Welcome to the Coastal Change Observatory

Unfortunately, the Coastal Change Observatory in Pier Towers is now closed. We are hoping the display will move to the Withernsea Lighthouse Museum.

To observe and inform

The role of the Coastal Change Observatory within the Withernsea Pier Towers is to observe, record and inform people about the comprehensive transformations that have occurred along the Holderness Coast and within the Humber Estuary throughout history. The information, maps and images gathered are then used to inform and educate people to the world of constant evolution that is our dynamic coastline, and to relate how we cope and adapt to this ongoing change.

Coastal Change Observatory, Pier Towers, Withernsea

The Observatory seeks to appeal to three significant cohorts of individuals. Firstly, the residents of the area who are fascinated by the history of their coast, and interested to learn more. Additionally, they may also want to share their experiences and memories of places that they have witnessed suffer the ravages of the North Sea. Thus, the Observatory is an added resource and attraction for households of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Secondly, the many tourists to the seaside resort who may be intrigued why the lighthouse is a third of a mile inland, and may, or may not be aware of the loss of many villages along this stretch of shoreline over the centuries. The Observatory is therefore a resource for a wider region, and adds to the variety of facilities on offer to visitors and so has commercial implications for the town.

The third cohort is important – students working towards qualifications at a variety of levels. Many courses now include coastal change within their curriculum, and the Coastal Change Observatory intends to be fully engaged with this process, both locally and further afield. Throughout the year a myriad of students from all over Britain visit the resort as one of the key locations to study this coastal change. They normally arrive by coach and park near the Pier Towers. It is the Observatory’s intention to cater for these visitors. Therefore, we see the Observatory engaging with a much wider community within the U.K.

The Coastal Change Observatory has a core number of displays that facilitate the above functions. Central to the main theme is the large map of the Holderness coast and the lost villages, with supporting images and facts on either side. There are additional displays on erosion, our attempts at holding back the force of the waves with hard defences and naturally the Withernsea Pier Project, which aims to bring a brand new pier back to the town after a gap of more than a hundred years. As wind power is now a recognised feature of the Yorkshire Coast, there are six mobile displays of how we utilised the wind in times gone by – twenty four images of Holderness windmills. Above the windmills, there is an overhead display of some of the birds to be seen along the Yorkshire Coast. There is always so much to observe on our ever changing sea shore. Development of the displays is ongoing, and it is the Observatory’s intention to regularly alter and augment these core features.

Please use the links below for more information about the Holderness coast: (work in progress)

Lost Villages

Coastal Processes
Humber Bank