Meols. I have been out today 10/02/13 and have taken this photo of it now growing almost opposite Firshaw Road. Meols. As you can see below.

Grass by Firshaw

The grass is coming from are seeds that are produced in Parkgate that float on the tide, these seeds are settling at the beach at Hoylake and Meols and germinating in the sand and thus the grass grows.

The migration of seeds from Parkgate has been happening ever since grass has grown there, but it has never started growing at Hoylake, The reason for the grass growing now at Hoylake is due the height of the sandbanks that have been increasing over the years. Lately over the last few years these sandbanks have got to a point where they can support the grass, the sand banks are that high now sometimes the tide does NOT always come in at Hoylake but does come in at Meols, and as the tide does not cover the sand banks these seeds do not get washed away. These are then ideal conditions for the seeds to settle on the damp sand and with the sunlight, its now perfect for the seeds to germinate enabling the grass seeds to grow. It is now February and the grass and seeds are slow growing come spring this year you will see dramatic difference as it will take more control of the beach.

If this grass is left to grow the Hoylake Meols West Kirby Moreton Leasowe beachs will be the same as Parkgate and we will have a mosquito problem and rodent problem in the coming years.

In 2011 I worked in Lower Heswall on a building project, which coincided with the year the local council didn't spray the marsh lands with insecticides due to cost cutting, So in 2011 Heswall had a horrendous Mosquito problem and consequently we were bitten severely by Mosquitoes.

When there is a high tide at Parkgate all the rodents rats, mice, water voles etc come running out the of the march lands and in the local neighbourhood. Rats do carry a deadly disease called Weils disease is a form of a bacterial infection also known as Leptospirosis. It can be caught by humans, through contact with rat urine, most commonly occurring through contaminated fresh water.

So as you can appreciate the grass will grow and the problems WILL come.

Why are the sandbanks rising.

As a child at the age of 13/14 (over 33 years ago) I remember reading in the local paper and watching the construction of boulder being built at the back of Leasowe Golf course (known as Leasowe Bay). The Boulder Islands technical name are Groins, more information on groins click here

Boulder Island

These groins apparently had been researched by the scientists, who were based at Bidston Observatory and had been given the task of bringing back the sand at the coast of the Wirral.

At the that time sand levels had dropped to dire levels due the dredging of sand in the Mersey estuary, This sand had been used for building and had been sold as Mersey Grit to builders yards and to the construction industry throughout the UK. The dredging was done by a ship called the the Hoveringham VI.

I am still looking into who the company was that did this work and why it was stopped ?

Hoveringham ship

What the papers read at the time was the tide was coming in and on its way out the sand was being washed into the Mersey filling the holes at the bottom of the sea bed that was created by the dredging of the Mersey Grit.

The Groins where constructed and dredging was stopped.

Years Ago

I was about 13 / 14 at the time and as a child I remember them being constructed and remember months later, how the sand had increased against the sides of these Groins, It hadn't been a year and the sand levels had increased on the embankment of Moreton shore. I know this as the embankment slope on the sea side went down and at the bottom there was a step. As shown in the diagram below.

The step

This step on the embankment was clearly visible there before the Groins were built and the sand level was about 6 feet below this. For when we walked down them we used to stand on them before the last 6 feet, as the last six feet where mossy and slippy. The sand within a year had increased and was about level with this step.

The odd thing was that the sand has had to come from somewhere?

As the sand built up at The Moreton beach the sand reduced at the Meols and Hoylake beach fronts. I do remember the sand levels at Meols and Hoylake dropping, the sand had moved towards Moreton so quickly that it had taken the sand off these beaches.

It must have been the following year there were reports of sand being taken off beaches as far away north Wales. The sand was shifting all over the place due to the construction of these Groins.

It wasn't anything to do with tides to move this much sand and it all coincided with the construction of these groins at Leasowe Bay.

The Sand

The Sand itself has a unique feature for the sand shifting, It has small grains and floats readily in the sea, and can be move by the current very easily, You can see this by simply looking at the colour of the water, which looks dirty.

There are three reasons for the water looking dirty

  1.  Mud from the land: This is an estuary we do have mud coming in from the land but not a great deal. If there was there would be a high mud deposits on the beach and there isn't one.
  2.  Sewerage: There used to be sewerage going in to the sea, however since the construction of the water Treatment plant at Sandon Docks in Liverpool which is one of the biggest in      Europe which treats the Wirral and Liverpool's sewage and now its all processed and nothing goes into the sea, it's not sewerage.
  3.  The Sand: Small sand grains that float in the sea. If you look at the particles of and that our beach has its very fine and floats in the sea readily.

