Constructed c1930/33 costing £360,000

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

In 1928 the parish of Rottingdean was incorporated into Brighton. In order to protect its new coastline, which had increased from 2.2 to 5.4 miles, and also to safeguard the vital intercepting sewer, the county borough council embarked on a great scheme to protect the cliffs to the east of Black Rock , a project that also enabled Marine Drive to be constructed. The result was the Undercliff Walk , a sea-wall at the base of the cliffs designed by borough engineer David Edwards. It was constructed in 1930-3 at a cost of £360,000, and used some 13,000 tons of cement, 150,000 concrete blocks, and 500 men at a time of severe depression, although there was controversy over the ‘importation’ of Welsh miners to do skilled rock work.
The walk was formally opened from Black Rock to Rottingdean , about 2.3 miles, on 4 July 1933 by Minister of Health Sir Hilton Young at Ovingdean Gap. The extension to Saltdean Gap was formally opened by the mayor, Edward Denne, on 29 July 1935 at the same time as the Rottingdean swimming-pool which was built to replace bathing facilities lost to the sea-wall. A sea-water pool 100 feet by 35 feet, it has few facilities but occupies a wonderful location below the cliffs. In 1989 it was privately managed, but the storms of January 1990 caused £100,000 worth of damage and the pool is in danger of permanent closure.
The last 200 yards of the sea-wall to the borough boundary opened a few months later, and a 310-yard extension by Chailey Rural District Council was opened in 1963.
The Undercliff Walk is now 3.35 miles long, part of a 7.5 mile promenade from Portslade to Saltdean. It is between 8 and 35 feet wide, 10 feet above high water, and is itself protected by about 67 groynes. Access to the beaches and rock pools may be had along its length. Access to the Undercliff Walk itself may be had at Black Rock , Roedean Cafe, Ovingdean Gap, Rottingdean Gap and Saltdean Gap, but care must be taken as rock falls occasionally occur, especially after heavy rain; it should not be used at all during rough weather. Great damage to the Walk was caused by the storms of February 1990, causing certain sections to be closed off, and a £7 million repair scheme has commenced.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above: 2,26,116,123,201

Comments about this page

  • The swimming pool at Rottingdean was indeed closed and removed. For a decade or so it was just a large open concrete pavement, but in October 2014 it was replaced by a games court, called ‘Connors Court’.  The court is dedicated to Connor Saunders, a popular 19 year old who died in 2012 in Rottingdean, and it is a tribute to his life and love of football. For the full story of the court there is now a booklet which can be downloaded here.

    By Steve Wedd (31/08/2015)

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