Walton-on-the-Naze is a small town in Essex, England, on the North Sea coast, in the Tendring district. It is north of Clacton and south of the busy port of Harwich. It abuts Frinton-on-Sea to the south, and is part of the parish of Frinton and Walton. It is a busy resort town, with a permanent population of about 12,000. It attracts good numbers of visitors, with the Naze being the main tourist attraction. There is also a Walton pier.
The Naze itself is a peninsula to the north of the town. It is an important site for migrating birds and has a small nature reserve. The marshes of Hamford Water behind the town are also of ornithological interest, with wintering ducks and Brent Geese. Many bird watchers visit the area at migration times.
The Hanoverian tower at the start of the open area of the Naze was built as a sea mark, to assist ships on this otherwise fairly featureless stretch of coast.
The Naze is eroding rapidly and threatening the tower and the wildlife. The Naze Protection Society was formed to campaign for erosion controls.
Due to the visible erosion of the Naze, this has become a popular area for school fieldwork research into the effects of coastal erosion and methods used to protect the coastline. Some of the methods of protection that have been used include a sea wall, a riprap, groynes and a permeable groyne as well as improved drainage. Also, millions of tons of sand has been added to the beach in an attempt to replenish it and help stop the cliff eroding. However, the area of cliff where the Naze Tower is situated is being greatly eroded by the sea and weather. This means that the cliff is receding at a very fast rate and within 50 years the Naze Tower will have tumbled into the sea like the pill boxes that can be seen on the beach.
The original pier was built in 1830, making it one of the earliest in the country. It was built originally for the sole purpose of landing goods and passengers from steamers and was 300ft (91m) long. The pier was badly damaged in a storm in the 1890's. In 1895, the Walton-on-the-Naze hotel and pier company (the then owners of the pier) decided to open a replacement pier that was some 500ft longer than the original. Over the years, several extensions have been carried out to extend the pier's overall length to 2,600 ft (793m) which makes it the third longest pier in the UK.
When the new pier was opened in 1895, an electric tramway was installed to allow efficient transport of passengers and luggage from the end of the pier, where the steamers used to dock, to the front of the pier. This tramway was in use up until 1935 when it was upgraded to a battery powered carriage. In 1945 a fire caused considerable damage to the pier, and the battery carriage was replaced by a diesel locomotive train. This was eventually removed during the 1970s.
Today, the pier remains a popular attraction for those visiting the town, and boasts a number of amusements and fun-fair rides all of which are housed in a hangar-type building. Beyond this, the pier extends into a promenade that is popular with anglers.
There is a very unusual war memorial which has a memorial to a Halifax crew who all died when they crashed on the Naze, a tribute to Herbert George Columbine who won the VC and after whom the local leisure centre is named, and a tribute to those lost in World War I in HMS Conquest.