Foulness Island

Foulness ( / f aʊ the n ɛ s / ) is an island on the east coast of Essex in England , qui is separated from the mainland by narrow creeks . In the 2001 census, the usually resident population was 212, living in the settlements of Churchend and Courtsend, at the end of the island. The population reduced to 151 at the 2011 Census. [1] The island has a general store and post office . The George and Dragon Churchend pub closed in 2007, while the church closed in May 2010.

Foulness Island is predominantly farmland and is protected from the sea by a sea wall. The island’s unusual [2] name is derived from the Old English for wildfowl and promontory, and it is an important site for migrating and breeding Internationally birds, Including Avocets . During the North Sea flood of 1953 , the whole island was flooded and two people died.

Prior to 1922, when the road was built, the only access to the Maplin Sands via the Broomway , a tidal path said to predate the Romans, or by boat. ALTHOUGH public rights of way exist, the island is now run by QinetiQ On Behalf of the Ministry of Defense , and access to the island is only permitted with a pass, Obtainable from Shoeburyness . The island’s visitor center is open to the public on Sunday, but permission must be sought to visit. Until 2007, members of the public could visit the island by telephoning ahead; if they had not done so, access would be denied.


Foulness is part of the electoral ward called Foulness and Great Wakering. The population of this ward at the 2011 census was 5,738. [3]


The island covers 9.195 square miles (23.81 km 2 ) bounded by its sea walls. Before 1847, tithes were payable in kind, but under the terms of the General Tithe Actof 1836, these were replaced by payments of money. The switching commission, which was responsible for setting the level of payments, produced a detailed schedule and map in 1847, which provides a detailed land use survey. At the time, the island included 425 acres (172 ha) of saltings, outside the sea wall. The 5,885 acres (2,382 ha) inside the wall incorporated 4,554 acres (1,843 ha) of arable land, with pasture covering another 783 acres (317 ha). 338 acres (137 ha) were described as inland water, which was made up of ponds and drainage ditches, while buildings, roads, and the remaining 222 acres (90 ha). The arable land was used to grow cereal crops, wheat, barley, and beans, white mustard and clover. [4]

1870s, with much arable land reverting to rough pasture. However, a report from the Royal Commission on Agriculture (Essex), which reported in 1894, shows that it is not yet up to 1880, despite some 25% reverting in the neighboring Rochford hundred. Great Burwood Farm had 47 acres (19 ha) of its 389 acres (157 ha) in 1858, which had dropped to just 12 acres (4.9 ha) in 1899. Farm was bought for £ 11,165 in 1858 and sold for only £ 1,800 in 1899, losing 84% of its value. By the 1970s, the smaller farms had been amalgamated into five large farming businesses. [4]

Sea defenses

The surface of the island, along with much of South East England , has been sinking relative to normal levels since the end of the last Ice Age . There is no evidence for sea defenses in the period of Roman occupation, although the area was flooded in AD 31 by an exceptional tide, which forced a withdrawal to Shoeburyness . The Anglo-Saxon Chroniclealso records an exceptional tide on November 11, 1099 which flooded the land, but these were rare occurrences. The first defenses were probably erected in the late 12th century. By 1210, the “law of the marsh” was in effect: it required that the cost of such defenses should be paid for by The Land Drainage Act 1930. In 1335, 1338 and 1346, commissioners were sent to inspect the state of the banks in the Rochford Hundred , which included Foulness. [5]

The earliest record of sea walls is from 1271, and in 1348 there were problems with one of the marshes, which was flooding every day, indicating that it was below the level of normal tides. The sea walls were made of earth, and they were made with brushwood and rushes. The island was divided into 11 or 12 marshes, with its own wall, rather than one walled around, and was extended in 1420 by a new wall around New Wick Marsh, and again between 1424 and 1486, when Arundel Marsh was enclosed. Ditches ran between the walls of the marshes, with sluices at the ends where the ditches met the sea. At high water, the island would be divided into smaller islands. A Commission of Sewers was appointed in 1695, whose jurisdiction included Foulness, but the inhabitants were not happy, Sir John Brodrick to put their case. They argue that they had a great deal of flooding in the world in 1690, but that they had repaired and improved the walls themselves, and should not be taxed by the Commissioners. Eventually, Foulness had its own Commission, from 1800 to the early 1900s.[6]

