The trouble with the rubble

Beach rubble formby
Published : 19 Sep 2017 Last update : 26 Sep 2017

Due to wave action, rubble buried inside the dunes near to the car park, is often seen on the beach. Every year, the National Trust puts a lot of money and resource into managing this rubble. But how did it get into the dunes in the first place?

Originally, it formed part of Harrington Barracks, that were built at Formby Point back in the 1940s.  Infantrymen of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool) who went through basic training here took part in the D-Day landings.  The bricks you see formed their sleeping quarters, canteens and stores.  The barracks were demolished after the war and the demolition rubble ended up being recycled as substrate for a beach car park and caravan park.   In 1967, the National Trust bought Formby Point to protect it from further dumping and inappropriate development, safeguarding its future as a place of conservation and recreation for all.  

Find out how the National Trust manages the rubble here.

It’s not just bricks and rubble that are appearing from the dunes and onto the beach.  The sharp-eyed visitor might also notice the dark brown tobacco waste which is exposed as the sand dunes are eroded by the waves.

Tobacco waste on the beach at Formby
beach formby
Tobacco waste on the beach at Formby

After the Second World War, smoking was still widespread and the tobacco industry was booming.  When the British Nicotine Company Ltd needed somewhere to dump their leftover tobacco leaves, they decided on disused asparagus farmland lying behind a section of dunes at Formby Point.  Wagons full of denicotinised waste arrived every day between 1956 and 1974 – the council granted permission for this only because the company had already started using the area as a dumping ground.  Dune stabilising plants like sand sedge and marram grass don’t grow very well on it, instead it is carpeted in nettles.  As the line of dunes running along the beach slowly eroded back, the waste was exposed as brown-coloured cliffs.  You can see these cliffs if you walk approximately half a kilometre down the shore from the Victoria Road beach car park, in a southerly direction.