|Memory Lane: Sea Levels
I have before me a map of Mersea Island and surrounding areas which has been reproduced in a local publication. Much of the surrounding low lying area is coloured pink with the suggestion that by 2030, that's in eight years time, these areas are forecast to be under water with some areas completely submerged.
I have now lived on Mersea Island for ninety years and I thought it might be of interest to record the changes I have seen in that time. Some detailed research by David Nicholls several years ago shows that much of this pink area would have been covered in big tides anyway before the seawalls were built over two hundred or so years ago. Cobmarsh, Packing Shed islands, Feldy and other surrounding saltings are covered on big tides anyway, and have always been in my memory. The area to the East of Seaview Avenue known as Stucks used to flood on every big tide - by big tide I mean any tide that covered the Strood. With the ebb, water used to gouge a deep channel across the beach making it impassable until the water had drained. This area is walled off and now part of the caravan park with clubhouse.
People who owned bottom row beach huts before World War 2 say that they would always leave important things on the table, because it was not unusual for big tides to come into the hut. But this is more complicated, as the beach may have been lower in those days.
Crossing the Strood under difficulties in the 1930s
It has been suggested the the Strood is covered more now than it used to be, yet we have old postcards from the 1920s/30s showing buses and cars ploughing through deep water. What certainly has happened is the creeks are silting up, particularly on the East (Pyefleet side) of the Strood with grass growing. In 1889 the channel was deep enough for the barge ADA GANE capable on carrying 200 tons of coal to get up to the wharf. In the Essex Standard of 20th April, 1889 there is a report of a heroic deed accomplished by its captain William Wilmot. Four boys had been 'Egging' on Ray Island and seeing the fast rising tide decided to head for the Strood. They soon got into difficulties and one lad fell into a rill from which he couldn't be got out. After trying unsuccessfully for some time they had to leave him and head for the Strood to save their own lives. There they told of their plight to the barge captain who immediately went to the boys aid, the water was too deep for him to wade and he had to remove his jacket and swim. He succeeded in saving the boy who was near to dead but recovered after a long time. This shows how deep the water could be over Bonners Marsh in 1889.
I think we should all be concerned about saving our planet, but from what I have seen on Mersea Island in the last ninety years there has been little if any change in the sea levels here and I can't see anything different happening in the next eight years.
Article published in Mersea Life February 2022