Unseen video footage: The Holbeck Hall landslide 25 years on... by Catherine Pennington
This weekend, it will be 25 years since the Holbeck Hall landslide and, while searching through our archives, we found some unseen video footage taken at the time from an aeroplane (drones hadn't been invented yet). There is no sound and the images are a little hazy due to the weather, but you can get a good idea of the scale of this landslide and some of the damage it caused.
The Holbeck Hall landslide in brief
On the night of 3rd June 1993, a rotational landslide began in cliffs near Scarborough, Yorkshire, that destroyed part of the four star Holbeck Hall Hotel two days later. Fortunately, the hotel was evacuated before anyone was hurt, despite the alleged reluctance of the guests to leave, even when there was "a gaping chasm 10 m from the hotel".
It involved an estimated 1 million tonnes of glacial till that flowed across the beach forming a promontory 200 m wide, projecting 135 m from the foot of the cliff. This famous landslide attracted the attention of the national and international press and has been used to demonstrate landslide processes and slope remediation to schools and university groups ever since.
The coast is a dynamic, ever-changing environment and landslides of this size will have been evolving these cliffs over the last five thousand years or so, when sea level roughly reached its present position. In fact, numerous landslides have been recorded along this section of coast over the last few hundred years. One such landslide (described as an earthquake at the time) took place in December 1737 where an acre of pasture with five cows grazing on it subsided. The cows, apparently unperturbed, were rescued unharmed two days later. You can find out more about landslides along this section of coast, and elsewhere in Great Britain, in our National Landslide Database.
During the development of Scarborough as a seaside resort, the Victorians regraded and landscaped large sections of cliff (including the landslides) to make public areas with gardens and promenades. They also built large hotels and private dwellings in many cliff top areas. Managing this legacy has been the job of Scarborough Borough Council who, along with the North East Coastal Observatory, monitor the cliffs and landslides. They have been assessing and maintaining this coast for decades and much of their work is freely available on their websites, including a great source of data and reports.
Here are some more photos from the BGS archive...
The Holbeck Hall landslide 1993. P707132. BGS Copyright NERC.
The Holbeck Hall landslide. P707131. BGS Copyright NERC.
Holbeck Hall landslide. Wreckage of the Hotel, Scarborough. P509016. BGS Copyright NERC.
Holbeck Hall Hotel landslide, Scarborough - Damage to hotel and gardens. Extensional features and rotated blocks. P509023. BGS Copyright NERC.
Holbeck Hall Hotel landslide - damage to the hotel. P509025. BGS copyright NERC.
Holbeck Hall Hotel landslide - damage to the hotel. P509027. BGS copyright NERC.
Holbeck Hall Hotel landslide - damage to the hotel. P509028. BGS copyright NERC.
The damaged Holbeck Hall Hotel after the landslide. P509209. BGS copyright NERC.
The damaged Holbeck Hall Hotel and landslide. P509030. BGS copyright NERC.
The damaged Holbeck Hall Hotel and landslide 1993. P509049. BGS copyright NERC.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
 Clements, M. (1994). "The Scarborough experience - Holbeck landslide, 3/4 June 1993." Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Municipal Engineer 103(June): 63-70.