Solent Protection Society ‘Away Day’ 2019

This year our ‘Away Day’ to Eling Tide Mill took place on 7th October, a month later than usual in order to fit in with the availability of the Mill for a private visit.

Eling is in the centre of our region, close to Totton, at the head of Southampton Water. There has been a tide mill at Eling for over 900 years and the current Mill is over 200 years old, having been rebuilt c.1785 after storm damage in the 1770s. It is one of only two tide mills still operating in the UK. It was re-opened in 2018 as a fully operational flour mill after a restoration funded by a Heritage Lottery grant, to provide “The Eling Experience”. This includes the Mill itself, the visitor centre and a walk around Bartley Water (the mill pond). The Mill is a Grade II* listed building. The visitor centre includes a café and a museum. At the entrance to the Mill there is a small gift shop. Using the same method as millers from days gone by, freshly milled wholemeal flour is available for sale in the gift shop. The wheat, which is milled at Eling, comes from a local farm – Manor of Cadland – and carries the New Forest Marque.

The Mill is located on the seaward side of the causeway across Eling Creek. When the tide comes in, it pushes open one-way gates and fills up the millpond. When the tide turns and starts to ebb, it slowly uncovers the waterwheel, but the sea gates are closed, trapping the water in the millpond so the level in the millpond stays at the high tide level. When the tide has dropped to well below the waterwheel axle, the sluice gate can be raised. Water from the millpond strikes the lower blades of the waterwheel, spinning it round and allowing the milling to begin.

The photograph is an aerial view of Eling Creek facing East. In the centre is the artificial causeway which was once the main road from Southampton to Hythe and Beaulieu. The Mill is the red-roofed building on the causeway and the visitor centre is the white-roofed building to the left. The lake in the foreground is Bartley Water, the tidal pond which stores the water to drive the mill. In the distance, top right of photo is Goatee beach, which faces Southampton docks across the River Test.

For much of the mill’s life it was owned by Winchester College. A lease survives from the year 1418, when the College leased the mill to Thomas Mydlington, requiring him to maintain the mill and the causeway. The causeway was prone to collapse, for example it washed away in 1887. This problem continued up until 1940 when modern engineering calculations revealed the cause to be the design of the sluices. This was then corrected.

The tenancy of the mill included the right to collect tolls from vehicles using the causeway. Four-wheeled vehicles were charged 6d (2.5p) and two-wheeled vehicles 4d. These rates remained unchanged until 1970. In 1967, the toll collector was Tom Mackrell who had been one of the last people to operate the mill when it closed in 1946. Tom was toll collector and mill foreman, working for his brother Raymond, master miller of Eling Tide Mill. Having been out of action since then, the mill reopened in 1980.

This visit provided an opportunity to see two sides of your Society’s work – protection of ancient sites such as the Tide Mill, and mitigation of the effects of near-by large-scale industry such as the mountain of containers stored by Associated British Ports at the entrance to Eling Creek, top left of the photograph.

A blot on the landscape at Eling – ABP’s unsightly storage for empty shipping containers.

A Postcard from Bembridge and St Helens.

The Bembridge and St Helens area has an interesting history. The Harbour has been known historically as Brading Haven. In Roman times, small trading ships were worked up the Eastern River Yar to the quay at Brading. The estuary was much larger and extended across the area which is now Brading Marshes, forming a much larger inlet or estuary. In early medieval times Bembridge village grew from a few dwellings on the point to become a collection of hamlets and Brading was an important port for the Island. The Bembridge peninsular was cut off from the main Island by water or a marshy area near Brading, at the top of the Haven, and was known as “Binbridge Isle”.