The size of the island has been increased several times by “innings”. Saltings build up along the shore from silt which is carried to the sea by the rivers, and is deposited on the shore by the tide. Salt-loving plants then take root in the mud, and the salting is established. The plants trap sediments, and the surface rises until it remains above the level of most tides. Inning occurs when the sea is built around the edge of the salting, after which washes the salt downwards. The alluviumwhich forms the soil is highly fertile once freshwater plants start to grow. The New Wick Marsh inning added 220 acres (89 ha), while Arundel March covered 385 acres (156 ha). No new innings took place in the 1500s, but there were several exceptional tides, and activity was maintained on the existing defenses, but another 170 acres (69 ha) was added between 1620 and 1662, and there was more activity between 1687 and 1688 , in 1801, and finally in 1833. In total, 1,632 acres (660 ha) were added to the island. [7]


The Broomway provided the main access to Foulness for centuries. It is an ancient track, which starts at Wakering Stairs, and runs for 6 miles along the Maplin Sands, some 440 yards (400 m) from the present shoreline. The seaward side of the track Was defined by bunches of twigs and sticks, shaped like upside down besom brooms or fire-brooms, qui are buried in the sands. Six headways run from the track to the shore, giving access to local farms. The track was very dangerous in the air, and the water forms in the river Crouch and River Roach. Under such conditions, the direction of the shore can not be determined, and the parish registers of the burials of many people who have been drowned. [8]

The island was also served by ferries. The carriage of water is mentioned in the accounts by the bailiffs in 1420, 1424 and 1486. ​​By the middle of the 19th century, Ferries run to Burnham-on-Crouch , Potton Island and Wallasea Island. There was initially no source of fresh water on the island from any rainwater that could be collected. In 1725, it was thought that there may be much less than the island, and it was constructed on Great Shelford Marsh. It reached a depth of 92 feet (28 m), but no water was found. At the end of the 1700s, Francis Bannester, who owned Rushley Island nearby, but again failed to do so. However, his, also called Francis, persisted and found fresh water some 500 feet (150 m) below Rushley in 1828. Just six years later, there are more than 20 such springs scattered through the six islands of which one is Fourteen farms on the island had their own wells by 1889. [9]

Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1939 warning sign, taken in 1988.

Evidence for housing comes from the census returns. In 1801, 396 people lived in 43 houses, which gives an average occupancy of 9.2 people. This had increased to 9.8 in 1811, when 450 people occupied 46 houses. Ownership of the manor was inherited by George Finch in 1826, who took his responsibilities seriously, and set about improving the island by building brick houses for his tenants. Five years later, 630 people lived in 78 houses, and by 1851, 109 dwellings housed 640 people, with average occupancy down to 5.9 people. Population peaked at 754 in the census of 1871, but has steadily declined since. [10]

From 1855, the Shoebury Sands, which were a continuation of the Maplin Sands to the south of the island, had been used as an artillery testing site, and the War Office sought to extend this end of the 19th century, by buying the island and its offshore sands, to act as a research and development center for new weapons. They bought some of the sands above Fisherman’s Head in 1900, but the rest belonged to Alan Finch, the Lord of the Manor, and he declined to grant shooting rights over them. In 1912, the War Office also discovered that large areas of the sands were leased to tenants, who used them for fishing kiddles . [11] A kiddle was a broad V-shaped or square net, which formed an enclosure in which fish were trapped as the recessed ted. [12]Attempts to buy the lordship were also refused by Finch, but he died in 1914, and his half-brother Wilfred Henry Montgomery Finch sold on July 13, 1915, resulting in the War Office owning two-thirds of the island. They had been commissioned by the United States, and by the end of the First World War, which they did not own at the church, the school, and a mission hall at Courts End. They demolished the post mill towards the beginning of the war, and the parish poor-house and a wooden lock-up were also demolished. [13]

One advantage of the takeover was the construction of the military road in 1922, which was made by New England Island and Havengore Island by a series of bridges, to reach the mainland near Great Wakering . After its opening, the Broomway ceased to be used, except by the military. [8] With the passing of the Ministry of Defense Act 1946 and the subsequent rationalization of five agencies in 1971, [14] ownership of the island passed from the War Office to the Ministry of Defense . In 2003, QinetiQ was awarded a contract to manage the testing of munitions , and they also control access to the island. [15]


