|Population:||7,000 (est. 2006)|
West Mersea (formerly spelt Mersey) is a small town on Mersea Island, on the Essex coast, south of Colchester. It is the larger of the two places on the island, the smaller being the village of East Mersea. The island is joined to mainland Essex by a causeway exposed only at low tide.
The West Mersea Yacht Club is a notable centre for sailing on the East coast. The town also boasts an RNLI lifeboat station. The town hosts an annual regatta, usually in August each year, known as Mersea Week.
Edward the Confessor granted the island to the abbey of St Ouen in Rouen, France in 1046, and the Priory of West Mersea was established.
In July 1963, the lifeboat station was established next to the West Mersea Yacht Club, one of the first ten inshore lifeboat stations in the British Isles. Originally served by a D class lifeboat, this was replaced by a B class, Atlantic 21, lifeboat in 1972. In 1992, a new boathouse and slipway were opened by the Duke of Kent. In 2001, a B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat was stationed at West Mersea.
The lifeboats are required for the island is surrounded by the sea and though the waters may be sheltered from the beat of the wind on the open sea, fearsome tides rip through the channels. In 1954, a man named Ian Hude decided ill-advisedly to drive along the causeway when the tide was in; his car stopped amidst the waters and when he got out he slipped on the road and the waters racing in with the tide swept him off his feet, off the causeway and he was drowned.
Though a small town, West Mersea has a number of churches, including:
- Church of England: St Peter and St Paul (a Norman church)
- Evangelical Free Church.
- Roman Catholic
West Mersea today
The town is served by a community centre, various shops, restaurants, small hotels, public houses, a petrol station, bank, library, police station and several churches,
West Mersea has attracted a number of retired folk and so many of the town's amenities cater for the more elderly element of he population.
Mersea has a strong sense of community and tradition. A regular publication, the Mersea Courier, lists many local activities. These include Pond Watch, The Night Sky, Christian Viewpoint and Speed Learn.
Additionally the Island is famous for its oysters which are taken up from its oyster beds dating back to the Roman era.
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