Therefore the sand is light and can be moved easily by the sea therefore the seas current can shift the sand with ease.

How the tide moves the sand

Meaning of EBB Verb: (of tidewater) Move away from the land

As tides come in towards the Wirral front the water is pushed into the centre of the Wirral due to the ebb flow water of the Mersey and Dee rivers. This then pushes tide and sand into the centre location of the Wirral Beach Front which is Hoylake/Meols as this diagram.
When the tide turns the water ebbs sideways towards the Dee and Mersey rivers creating a U shaped flow of water shown below.

Flow of water

This can been visibly seen ! if you stand at the end of Roman Road, Meols when the tide is out. You can see the marks in the sand from the tide, coming from the Hoylake then passing sideways across Meols then flowing back out towards Southport.
Below is an actual photo i took today showing this U shaped motion on the sea current as it cut into the sand.
(I have merged 4 photos together to show as my lens could not cope with the width of this shot)

U Shaped Marks in Sand

This flow of water carves a 45 degree channels in the sand that point towards Southport as you can see by the photo below

Water flow towards Southpourt

As the water flows out passing the groins at Leasowe Bay it gets restricted by them, however the water will simply flow around it but the sand gets lodged against it. Shown below.

Height of sand at Leasowe Bay

If you look at how high the sand is on the right hand side of the boulder island you will notice that the sand is getting lodged against it. If you look how high it is compaired to the left hand side of the boulder island it is about 6 to 10 feet higher.

The Resulting effects of this are the Hoylake beach front gets the maximum deposit of sand these days creating a massive sand bank. If you think this sand bank will stop here .. the answer is NO

Each and every tide the sand is building up it will not stop, until we do something about it

It will get to a point where you will not see the tide coming in. And there will be a Marsh bigger than the Parkgate's marsh.

The Mersey was dredged by a ship called Hoveringham VI and the sand was used all over the country giving jobs and income to the local area.
We still used sand for construction yet the sand that is used now is dredged at the River Severn .. its dredged there as they have a problem and don't want their river to silt up.
It is dregged by a company called Hanson and by ships such as Arco Avon

Arco Avon Dredging ship

It is brought into Garston Dock in Liverpool and then supplied to the areas construction industry.

How to resolve the grass issue at the coast of the Wirral .

Its not hard how to resolve the increasing sand banks levels that are causing these Spartina Grass to grow

  1. Remove the groins at Leasowe bay
  2. Start dredging the Mersey for sand again.

The problem with not doing this soon is we could get to a point of now return.
If you think about this every time the tide comes in the sand level increases.
I have estimated that the area of sand from Red Rocks to Leasowe Bay is roughly about 7 KM and the distance the sandbank is now out from the beach is 1 KM and the height the sand needs to be reduced by 1M this will give you 7000m x 1000m x 1m = 7,000,000 square Meters of sand that needs to be removed.
Yet every tide the sand levels increase.

So we have a choice leave it and let our beach become a sea march or do something about it NOW ...

If you decide to leave it the sand levels and seeds will move further on down the coast both ways towards West Kirby and towards New brighton .. don't think this is a small problem and don't think this will go away in time its here to stay unless we do somthing about it now .... it your choice ?
As for the dredging the Severn .. we should be using our sand avoiding our problem.

The Council
I have spoken to the council over this many times now and each time i do i get passed from one person to another .. to me no one seems to know who is dealing with this problem and they simply pass you from one person to another, and you will find you end up getting passed back to someone you spoke to earlier.
It needs one person in the council to be positioned with the task at looking at this problem, For it is a problem.
A Team should be set up as soon as possible to tackle this.

I have listened to some people speaking of how this is right for the local area and how it's good for sea birds .. after a while of the grass growing, see how many sea birds arrive then.. not that many .. look at Parkgate for example and see how many birds are there these days .. only a few.
This is our coast line and we want it to stay a beautiful coast line not a mosquito rat infested marsh and we want to see the sea not see it a mile away.

Sometimes you have to laugh !!!
I had to laugh today when I took these photos, when I took this one ..
The council put this telescope here.. maybe they know that this might be the only way you will get to see the Sea in a few years time !!!

Telecsope for seeing the Sea in years to come !!!

The Meeting

It was a great turn out from the people of hoylake on the 21st feb 2012 . This meeting was called by Hoylake Vision

It would help if this information is passed on to further people so that the issue can be widespread & it becomes common knowledgest

If you would like to help, add any news advice or or support our cause please contact us at

Thanks for reading

Author G Limb.

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