In the 1850s, the South Essex Estuary and Reclamation Company proposed a large scheme to reclaim around 47.5 square miles (123 km 2 ) of land on the Essex coast, which would have included most of Foulness Sands and Maplin Sands . The civil engineer Sir John Rennie produced the plans, and an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1852. This authorized the construction of a 20-mile (32 km) wall, running from Wakering Stairs to Beyond Foulness Point. A small amount of the carried out work Was there Reviews another share of the scheme near Bradwell-on-Sea , the company aims Was wound up in 1868. Lack of funding and opposition from Landowners Contributed to icts failure. [16]

Another scheme Was Proposed by William Napier and William Hope (VC) in January 1862 in response to requests from the Metropolitan Board for imaginative ways to generate a profit from the wide quantities of sewage qui HAD-been conveyed away from London by Joseph Bazalgette ‘s sewer system. Hope in the field of reclamation and irrigation works in Spain and Majorca. Their scheme envisaged a 44-mile (71 km) culvert from the northern outfall to Rawreth , where a northern branch would be conveyed to Dengie Flats , and a southern one to Maplin Sands. Some 20,000 acres (81 km 2 ) would be reclaimed on both sides of the River Crouchwhich would become prime agricultural land. Amongst several schemes, it has been proposed that the Commission, but opposed by the City of London, who argued that the soil on the soil was unsuitable for irrigation with sewage. [17]

The estimated cost of the scheme was £ 2.1 million, with pumping costs of between £ 10,000 and £ 13,000 per year. The Metropolitan Sewage and Essex Reclamation Company was set up, and deposited £ 25,000 with the Board, to be refunded on completion. Construction work began in late 1865, and the Board remained confident that the scheme would be completed, but the collapse of the Overcome Gurney bank precipitated a crisis in the City of London, which made it difficult to raise finance. A report by the Board for 1867-8 stated that it was not made for some time, and that it was 1871. The Board kept the £ 25,000, the only money the London ratepayers ever received for their sewage , despite claims at the time it was worth over £ 4 million. [18]

Around 100 years later, the Roskill Commission investigated potential sites for a third London airport. Four sites were considered, including an off-shore airport on Maplin Sands. The Maplin Development Act received Royal Assent in October 1973. In 1973, it was adopted under the authority of the United States, and the Maplin Development Authority was established. The M12 and M13 motorways to London, and a new town for the port of London, a high-speed rail link to the M12 and M13 motorways to London the accommodation of the thousands of workers who would be required. The new town was 82 square miles, with a population of 600,000 people. The cost was then-astronomical £ 825 million (£ 8.448 million today), which many regarded as unacceptable. The Maplin Project Was Abandoned In July 19741973 oil crisis . [19]

1953 flood

Most of the island was flooded in 1953 , as a result of exceptional weather conditions which affected much of the Netherlands and the east coast of England. High water at Southendwas expected to be 8.7 feet (2.7 m) above average sea level at 1:30 am on Sunday 1 February. The actual tide rose to 15.7 feet (4.8 m) above average sea level, which was 3.5 feet (1.1 m) above the danger level for this part of the Essex coast. This level was developed in 1951 and 1952 by the War Office, and was 16.5 feet (5.0 m) above average sea level. However, the high water is accompanied by strong winds, creating large waves, which broke the top of the defenses, washing up the earth banks on the side of the walls. Two sections of the wall breached, from Rugwood Head to Asplin’s Head on the eastern side of the island, and about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the west of Foulness Point on the northern side of the island. By 6:00 am, most of it was under water, and gas, electricity and telephone links had been severed. Rescue Attempts on the Sunday Foulness.[20]

Plans were formulated by the army, the Southend lifeboat service and various civilian services for a rescue attempt on the Monday. Great Wakering village hall and the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club at Burnham-on-Crouch were prepared for reception centers, and a flotilla of small boats, the lifeboat, a barge and an army DUKW amphibious truckreached the stranded people and evacuated them to the reception centers. 30 men refused to leave, because of the plight of their livestock, but they were compulsorily evacuated the following day. Two people died in the disaster. Rescue of the animals was difficult, because the road was not accessible, and it was only possible at low tide, using the Broomway to Fisherman’s Head. On Wednesday 4 February, a number of DUKWs and four-wheel-drive lorries reached the island of food and water for the stranded animals, which were rounded up and assembled at the churchyard, where the land is slightly higher. The following day, they were moved to Newhouse Farm, near to Fisherman’s Head, ready for the arrival of 24 cattle lorries, which drove across the sands early on Friday morning. Most of the animals had been rescued by Saturday night, with the final sixteen dairy leaving by barge on Sunday morning. A total of 400 cattle, 14 calves, 28 horses, 72 sheep, 6 lambs, 3 pigs, 670 chickens, 100 ducks, 2 dogs, 10 rabbits, 4 budgerigars and the 16 dairy cows were rescued. Around 700 sheep and 249 pigs were drowned.[21]

