Hayling Island

Hayling Island

The coastline of Hayling Island
Hayling Island
Location Solent
Coordinates 50°48′10″N 0°58′30″W / 50.80278°N 0.97500°W / 50.80278; -0.97500Coordinates: 50°48′10″N 0°58′30″W / 50.80278°N 0.97500°W / 50.80278; -0.97500
Total islands 1
Area 30 km2 (12 sq mi)
Length 6.5 km (4.04 mi)
Width 6.5 km (4.04 mi)
County Hampshire
Borough Havant
Largest settlement Mengham (town)
Population 17,379 (2011)
Pop. density 562.9 /km2 (1,457.9 /sq mi)

Hayling Island is an island off the south coast of England, in the borough of Havant in the county of Hampshire, near Portsmouth.


Photograph of Hayling Island between Selsey Bill and Portsea Island from the air from the west (north to the left)

An iron-age shrine in the north of Hayling Island was later developed into a Roman temple in the first century BC and was first recorded in Richard Scott's Topographical and Historical Account of Hayling Island, published in 1826. The site was excavated between 1897 and 1907 and again from 1976 to 1978. Remains are no longer visible and are buried beneath cultivated farmland.[1]

Salt production was an industry on the island from the 11th century (the Domesday Book records a saltpan on the island for this purpose) until the late 19th century.

Construction of Northwode Chapel by the monks of Jumièges, Normandy, began in about 1140; this became the present St Peter's Church and is now the oldest surviving church on the Island. It has been claimed that St Peter's three bells, cast in about 1350, have one of the oldest peals in England. St Mary's Church is a standard design of the churches of its era, but upon close examination the walls have been constructed from a mortar of local shells and beach pebbles. The ancient yew tree in the churchyard is believed to be the oldest yew in the country, with a girth of some nine metres (30 feet). Although estimates as to its age vary, they range from over a thousand to nearly two thousand years old.[2]

The grave of Princess Yourievsky (1878-1959) who was a member of the ill-fated Russian Royal family and who lived in North Hayling for many years, may be found in St. Peter's churchyard;[3] and the grave of Scotsman George Glas Sandeman, nephew of the founder of Sandeman Port and second head of that company,[4][5] is prominently featured in the north-east part of St. Mary's graveyard.[6]

The island was the location of a mock invasion during the military Exercise Fabius in May 1944, rehearsing the preparations for D-Day.[7]

In 1982, British courts recognised prior art by Peter Chilvers, who as a young boy on Hayling Island assembled his first board combined with a sail, in 1958. It incorporated all the elements of the modern windsurfer. The courts found that later innovations were "merely an obvious extension" and upheld the defendant's claim based on film footage.[8] This court case set a significant precedent for patent law in the United Kingdom, in terms of Inventive step and non-obviousness. The case, Chilvers, Hayling, and a replica of Chilvers' original board were featured on an episode of the BBC's The One Show in 2009.[9]

On 20 October 2013, at least one hundred properties on the island were damaged when it was hit by a tornado. No injuries were reported.[10][11]


Hayling Island is a true island, completely surrounded by sea. Looking at its north to south orientation, it is shaped like an inverted T, about 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) long and 6.5 kilometres (4.0 miles) wide. A road bridge connects its northern end to the mainland of England at Langstone. Historically, a small foot-passenger ferry connected it to the Eastney area of the city of Portsmouth on the neighbouring island of Portsea Island, but this ferry ceased operating in March 2015.[12] To the west is Langstone Harbour and to the east is Chichester Harbour. In the final days of July 2016 the ferry re-opened under a new contractor.

The natural beach at Hayling was predominantly sandy, but in recent years it has been mechanically topped with shingle dredged from the bed of the Solent in an effort to reduce beach erosion and reduce the potential to flood low-lying land. At low tide, the East Winner sandbank is visible, extending a mile out to sea. The coastline in this area has substantially changed since Roman times: it is believed much land has been lost from the coasts of Hayling and Selsey by erosion and subsequent flooding.


As with the rest of the British Isles and Southern England, Hayling Island experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Temperatures have never fallen into double figures below freezing, illustrating the relative warmth of the Island - comparable to the far South West of England. Temperature extremes between 1960 and 2010 have ranged from −9.4 °C (15.1 °F) during January 1963,[13] up to 32.1 °C (89.8 °F) during June 1976.[14]

Climate data for Hayling Island 4 metres (13 feet) asl, 1981-2010, extremes 1960-2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.7
Average high °C (°F) 8.0
Average low °C (°F) 3.4
Record low °C (°F) −9.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 75.02
Source: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI[15]

Sport and leisure

Hayling Island has a non-League football club, Hayling United F.C., which plays at Hayling Park.

