The National Trust has demolished part of the Birling Gap Hotel after storms caused the equivalent of seven years of erosion to the cliffs.

The popular sun lounge and ice cream parlour have been dismantled at Birling Gap after becoming dangerously close to the disappearing cliff face.

Jane Cecil, the trust’s general manager for the South Downs, said the speed of the erosion had taken them by surprise leaving them “no option” but to remove the buildings.


She said: “We knew it would happen eventually and we plan for this. However, the speed of the erosion in recent weeks has taken us by surprise.

"We’ve had about seven years worth of erosion in the last couple of months.

"During the strong winds and storms at the weekend we lost part of the roof to the sun lounge.

"That accelerated us in terms of taking the structure down. We also took the ice cream parlour down. It is sad because the views from the sun lounge were spectacular.”

The trust’s buildings along the isolated cliff top are all designed to be dismantled so they can be erected further back inland when needed.

However, such was the damage to the sun lounger that it has now been scrapped. The main building and cafe still remain.

She added: “We have to think about the long term. This isn’t just about next year but about ten, 15, 20 years down the line.”

The steps down to the beach at Birling Gap are also out of action after huge waves pounded the bottom section.

With what appears to be a break in the weather the Diocese of Chichester has called on worshippers to pray for all those who have been affected by the flooding.

The joint message from Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester and Reverend Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, also called on congregations to give their Sunday collection money to those in need.