Thorney Island :: Shared Description

When seen on the map, Thorney Island looks to be a peninsula on the southern coast of England sandwiched between Hayling Island to the west and the Manhood Peninsula (containing The Witterings and Selsey) to the east; along with two other stubby peninsulae, those containing respectively, Chidham and Bosham.
The southern section of this peninsula is indeed an island however as it is separated from the mainland by a reasonably wide channel known as "The Great Deep". This channel is bridged at both eastern and western coastal extremities by the Sussex Border Path which hugs the coast of the entire peninsula. A third bridge (slightly to the west of its centre) carries the only road onto the island across this channel. This road is only open to approved traffic as the entire island (south of the Great Deep) is owned by the Ministry of Defence (M.O.D.)
The Military's presence on the island was established in 1938 when the RAF built an airfield here (see LinkExternal link ); the flatness of the island making it eminently suitable. The airfield played an active part in the Battle of Britain, and was bombed and strafed by the Luftwaffe.
The RAF abandoned the site on 31st March 1976, and an etched clear glass window in the ancient church of St Nicholas in the island's only village of West Thorney (confusingly situated on the east side of the island) commemorates their time here.
In 1980 the site became temporary home to many of the "Vietnamese Boat People" who had been accepted for settlement in Britain. Two years later, the Royal Artillery took over the site, and several regiments have been stationed here, and continue to occupy the site. In 1986 the site was renamed "Baker Barracks" which is its current appellation.
As a result of the M.O.D.'s presence, not only is road access strictly limited, but the coastal footpath passes through controlled gates in razor-wire topped metal fences. Walkers press a button on a yellow box and presumably are checked over by army personnel via the pole-mounted CCTV cameras. Access to the island is then granted (or presumably denied if they don't like the cut of your jib!) by remote control of the gates. Notices advise walkers not to stray inland from this coastal footpath, as they will be prosecuted, or may come up against guard dogs; not to mention the possible dangers of unexploded munitions. The exception is the church of St Nicholas which may be visited, and dating originally from Norman times is very interesting and worth a visit. The presence of this ancient church speaks of the long history of the island for the many centuries before its comparatively recent military use.
Physically the island is very flat and low-lying, ranging from just 2m to 4m above sea level. The area of the island (south of the Great Deep and excluding Pilsey island and the extensive tidal sand off the south coast) is about 487 ha (just under 2 sq.miles) - the entire peninsula is about 680 ha (c.2.6 sq.miles) depending on where you consider its northern border to be.
The Thorney Channel to the east of the island is characterized by mud flats, whereas to the south of the island are extensive sands; to the west, the shoreline adjoining the Emsworth Channel is more shingly than the eastern side, but also with extensive mud.
The peninsula to the north of the Great Deep is heavily reeded and is cut through with waterways both natural and man-made. The whole of the peninsula and its surrounding mudflats are very popular with wildlife especially wading birds and geese.
The human population of West Thorney (the island's only village) was 1,183 in 2011 up 10% from 1,079 in 2001 - presumably mostly military personnel and their families.
To the south of Thorney Island and now linked by a sandbank is Pilsey Island, an RSPB nature reserve, to which public access is prohibited to protect the birds there.
by Rob Farrow
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21 images use this description:

SU7602 : Thorney Island - St Nicholas - C14th oak screen by Rob Farrow
SU7601 : Thorney Island - Wrecked jetty with former runway lights by Rob Farrow
SU7404 : Sea wall north of Thorney Island by Rob Farrow
SU7602 : Thorney Island - Tree overhanging coastal footpath by Rob Farrow
SU7702 : Thorney Island - End of the slipway, West Thorney by Rob Farrow
SU7602 : Thorney Island - Church of St Nicholas by Rob Farrow
SU7502 : Thorney Island - Memorial seat by Rob Farrow
SU7605 : Deer at Prinsted by Rob Farrow
SU7403 : Thorney Island - The Great Deep - Western End by Rob Farrow
SU7600 : Sands to the south of Longmere Point, Thorney Island by Rob Farrow
SZ7798 : Boats and geese on Snowhill Creek by Rob Farrow
SU7702 : Thorney Island - Slipway east of West Thorney by Rob Farrow
SU7502 : Thorney Island coast and memorial bench by Rob Farrow
SU7603 : Guarded gate to Thorney Island - Coastal footpath by Rob Farrow
SU7602 : Thorney Island - RAF window in St Nicholas church by Rob Farrow
SU7602 : Thorney Island - Church of St Nicholas - Tower & Porch by Rob Farrow
SU7603 : Thorney Island - The Great Deep - Eastern end by Rob Farrow
SU7601 : Thorney Island - Former guiding lights by Rob Farrow
SU7602 : Thorney Island - St Nicholas - Norman "tub" font by Rob Farrow
SU7504 : Reeds and wetland north of Thorney Island by Rob Farrow
SU7501 : Thorney Island - Brent Geese over former airfield by Rob Farrow

These Shared Descriptions are common to multiple images. For example, you can create a generic description for an object shown in a photo, and reuse the description on all photos of the object. All descriptions are public and shared between contributors, i.e. you can reuse a description created by others, just as they can use yours.
Created: Thu, 12 Jan 2017, Updated: Wed, 1 Nov 2017

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2017 Rob Farrow, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

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