In order to repair the walls before the next spring, which were due on 16 February 300 soldiers and 70 sailors were drafted in. Three Royal Navy minesweepers, the Cheerful , Cockatrice and Rinaldo, were moored near Foulness Point, and were used as accommodation by the workers. The number of personnel had increased to 400 soldiers and 100 sailors by 11 February. High tide on 14 February was 1.5 feet (0.46 m) higher than expected, and washed away at Shelford Creek, but repairs were again made, and the walls survived the spring tides of the following days. Re-occupation of the island was delayed until March 19, but many people started to talk to each other about it. Of the 114 families who had been evacuated, 80 returned on 19 March. [22]


Foulness and Potton Island , as they appear in 2013

The island’s name is derived from the Old English fulga-naess , with fulga (modern “fowl”) meaning wild birds and ” naess ” being the Germanic word for promontory , [23] and it remains an important center for birds, with the area Foulness Point designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Habitat is provided by extensive mud flats and sand flats, which are covered by the tides, together with salt marshes, shingle shells, grazing marshes, rough grass and scrubland. They are recognized as being important for six species of birds. Thousands of dark-bellied brent geesecome from Russia to spend the winter on the flats, which are also frequented by bar-tailed godwit , gray plover , red knot , oystercatcher and redshank . For waterfowl, principally curlew , dunlin and shelduck , the site is of national importance. In winter, hen harriers can be seen foraging, and a wide range of plants and invertebrates thrive there. [24]

Other translations : avocado , common tern , little tern , sandwich tern and ringed plover . During the winter months, in excess of 100,000 waterfowl have been reported. [25] The avocet population is the second largest in the United Kingdom. [15] The SSSI Foulness has been designated as a Special Protection Area for Birds under the EC Birds Directive, and is also a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention because of its importance as a wetland. [26]


  1. ^ Jump up to:b “Parish population 2011” . Neighborhood Statistics . Office for National Statistics . Retrieved 23 September 2015 .
  2. Jump up^ Symons, Mitchell (8 November 2012). The Bumper Book For The Loo: Facts and Figures, Stats and Stories – an unputdownable treat of trivia . Transworld. p. 271. ISBN  978-1-4481-5271-1 .
  3. Jump up^ “Ward population 2011” . Retrieved 23 September 2015 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Smith 1970 , pp. 20-21
  5. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 25
  6. Jump up^ Smith 1970, pp. 26-28
  7. Jump up^ Smith 1970, pp. 28-29
  8. ^ Jump up to:b Smith 1970 , p. 41
  9. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 20
  10. Jump up^ Smith 1970, pp. 38-40
  11. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 21
  12. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 14
  13. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 42
  14. Jump up^ “History of the Ministry of Defense” . MOD . Retrieved 15 December2010 .
  15. ^ Jump up to:b “Foulness Island” . Rochford District Council . Retrieved 15 December 2010 .
  16. Jump up^ Smith 1970, pp. 43-44
  17. Jump up^ Halliday 1999, pp. 113-117
  18. Jump up^ Halliday 1999, pp. 117-119
  19. Jump up^ Needham, Duncan (27 July 2016). “Maplin: The Treasury and London’s Third Airport in the 1970s” . History & Policy . History & Policy . Retrieved 27 October 2014 .
  20. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 33
  21. Jump up^ Smith 1970, pp. 34-35
  22. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 36
  23. Jump up^ Smith 1970, p. 8
  24. Jump up^ “Shoeburyness Conservation Group celebrates 100th meeting” . QinetiQ. April 26, 2006 . Retrieved 13 December 2010 .
  25. Jump up^ Hannah Montag (January 2009). “Minerals Development Documents”(PDF) . Essex County Council. p. 10 . Retrieved 13 December 2010 .
  26. Jump up^ “Foulness Churchend Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan” . Rochford District Council . Retrieved 13 December 2010 .

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