The topography of the harbour we know today is largely due to the draining of a major portion of the old Brading Haven for agriculture. The drained portion forms Brading Marshes, now a nature reserve. There are four documented attempts to drain the Haven, the most recent of which was completed in the 1870s and shaped the current harbour. The main embankment was eventually built for the railway and lies inland of the current embankment road. The result was disastrous for the future of the harbour; the smaller area has a reduced tidal prism (the amount of water flowing in and out on each tide) and most of the flow of water from the Eastern Yar River was blocked with sluice gates. The reduced tidal prism, combined with the sluice gates, limited the capacity of the tide to transport sediment through and out of the harbour estuary, causing the serious silting with which the Harbour Company and harbour users struggle today. Dredging is essential to keep the harbour open. Silting is further exacerbated by the north westerly longshore drift along the beach on the Bembridge side of the entrance some of the beach protection groynes are over 100 years old and have been allowed to fall into disrepair. Sand is carried by both wind and longshore drift along the beach in the direction of the harbour entrance. Currently there is an organised initiative to raise money to rebuild the groyne on Bembridge Point on the
south easterly side of the harbour entrance. Without a major seawall or strong groyne reaching from the harbour entrance out towards the St Helens Fort, total prevention of the longshore drift would be impossible, but the rebuilding of the main Bembridge Point groyne may well be successful in reducing the build-up of sand inside the harbour entrance. This is a large undertaking and estimates are nearing a quarter of a million pounds.

Currently the harbour is privately owned and the owners have recently invested in a dredger which will greatly assist in keeping the harbour open, hopefully ensuring the continued success of Bembridge Harbour as a sailing, fishing and watersports venue.

The Solent Protection Society (SPS) maintains a strong policy regarding the view of coastal land from the sea and this includes maintaining the wooded aspects of the Island shore, minimising development and associated lighting in the coastal woodland areas. The SPS therefore responded strongly to the planning application by Aria Resorts, which has bought the Priory Bay Hotel and who applied for a number of “tree houses” and chalets to be built in the woods immediately above Priory Bay. SPS is pleased to report that the campaign was successful in preventing houses being built in the woodland.

The Bembridge and St Helens area has much of interest to the naturalist. The harbour is a Ramsar Site and the immediate area lies within the Solent European Marine Sites conservation zone. The recently designated Bembridge MCZ (Marine Conservation Zone) covers the offshore coastal area and is considered one of the most biologically diverse marine reserves in the country. The RSPB Brading Marshes Reserve has been under a major management programme for some years to create and maintain the area primarily for waders. The proximity of the relatively peaceful and organically rich mudflats, combined with the careful management of the invertebrates and water levels on the marsh, has provided an important habitat for overwintering and breeding waders. Bitterns were heard booming in the reedbeds last year and are believed to have bred this year, and a recently released white tailed eagle (sea eagle) was photographed on the marsh at
the end of August.

The harbour, marsh and coastal area comprise a mosaic of interesting SSSIs including the St Helens Duver fixed dune and grassland, several saline lagoons and the Whitecliff Bay to Bembridge Ledges SSSI with its interesting limestone tidal rock formations and clay outcrops. This all makes for a wonderful yearround birding, botanical and general natural history experience for all ages and levels of expertise.

The historian is spoilt for choice. The Roman Villa at Brading is very well curated and presented. The huge Bembridge Fort on Culver Down (National Trust) was completed in 1867 to deter attack from the French under Napoleon lll. It was active in both world wars. There are also the remains of the World War ll gun emplacements on Culver Down, all of which speak of more recent history. In previous centuries the fleet would anchor off St Helens to collect local water which was proven to stay fresh for longer than mainland fresh water on extended voyages. Nelson is rumoured to have spent time in St Helens! The Solent offshore forts were also built to protect the Solent from the French fleet. St Helens Fort was built in 1859 to give protection to ships in St Helens Roads anchorage. Fortunately a major attack by Napoleon lll never came.

Reconfiguration of Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour

The Beaulieu River marina at Buckler’s Hard will, over the next two winters, undergo major reconfiguration with a £2m investment. The project will be carried out in two out of season phases, with the first beginning this October and offering improved facilities and a greater number of more convenient walk-ashore berths by March. The second phase will begin the following autumn, with completion of the extended marina providing an extra 66 berths and additional large moorings by March 2021.

Since opening in 1971 and with one subsequent extension, the yacht harbour has remained largely unaltered. The new plans, which have been approved by the Marine Management Organisation and New Forest National Park Authority, will accommodate current market requirements while continuing to preserve the harbour’s unique character.

