Wallasea Island

Wallasea Island lies in Essex , England . It is bound to the north by the River Crouch , to the south by the River Roach , and to the west by Paglesham Pool and the narrow Paglesham Creek . The population of the Island is included in the civil parish of Canewdon .

Much of the island is farmland , and wheat is the main crop. A small settlement at its western end is linked to a campsite and marina . It is linked by ferry to Burnham-on-Crouch .

It is possible to walk around 8 mi (13 km) around most of the sea wall. The south side of the island is one of the most tranquil places in Essex, where you can see the boulders and canes. Close by, on the opposite side of the River Roach estuary , Foulness Island and Potton Island are visible.


Almost nothing is known about the early history of Wallasea. At the end of the last Ice Age it was almost certainly dry land like most of the North Sea basin. Rising sea levels are thought to be under the island’s soil. Several archaeological features have been recorded on the south and east edges of the island, these are the “red hills” typical of the Roman periodand were probably relics of a process of extraction of salt from sea water. Thirteenth-century records mention several places on Wallasea such as Lower Barn and Sherwoods. It is likely that Wallasea was used for some time and too much arable land too. The origins of the various farms is unclear, but it is known as a farmhouse at Grapnells as far back as 1546. Saxton’s map of 1576 shows that it is confirmed by Camden’s description of 1551.

In the 15th century, these lands were drained by Dutch settlers for agricultural use with the construction of the original sea wall. The population of Wallasea was at its highest in the mid to late 19th century. In 1875 there were 135 inhabitants and there were 13 houses. A school was opened in 1879 and lasted for 20 years. Import of cheap American wheat in an agricultural depression starting in 1875. Most of the island’s population and Wallasea reverted to pasture.

Much of the island was plowed up during the First World War when German U-boats were made more difficult . Bumper crops of wheat were grown in this period. The island was also under the plow in the Second World War .

Over the centuries Wallasea has been flooded in a number of storms. The most catastrophic inundation was in 1953 after which large sections of sea wall had to be rebuilt. The eastern end of the island is one of the last places in the UK to be drained of floodwater. The storm swept away the Tyle House, the Devil’s House, which according to the legend was the abode of a demon. [1]

Wallasea Wetlands

Main article: Wallasea Wetlands

On July 4, 2006, a £ 7.5 million project has been completed by bulldozing 300m of the sea defense, at the points of maximum pressure on the estuary . An area of ​​115 hectares was flooded, which is evolving into wetland, mudflats, saline lagoons and seven artificial islands. The wetlands are intended for providing winter grounds for wading birds , and ease flood problems on the River Crouch.

In December 2008, the RSPB submitted a planning application to Essex County Council for a £ 12 million scheme to break open Wallasea’s remaining sea walls and turn the rest of the island’s farmland into a wetland bird reserve. In September 2012 it was announced that work had begun on the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project [2] [3] under which around 4.5 million tons of earth will be transported to Wallasea Island to help create the nature reserve. This will come from the London Crossrail tunnel excavation. [4] [5] [6]



  • Wallsea Island, by Ellen Heppell, Essex Archeology and History, 35 (2004) 98-113
  • BBC News: “New £ 5m haven for wading birds” 4 March 2004
  • BBC News: “Farmland becomes wildlife habitat” 19 March 2005
  • BBC News: “Huge marine wetland starts life” 4 July 2006
  • BBC News: “Farmland yields to major wetland” 7 October 2007


  1. Jump up^ “Hidden East Anglia” . Hidden East Anglia . Retrieved 22 August 2014 .
  2. Jump up^ BBC. “Wallasea Island Nature Reserve Project Construction Begins” . Retrieved September 17, 2012 .
  3. Jump up^ RSPB. “Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project” . Retrieved 29 July 2013 .
  4. Jump up^ Carrington, Damian (17 September 2012). “Crossrail earth to help create the biggest man-made nature reserve in Europe” . The Guardian . Guardian News and Media Limited . Retrieved 2013-03-15 .
  5. Jump up^ Morelle, Rebecca (17 September 2012). “Wallasea Island Nature Reserve Project Construction Begins” . BBC News . Retrieved 2013-03-15 .
  6. Jump up^ Crossrail Ltd (2013). “Monster lift sends east London Tunneling machines 40 meters underground – Crossrail” . crossrail.co.uk . Retrieved 7 January 2013 .

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