In 1897, work began on dredging massive amounts of sand and gravel from Start Bay in south Devon. The material was for the construction of Plymouth docks. Within a few years, locals living and fishing along the beach complained that the beach was receding and that the fishing industry was suffering. Eventually, these complaints were listened to and the dredging was discontinued.
On 26th January 1917, an easterly gale blew along the English Channel. This combined with spring tides to create a storm surge. The beach was overtopped by the rising water and in the village of Hallsands, water began to flood into houses. The village’s 128 residents were evacuated. By dawn, four of Hallsands’ 30 houses were destroyed. Some locals returned the next day to retrieve what they could of their belongings.
The following night saw another storm surge, and the village was completely destroyed. Only one of Hallsands’ houses was still standing.