The private custodianship of the Montagu family has protected the Beaulieu River for over four centuries, as one of the few privately owned rivers in the world. The Beaulieu Estate is working with agencies including Natural England and the Environment Agency to continue to protect its unique habitats and species. Beaulieu Enterprises Managing Director Russell Bowman said: “The reconfiguration will keep a similar look and feel to the existing yacht harbour, while providing a greater choice of berths and better accessibility in the future. We recognise that the Beaulieu River is a very special place and are committed to undertaking the project in a sensitive and sustainable way. Its unique character remains of paramount importance to us.”

A restaurant, bar and tea shop are nearby at the 18th century shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard, with its Maritime Museum. Reconfiguration of Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour Specialist marina consultancy Marina Projects, based in Gosport, has been appointed to manage the project and the work is being carried out by locally based Walcon Marine. The project designs have included environmentally friendly features. Walcon fitted the first pontoons for the original marina nearly 50 years ago and much of the current infrastructure remains in good enough condition to re-use for the future. New designs will also enable existing piles to become a key part of the refurbishment, where they are able to be re-used. The project will also trial the replacement of some of the river’s swinging moorings with environmentally friendly alternatives, disturbing less of the river bed and using floating ropes instead of chains.

Queen Elizabeth – the carrier – comes home

Five years ago, two sections of the Royal Navy’s first new generation aircraft carrier left the shipbuilding yard in Portsmouth  en route for Rosyth, where final assembly of the ship was to take place.  It was to be the first time that a major ship for the Royal Navy would be built in sections, in multiple yards around the British Isles.

On Wednesday 16th August 2017, ‘Big Lizzie’ as she’s already affectionately known, came home to her home base in Portsmouth for the first time, greeted by a large crowd of well wishers who’d turned out early to line the waterfront between Southsea Castle and Old Portsmouth. I wasn’t the only member of the SPS Council up at 5:30 in the morning to be sure of a close up view.  In fact, I’d been awake at 3:30 that morning and had checked on Marine Traffic so see whether she really was in the area.  No doubt about it, clearly spinning her wheels in Freshwater Bay, waiting for the tide and the waiting crowds. Continue reading “Queen Elizabeth – the carrier – comes home”

Bembridge Harbour Trust to renew bid

Posted on 07 May 2011

Bembridge Harbour Trust                            News Release 26 April, 2011
Bembridge Harbour Trust to renew bid for Bembridge Harbour.
Following the collapse of the two companies that operate Bembridge harbour into administration, Bembridge Harbour Trust will renew its attempts to buy the harbour and associated properties.
This was announced by the chairman of the Trustees, Michael MacInnes, following funding meetings in Bembridge over the Easter weekend.
Meanwhile the harbour is continuing to be operated as a going concern by the administrators who are expected to package the two companies into one for sale shortly.
The Trust, a charity, was formed nearly four years ago by concerned local residents who feared that the future of the harbour was threatened by years of neglect and poor maintenance.
The Trust’s principal aim is to buy the harbour, restore it and to ensure its ownership in perpetuity for the benefit of the local communities and users of the harbour.
Last year, the Trust made three bids for the harbour, having taken professional advice on the valuation of the harbour and its properties, but these were rejected as too low by the then owner.
“We now have a marvellous opportunity finally to buy the harbour and, if we are successful, put right years of neglect that threaten the future of the harbour as a ‘working’ harbour for sailors, fishermen and marine businesses alike”, said Mr. MacInnes. “We are ready to take on this responsibility for the benefit of everybody who enjoys the harbour for its sailing, wild life, angling, walking or as one of the Isle of Wight’s major tourist and recreational amenities”.
Mr MacInnes said that the new owner of the harbour would have to spend immediately in the region of £1/2m dredging the harbour as this had not been done for eight years and water levels were very low in places. Other urgent remedial work would have to be carried out on the pontoons, the quay walls and visiting sailors’ amenities; all at considerable cost.
Mr MacInnes and Mr Chris Attrill have already had a preliminary meeting with the administrators and advised them of the Trust wish to bid.
The Trust has over 170 founder members drawn mainly from residents in Bembridge, St. Helens, Brading and Seaview and has four distinguished patrons, Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, Lord Brabazon of Tara, Peter Nicholson CBE and Maldwin Drummonds OBE as well as an advisory board representing many local business and social interests.