Although largely residential, Hayling is also a holiday, windsurfing and sailing centre, the site where windsurfing was invented.

In summer 2010, the Hayling Island Sailing Club hosted the 2010 World Laser Standard Senior and Junior Championships (27 August-5 September). The Senior championship was won by Australian Tom Slingsby, whilst Dane Thorbjoern Schierup won the Junior competition.. Today it is a home to many different types of sailing, including a growing Fireball fleet.

As a consequence of the Island's popularity for water activities, there are two lifeboat services: Hayling Island Lifeboat Station, run by the RNLI and Hayling Island Rescue Service, an independent service run by retired RNLI helmsman, Frank Dunster.

The Island hosts one of the few active Real Tennis courts in the UK. Founded in 1911, Seacourt Tennis club is one of only a handful in the UK where it is possible to play every recognised racquet sport. The racquets court itself was opened by Sir Colin Cowdrey.

Seacourt Tennis Club also hosts a weekly fencing club featuring all ages, levels and weapons.

Hayling Golf Club has been voted in the top 100 golf courses in the UK. A traditional links course, although relatively short by modern standards, the strong prevailing south-westerly winds, fast greens, gorse bushes and traditional deep links bunkers make this a stern test for any golfer.

Funland, an amusement park situated at Beachlands, is open year-round, as is the East Hayling Light Railway which runs from the funfair to Eastoke corner.

The 5-mile (8.0 km) Hayling Billy Trail is a former light rail right-of-way which has been converted to one of many footpaths on the island.[16] The Ordnance Survey Explorer 120 map covers the area[17] and the local tourist information office supplies leaflets of local interest walks.[18]

The Station Theatre hosts a variety of plays staged by the Hayling Island Amateur Dramatics Society, Hayling Musical Society, musical events and films throughout the year.[19][20]

The island has several churches of different denominations including 3 Anglican churches; St Peter's at Northney, St Mary's at Gable Head and the more recently built St Andrew's in South Hayling.


Beaches at Hayling Island
Station Theatre, West Town, Hayling Island

Until March 2015, Hayling Ferry linked Portsmouth and Hayling Island. The ferry was busy in summer in good weather, bringing tourists and cyclists to Hayling.[21] In winter, there was a significant reduction of use. The ferry service to and from Portsea Island was subsidised by the local authorities, leaving it under constant threat of closure due to limited resources. The ferry service ceased when the company running the ferry went into administration in March 2015.[12] It was reopened in August 2016 by Baker Trayte Marine Ltd.[22] [23]

During the ferry's closure, the only public connection between Hayling Island and the mainland was the single carriageway road linking Northney to Langstone, Havant. In summer in particular this road can become very congested rendering the journey between the bridge and South Hayling (the most populated area) anything from 30 minutes to an hour. A proposed Millennium project to create a new shared pedestrian and cycle bridge was unsuccessful.[24]

A railway to the island was active in the 19th and 20th centuries. It opened on 17 July 1867, co-inciding with the local races.[25] Terrier steam locomotives pulled carriages along the 5-mile (8 km) Hayling Billy Line from Havant Station on the mainland to a station which was located at the northern end of Staunton Avenue, passing through Langstone where there was a Halt.[26] The railway was popular with tourists throughout the summer, though it saw little service in winter, and at peak times ran up to 24 services per day. Despite its popularity, the line was marked for closure in the Beeching Report due to the prohibitive cost of replacing Langstone Bridge that connected the island to the mainland, estimated at up to £400,000 to repair. Services ended on 3 November 1963, and the bridge was demolished in 1966.[25] The only remaining railway building, a goods shed, has now been converted into a theatre which is run by HIADS.[27]

A tourist attraction — the East Hayling Light Railway — is a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway that runs for just over 1 mile (1.6 km) from Beachlands Station to Eastoke Corner with aspirations to extend the route to Ferry Point within the next few years.

The nearest railway station to Hayling Island is Havant, just onto the mainland off Hayling Island. Alternatively, Portsmouth and Southsea is another railway station, used for connections to Bristol (Temple Meads) and Cardiff.

