Report for Mark Wilson`s Run on Sunday 5th May

May 20th, 2019

Today was a great day, the 5th of May.
I left home to meet club members from the VJMC & the VMCC at The Granary, Battlesbridge, for a ride out to Foulness Island on the Essex Coast, followed by lunch at the Shorehouse Pub in Shoeburyness. Twenty-five bikes, mainly British and a few Japanese departed at 10am and followed me on a leisurely run through the Essex Countryside. The run went well apart from one member’s Honda which blew the main fuse for no apparent reason.

Perhaps a little history: Foulness Island is separated from the Essex “mainland” by Rivers and creeks but was a thriving farming community until the late 19th century and had developed around two small villages sufficiently to warrant a school, public houses and a Parish Church. The adjacent Maplin Sands had been used by the Army for weapons testing early in the early 1900s and Ministry of Defence wanted to extend the firing ranges by using land on Foulness Island. Local opposition to those plans was eventually overcome and the MOD acquired the Island from private ownership. It is still owned by the MOD and is still used periodically for weapons testing, although that activity is conducted by Quinetic on behalf of the MOD. However, the Island which covers just over nine square miles and is bounded by sea walls, is still home to several farms, and has a permanent population of around 180 people. Yes, farming and weapon testing manage to live “happily” side by side. Although the Island is naturally maintained as a secure location, local by-laws mean that public access is still allowed for a few hours on the first Sunday in every month, allowing access to a thriving Heritage Centre and Museum.

Our motorcycle visit was pre-arranged and all persons participating had provide personal and vehicle details, to allow entry and exit for all to be ticked off. I had also arranged for a guide to meet us at the main security gate. After a guidance talk from a security guard, advising that no photos were to be taken of the military buildings, we were escorted by our host, who drove a very nicely restored Austin Vanden Plas car (very posh!) to our destination – a very interesting Museum/Heritage Centre in the old school.

Welcomed hot drinks and refreshments were available which were very well priced; I was informed by our host, that the eggs in my sandwich came from chickens on the island. After looking around the museum, those that wanted to boarded a covered trailer with straw bales for seats. The trailer was towed by a large tractor, and took us on a guided tour around the island with a running commentary. We all learnt a lot, and were reminded that much of the route was “up-hill” to the Essex coastline – no wonder it was badly flooded in 1953! After the tour we departed on our bikes, being counted again out of the security gate, before most of us headed to our lunch stop. We ate well & chatted about our day. These words don’t even describe the enjoyment we had on this ride; yes it was cold! But it was dry & the camaraderie was all around us. Foulness Island is a very interesting and almost unique place to visit if you have the opportunity!