“With our members and advisers, we also have wide commercial support through the local communities who have the skills and expertise so we can get the harbour up and running properly again – if we get the chance to buy it,” said Mr. MacInnes.<br> Further information:<br> Michael MacInnes, chairman Bembridge Harbour Trust: tel.: 018983 872108 or email: <a href=”” data-mce-href=””></a><br> Donald Biddle, trustee, Bembridge Harbour Trust: Tel.: 01983 875561 or email: <a href=”” data-mce-href=””></a><br> Note. Bembridge Harbour Improvements Company and Maritime and Leisure Investments Limited were placed in administration on 13 April following a winding up petition by HM Customs and Revenue.<br> Bembridge Harbour Trust is a registered charity, number 1120225 and is also a company limited by guarantee under company number 05671595.

Bembridge Harbour Trust T: 01983 872319 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01983 872319 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting E:

LHC Update November 2010

Posted on 01 Dec 2010

Lymington Harbour Commissioners

Stakeholder Update – November 2010 Review of ‘W’ Class Ferry Operations & Marine Safety


In 2009, Lymington Harbour Commissioners appointed BMT Isis to conduct an independent review of ferry operations and marine safety on the river during the busy summer season. Their report also analysed ferry related incidents and undertook a review of the risk assessments related to ferry operations. Their report, was published in November 2009 and is available for download from the LHC website. Although the report contained a number of recommendations for further improvement, it concluded  “…that the low level of marine risk on the Lymington River had not been compromised by the introduction of the W-Class ferries.”  The report also concluded “… that the risk management approach adopted by LHC in respect of the introduction of the W-Class ferries complies with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety Code.”


To comply with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety Code, an on-going review of the marine risk management on the river is required. To facilitate this, LHC again chose to appoint BMT Isis to undertake a review of ferry operations related to marine safety on the river for the 12 month period following the 2009 review.  The purpose of the review was to:

a) Assess the interaction of ferries/other craft on the river with particular regard to compliance with International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (the Colregs); b) Review compliance with the ferry Safe Operating Profile (SOP); c) Assess the extent to which recommendations made in the November, 2009 report were being observed; d) Analyse reported  ferry related incidents for the period 1st October 2009 to 30th September 2010 and compare with the previous year; e) Revisit the risk register in the light of (a) to (d) and modify if necessary; f) Make further recommendations as necessary.

As part of the review, members of the BMT team also undertook observations on the river on four dates identified by LHC in consultation with the yacht/sailing clubs as likely to see high traffic density on the river. An “incognito” visit was also undertaken.

BMT Isis have now released their report (dated November 2010), a copy of which is available for download from the LHC website at


The principal conclusions include:

1) The risk control measures in place are working well and have resulted in a further reduction in the already low level of risk on the river. 2) There was a health reduction in reported incidents (including ferry related) over the previous year. 3) Ferries and leisure users continue to find a way to ‘co-exist’ on the river aided by good compliance with the Colregs by most users. 4) Compliance by the ferries with the Safe Operating Profile was good. 5) Compliance with the recommendations made in the previous report was good. 6) Harbour Master patrols remained effective in improving compliance with the ‘rules of the road’, and in providing education and guidance when required. 7) Wind shadow effects were observed but generally handled well by the helms of affected boats. Awareness of wind shadow effects had improved in the light of experience and through circulation of information by LHC and the sailing/yacht clubs. 8) Interaction with Wednesday Junior Sailing continued to be safely managed and well organised. 9) Ferry wash was not observed to be a significant problem albeit their remains a need to continue to manage the final approach to the berth and the use of thrust when on the berth using the existing control procedures. The proposed modifications to the ferry berth will further improve safety in this area. 10) There were some further recommendations for revisions to the Safe Operating Profile in the light of a further year of operational experience.

Lymington Harbour Commissioners are pleased to note that BMT Isis have found that safety management on the river  continues to improve and warmly welcomes the efforts of the sailing clubs, Wightlink, and other organisations for the work undertaken to ensure this remains the case.

Peter Griffiths