Rhyl coastal defences


Rhyl coastal defences

From the moment it began to develop as a town, Rhyl has depended on good coastal defences. Much of the town is lower than the level of high tide, so a breach of the sea wall could be catastrophic for local residents and businesses.

Rhyl Urban District Council organised construction of new sea defences at the end of the 19th century. In January 1899 the Rhyl Journal reported that recent storms had demonstrated the sea defences’ value, because without them “serious damage would have been done to the old defences”.

In December 1899 a Japanese resident of Rhyl, Tozoko Koyama, was stopped by a policeman while pushing a cart loaded with six larch poles and a spruce plank – which he freely admitted he had stolen from the site of the east-end sea defence works. He was arrested, and his English wife later explained that his mental health had been affected by a sunstroke. He was sentenced to a month in prison with hard labour, partly because he had previously stolen cabbages.

Some properties in Rhyl were affected by the tidal surge in 1990 which left c.6,000 people temporarily homeless, mostly to the west of the river Clwyd.

Work began in 2009 on designing new defences for west Rhyl, where more than 2,000 residential and 560 commercial properties were at risk of tidal flooding. Construction began in May 2011. By then, some of west Rhyl’s historic defences were 110 years old. Even the newest were c.60 years old. The new structures are designed to withstand a high tide and storm of such exceptional force that it would only be expected to occur once every 200 years. The designs also took into account the expected rise in sea level over the following century.

The £10m project was overseen by Denbighshire County Council and funded by the Welsh Government and European Union.

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