Fears for the possible loss of a pub to coastal erosion have encouraged punters to donate to a desperate bid to build sea defences. 

Over the four days of a beer festival at the Hill House Inn, a 16th century listed pub in Happisburgh, visitors gave more than £400 to local campaigners who are living on the frontline of a losing war against the waves. 

The group, known as Save Happisburgh, is planning to spend the money on enough rocks to reinforce the erosion-threatened cliff which protects the pub itself, as well as the neighbouring Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Manor House. 

Campaigners said once customers realised that, without cliff defences, the pub and garden would go  - and there would be no more beer festivals - they "gave generously".

Happisburgh has been hit hard by coastal erosion. Happisburgh has been hit hard by coastal erosion. (Image: Mike Page)

The fundraising effort follows North Norfolk District Council's announcement it had no plans to build new sea defences to protect the crumbling coastline.

In January, the council said the existing rock armour on the beach was only meant to slow down the rate of erosion and “buy time” for the village, but investing in new defences was “not realistically feasible” due to affordability.

In February, works to build rock defences at Cromer and Mundesley got under way - prompting people in Happisburgh to say they had been “betrayed” by the government after being "snubbed" of £25m of new sea defences for north Norfolk.

Bryony Nierop-Reading in Happisburgh. Her house is next in line to be lost to the sea. Bryony Nierop-Reading in Happisburgh. Her house is next in line to be lost to the sea. (Image: Denise Bradley) READ MORE: 'Worst kind of defeatism' - Pub landlord slams call to move businesses into trailers

Save Happisburgh member Bryony Nierop-Reading, whose Beach Road home is next in line to be lost to the sea, said it was a "bitter irony" that Environment Agency funding recently announced for sea defences from Happisburgh to Winterton applies only onward from Cart Gap, where there is already a concrete sea wall.

"This leaves us with nothing at all to help us, again," she said. 

"We see more money being spent on Cromer and Mundesley but Happisburgh gets nothing."

Accelerated rate of erosion

The rate of erosion at Happisburgh is happening at twice the rate projected, leaving homes, businesses and the village’s clifftop car park at serious risk of falling into to the sea. 

Over the next 100 years, it is predicted that more than 1,000 homes will be lost to erosion in north Norfolk.  

Low-level sea defences were constructed along the north Norfolk coast between the 1950s and 70s, but they were only designed with a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. 

However, by 2009 the defences were in a state of decay. 

The ramp down to Happisburgh beach was reopened around Easter this year after being closed since December following after storm tides, heavy rain and high winds eroded the base of the access route.