The Littlehaven sea defence was part of a major civil engineering scheme to replace the original seawall, which was protruding seawards at its centre, leaving it susceptible to structural damage and wave overtopping.
The challenge for the project team was to provide an effective coastal defence which could offer long term protection, whilst transforming the beach, promenade and sea defences along a stretch of South Shields seafront and turning the neglected length of coastline back into a desirable visitor destination.
When Aggregate Industries was asked to deliver a cost effective, long-lasting and aesthetically pleased solution for the seawall at Littlehaven, it proved the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the flexibility and diversity of our decorative concrete ranges.
Concrete was the obvious solution for this unique project. It delivered durable, cost effective long term protection against coastal erosion, whilst providing a functional solution for South Tyneside Council’s brief.
To fulfil the design ambition to create a more aesthetically pleasing seafront, we specified our Artivia Exposed range for the walkway and slab areas along the promenade, and selected Artivia Colour for a decorative finish on the seawall and steps. The concrete and Artivia Exposed and Colour ranges were sourced locally from our high capacity Gateshead plant, which ensured on-time, efficient delivery of the products.
We utilised bespoke, decorative Ure Valley gravel aggregates that were exposed in the surface of the concrete. We also created two bespoke colour shades using an integral colour additive for the Artivia Colour to complement and blend in with the existing environment, thus creating the illusion of a transitional landscape. To protect and preserve this bespoke two tone colour effect and the appearance of the exposed Artivia Exposed aggregate, we also sealed the surface using a clear sealer.
Another unique element to this project was the desire from the project team to achieve pre-cast quality finish using concrete cast in-situ. As a result, we brought techniques and processes directly out of the factory and on to the site, including specialist concrete finishers and acid etching. Performing these processes in-situ helped us to create a high quality end product, whilst also offering a cost effective solution.
The test of the Tyne
The newly constructed seawall faced its first rigorous test of the elements during the North Sea storm surge, which caused destruction across the North East Coast in December 2013. The storm bestowed the highest tide observed by the River Tyne gauging station, higher than the 1953 coastal surge, which also ravaged the coastline.
Despite these extreme conditions, Littlehaven’s new concrete seawall withstood a severe battering, with water levels reaching half-way up the stepped apron, and some breaking water and spray up to the promenade level. This outstanding performance and protection far exceeded the project team’s original expectations, further emphasising the strength, durability and long-tern effectiveness of concrete, even on a grand scale such as this project.
The overall result was a new defence configuration featuring a stepped concrete apron leading to beach level, a wide promenade and a backing flood wall. Collectively these provided a wider sea defence system than the original vertical seawall, while the curved formation reduced the risk of overtopping to protect South Shields’ frontage from coastal erosion and sea flooding.
South Tyneside Council
- Visual and aesthetic surface course
- High performance