Moving out of the Thames Estuary to the North Sea coast, we come to a strange little patch of land with the unfortunate name of Foulness Island. Much of the island has been taken over by the military, who purchased the land in 1915. A report in the Guardian in 2002 described how the military presence on the island led to a feeling of isolation from the rest of the world, rendering the island’s community “the closest thing to a police state on British soil”. The strict security imposed on the islanders has been a mixed blessing. One local pub landlord whose pub The George and Dragon featured in the article had the unique business disadvantage of customers having to phone ahead and give their name and address at the military checkpoint. Needless to say the pub’s customers gradually dwindled, and the pub finally closed in 2007. On the plus side, the island’s crime rate is exceptionally low thanks to the military presence and attendant security, and the island is an exceptionally safe environment for bringing up children. Another victim of the island’s unique situation was the old school house, which closed in 1988. However, this has been turned into a heritage centre displaying archaeological finds and information on the flora and fauna of the island. In fact, the island is a haven for wildlife, which includes wading birds such as oystercatchers, avocets, little egrets and brent geese, as well as grey seals, which can be spotted just offshore.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 Liz Henry | more info (via: Wylio)