Notable people

Hayling oysterbeds

Oysters have been fished on the Hayling oysterbeds, at the northwest corner of the island, as long ago as Roman times, documented in town records since 1615.[30] The oysters were actively farmed between as early as 1819 until the 1970s.[31] Oysters became a delicacy that was exported throughout the country under the classification of “Emsworth Oysters”. Large complexes consisting of several pens separated by a series of bund walls and sluice gates were built to contain the oysters at varying stages of growth. Although large sections of the walls have since collapsed into the harbour, much of shape and scale of the beds can still be seen today.

In 1996, the oyster beds on the north west coast of Hayling Island were restored by the Havant Borough Council,[31] creating a wildlife haven which has become an important seabird breeding site. The Design Council awarded this project 'Millennium Product' status for the renovation.

Paris To Hayling Charity Cycle Ride

The island is the home of the Hayling Charity Cycle Ride.[32] This event, run entirely by local unpaid volunteers, was started in 1986 by local cyclist Peter McQuade[33][34] and has been run every year since. Up to 2014, over £1,400,000 had been collected for more than 500 good causes. Entrants have come from 15 different countries on five continents. After two years going to Holland, the event returned in 2014 to its original destination: Paris.


In the mid- to late twentieth century, Hayling Island's population was known to double during the summer months, due to a large influx of holiday makers and the associated tourism employees to accommodate. As domestic holidays have declined and Hayling's prominence as a traditional English seaside resort have followed in parallel, the population only swells by approximately 20%–25% (English Tourist Board estimate, 2001).

Population Date
~300 1086 (Domesday Book)
578 1801 (census)
>1,600 1901
>5,500 1950
16,887 2001 (census, usually resident population)

List of settlements

Places of interest


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hayling Island.
  1. Anthony King; Robert Downey (1977). "Internal Organisation and Deposition at the Iron Age Temple on Hayling Island (Hampshire)". Archived from the original on 2001-01-25.
  2. St. Mary's Church Hayling Council website. Retrieved 2010-03-14
  3. Church booklet - Guide to St Peter's Church North Hayling 2003.
  4. Sandeman Archive description AIM25 Archives website. Retrieved 2012-04-20
  5. PORT AND SHERRY Originally published by George G Sandeman & Co (1955), now hosted on Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2012-04-20
  6. St. Mary's Church Hayling Anglican Churches website. Retrieved 2012-04-20
  7. Southampton and D-Day, Ingrid Peckham. Southampton City Council Oral History, 1994. ISBN 1-872649-04-1
  8. "Windsurfing International Inc. v Tabur Marine (GB) Ltd. (1985) RPC 59". SLCC - Scots Law Courseware. The University of Strathclyde. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  9. The One Show 7pm BBC1 Friday 5 June! WindWise.net; Simon Bornhoft's WindWise. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  10. "Hayling Island properties hit by 'tornado'". BBC News. 20 October 2013.
  11. "'Tornado' damages 100 homes in Hampshire's Hayling Island". Metro. 20 October 2013.
  12. 1 2 "Hayling Island's only ferry stops crossings". BBC News. 31 March 2015.
  13. "1963 temperature". KNMI.
  14. "1976 temperature". KNMI.
  15. "Hayling Island Climate". KNMI. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  16. Coastal Path - Billy Trail. Visitor Guides; Hayling Island Community Online. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  17. Ordnance Survey Explorer 120 map. Ordnance Survey National Mapping Agency, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  18. Tourist Information Office Beachlands Havant Tourist Information Office. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  19. Events diary. Hayling Island Station Theatre. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  20. Current Production. Hayling Musical Society.
  21. Hayling Ferry History hayling.co.uk.
  22. Hayling Ferry
  23. Hayling Billy Project history. Havant Borough Council website. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  24. 1 2 Holland, Julian (2013). Exploring Britain's Railways. HarperCollins. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-00-750541-8.
  25. "The Book of Hayling Island and Langstone - More than a Millennium". Rogers, Peter: Tiverton, Halsgrove Press, 2000. ISBN 1-84114-078-3
  26. Hayling Island Amateur Dramatic Society Official website. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  27. http://www.theguardian.com/news/2000/nov/06/guardianobituaries.michaelbillington
  28. http://www.hayling.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=15178
  29. William Page, ed. (1908). "The borough of Southampton: General historical account". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3,. British History Online. pp. 490–524. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  30. 1 2 West Hayling Local Nature Reserve Havant Borough Council website. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  31. http://www.hayling-cycle-ride.org.uk
  32. http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/cyclists-celebrate-as-funds-total-tops-163-1m-1-1282251
  33. http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/cyclists-en-route-to-163-1m-paris-challenge-1-1266480
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