A retired ambulance worker who vowed to never to leave his ‘crumbling’ clifftop home has finally been forced to move out after a landslide made it too dangerous to stay. 

George Gardiner, 83, had hoped to spend his ‘old age’ in Luccombe on the Isle of Wight despite a water leak threatening to pull the property into the sea.

The former ambulance chief and his wife moved into the house, which was formerly a tearoom, in the idyllic area after leaving London in 2022.

The couple had been running a teagarden out of the house before she died of cancer.

Despite the garden and drive dropping 5ft and cracks appearing in the walls after a landslip last year, George had remained defiant that he would stay and even refused an offer from Southern Water for alternative accommodation.

But now, the widower said his home of over two decades – which he cannot sell – has become too ‘dangerous’ to remain in as he reluctantly made the decision to move elsewhere.

George Gardiner, 83, had hoped to spend his 'old age' in Luccombe on the Isle of Wight

George Gardiner, 83, had hoped to spend his ‘old age’ in Luccombe on the Isle of Wight

George Gardiner's house at the edge is on the edge of a cliff in Luscombe on the Isle of Wight

George Gardiner’s house at the edge is on the edge of a cliff in Luscombe on the Isle of Wight

George Gardiner says the 'unbelievable' damage was caused by a water leak. Picture shows the 5ft drop in George's drive

George Gardiner says the ‘unbelievable’ damage was caused by a water leak. Picture shows the 5ft drop in George’s drive

A massive crack appeared in his garden as a result of the landslide

A massive crack appeared in his garden as a result of the landslide

The father of two said owning the former tearoom has been ‘disastrous’ and he is now using a ‘big’ part of his pension to pay rent for a new ‘smaller home’ – but he promised to return to the derelict house to feed the red squirrels.

Mr Gardiner spent his life working in the ambulance service and in 2002, he moved from London to the Isle of Wight, Hampshire with his partner Barbara to retire.

But last year a landslip caused by a water leak led to his garden and drive dropping five feet.

He was offered alternative accommodation but refused to move out.

But things have become a lot worse for George since as the floors have opened up, cracks have appeared in walls and there are gaping holes in the ceiling.

And the wooden stairs, which were built last year to replace a temporary ladder to enable Mr Gardiner to get to the front door, no longer reach the ground.

The former ambulance chief said ‘the building itself is crumbling away’ and there are ‘big gaps’ across the property’s infrastructure.

He added: ‘The land is so dodgy I have got to leave my car out [the front].

‘I used to drive into my garage but that isn’t possible now. I have to try and make my way up.’

The pensioner said due to the rubble from the landfall, gaining access to the property is difficult and when he wants to leave he has to ‘climb out’.

He added: ‘It’s been the most disastrous thing in my life – it’s unbelievable. How can you get to my stage in life and have this happen?’

After vowing not to move, Mr Gardiner has now made the difficult decision to leave his home in Luccombe and move elsewhere.

He will rent a new ‘smaller home’ some 15 minutes away and pay £850 in rent per month – which is a ‘big part of’ his pension.

Mr Gardiner added: ‘No one could live in it. The house will remain mine but it wouldn’t be allowed to have anyone living there.

‘My entire life, I have always worked, all my life, and I have always saved and of course it took a lot of money putting this place better when I moved in.

An aerial image shows the 5ft drop in George's drive that he needs a ladder to get over

An aerial image shows the 5ft drop in George’s drive that he needs a ladder to get over

The lawn of the house - seen here when it was still a tea room - is now gone

The lawn of the house – seen here when it was still a tea room – is now gone

‘I have got to pay rent. After all these years, I have got to pay rent instead of owning property.’

George added that ‘everything’ he has spent to look after the property ‘has gone’.

He feels alone in the situation as he said, ‘no one suffers except me.’

The exact date George moves into his new home is ‘up in the air’ but he will start paying rent on March 5.

Discussing his home, he said: ‘You have to see it to believe it – it’s dangerous. I still have my red squirrels.

‘They know where to come for food. It’s going to be sad when I move, I shall come back and give food to them.’

Describing how his dreams have been dashed, Mr Gardiner said: ‘I moved in there with a lovely lady and we were going to run the tea gardens and then sadly she got cancer and died.

‘My youngest daughter – who’s been helping me a lot – wanted to come here and sort of look after me in my old age and run the tea gardens but it’s all gone because of the landfall.’

The pensioner said the landfall was caused by a water main that he had repeatedly warned public water company Southern Water about.

He explained: ‘In an adjoining field, there was a big water main that supplied a lot of the west side of the Isle of Wight.

‘This water main was leaking for just over two years. I kept ringing them and ringing them and never once did they send anyone round.

‘Then, overnight, the big water main burst. It must have been trickling for ages.’

A crack in the foundations of George's house which he says was caused by a 'leak'

A crack in the foundations of George’s house which he says was caused by a ‘leak’

Southern Water said it had received a claim that a leaking pipe had ‘allegedly caused subsidence’.

The company said Mr Gardiner declined an offer of alternative accommodation for 12 months while a geological investigation was carried out.

The survey was completed in November last year and a full report is due that will be considered by its insurers and legal team.

The water company said that because Mr Gardiner has decided to move it had agreed an initial six month’s rent with the option to extend if necessary.

It said it immediately agreed to the necessary funding and had paid the required advance rent.

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