Sandown Bay

Sandown Bay is a broad open bay which stretches for much of the length of the Isle of Wight's southeastern coast. It extends 8 12 miles (13.7 km) from Culver Down and Yaverland in the northeast to just south of Shanklin in the southwest, near the village of Luccombe.[1] Near Luccombe, the bay is separated from The Undercliff by a large headland from which Upper Ventnor sits atop. The towns of Shanklin, Lake and Sandown are located on the bay's coast, while Luccombe and Upper Ventnor feature panoramic views across both Sandown Bay to the East and the Undercliff to the southwest. Due to the bay being relatively sheltered from offshore winds it is often used as temporary anchorage point for boats,[2] including large cargo ships, before continuing east towards Continental Europe, or north towards The Solent.

Sandown Bay
Sandown Bay

Sandown Bay at dusk; looking south-west from Culver Down
Sandown Bay is located in Isle of Wight
Sandown Bay
Sandown Bay
Location within the Isle of Wight
Civil parish
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament


Beautiful Britain - The Isle of Wight - by G.E. Mitton - 2 SANDOWN BAY
The white cliffs of Culver Down painted by A. Heaton Cooper^

In the past, the bay had a large military importance as the wide beach offered a good landing-point for an armed invasion of the island. To protect against a French or Spanish invasion Henry VIII built Sandown Castle in the centre of the bay as part of his chain of coastal defences to protect the South-Coast of England. However, the castle was still under construction during the French invasion of the Isle of Wight of 1545 when it was overwhelmed.[2] This castle fell into disrepair due to coastal erosion and was demolished in 1631, though the remains of the foundations of the castle are still visible along the shore at low tide.[3] Sandown Fort, also known as the Diamond Fort after its arrow-headed bastions, this was built using the remains of the old castle further up the coast.[2]

As a result of its sandy beach and good weather, Sandown and Shanklin grew rapidly in the Victorian era as tourists from across both the Island and the country came to enjoy the seaside thanks to new the transportation connections of the railway and paddle steamers.[4] This transformed a relatively sparsely populated area into bustling seaside resorts, new developments included a large promenade, large seafront Victorian hotels and the 875 foot Sandown Pier (originally 360 ft when opened in 1879).[5] A lot of Victorian-influenced architecture can still be seen throughout the bay.


Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight, UK (2)
Sandown Bay at Lake, looking north-east towards Sandown, with Yaverland and Culver Down in the distance

Sandown Bay is an excellent example of a concordant coastline and has well-developed sandy beaches stretching all the way from Shanklin to Culver Down due to Longshore drift.[6] The bay has over 5 miles of unbroken sandy beach, making it one of the longest beaches in the British Isles.[7] The area has weak sandstone cliffs which vary from 30 to 130 feet (10 to 40 m), these have suffered from erosion and instability in the past. The risk of cliff-failures affecting populated tourist areas led the Isle of Wight Council to commission a report and an extensive structural stabilisation programme in 1988.[8]

The bay is best viewed from Culver Down to the north. The Isle of Wight Coastal Path follows the whole bayline either along the cliff top to the south of Sandown or the concrete seawall north of Sandown.[9]

The bay itself has a seabed consisting of a mixture of sand, shells and gravel with shallow waters out till about one-quarter of a nautical mile (1,500 ft; 460 m).[2] The total area of the bay is 5 square miles (13 km2).[7]

Economy and tourism

The economy of the bay is dominated by retail and hospitality sectors due to the large amount of tourism it receives, an estimate of 500,000 visitors annually, though the average earnings of people living around the bay are approximately 10% below the national average.[7] A local action-plan, the Bay Area Action Plan, has been set up in 2016 for the development of the bay for the next 15 years. It plans to get local and national funding with the aim to improve public spaces and increase the level of tourism.[7] The bay has a combined total of 21,374 inhabitants.[10]


  • ^ From the Beautiful Britain series, The Isle of Wight, by G. E. Mitton, 1911. Caption: The white cliffs of Culver Down are the eastward end of the rib of chalk which has its other extremity at the Needles.


  1. ^ Google (5 September 2018). "Sandown Bay" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Sandown Bay". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  3. ^ William Page, ed. (1912), "Parishes: Brading", British History Online, retrieved 20 June 2015; "Sandown Castle", Historic England; Adams 1884, p. 200
  4. ^ "History of Sandown, Isle of Wight". Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Sandown Pier". National Piers Society. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Isle of Wight Shoreline Management Plan 2" (PDF). Isle of Wight Council. December 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d "Coastal Communities Economic Plan, Sandown Bay" (PDF). Coastal Communities Alliance. May 2016.
  8. ^ "Geotechnical Study Area G9, Sandown Bay Cliffs" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Coastal Path Sandown to Ryde" (PDF).
  10. ^ "2011 Rural-Urban Classification of Local Authority and other higher level geographies for statistical purposes" (PDF). DEFRA. 1 May 2014.

External links

Bembridge Fort

Bembridge Fort (map reference SZ624861) is a fort built on the highest point of Bembridge Down close to the village of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. It is one of the many Palmerston Forts built around Portsmouth during the period of the Second French Empire, as a safeguard against a perceived threat of French invasion by Napoleon III.

The hexagonally shaped fort was the main stronghold for the South East coastline of the Isle of Wight and was designed as a final retreat if the island was to be invaded. Due to its location with a view over both Sandown Bay and the Eastern Solent it acted as the command and control centre for the Western batteries on the Isle of Wight (Redcliff Battery, Yaverland Battery, Sandown Fort and Sandown Barrack Battery). The fort had barrack accommodation for 4 officers and 106 men with an original armament of six RBL 7 inch Armstrong guns mounted on the parapet side.

Brading Down

Brading Down is a chalk down southwest of Brading, Isle of Wight. It is a prominent hill which overlooks Sandown Bay, with views across the bay towards Shanklin, Sandown and Culver Down. It is a Local Nature Reserve.Parts of the down are private, including an area used as a covered reservoir, and some for agriculture. However, much of the down, approximately 35 hectares (86 acres), is open to the public and is owned by the Isle of Wight Council. The main area of Brading Down is fenced and grazed but access on foot and for horse riders is available from the many pathways entering the area, and the car parks bordering the main Newport to Brading Road.

The thin chalk soils to the east of the site support a typical downland plant community with pyramidal orchids being a particular feature in the summer. In recent years, a programme of scrub clearance has been undertaken. The area is good for butterflies including common blue, chalkhill blue, small, large and dingy skippers, marbled white, gatekeeper, and meadow brown.In addition to the wildlife interest of chalk downland, the ancient field system on Brading Down is a Scheduled Monument. The finest surviving ancient field system on the Island is to be found on the down. This is likely to be of late Iron Age or Roman date and highlights the last time the fields were ploughed. The views over Brading Roman Villa and Sandown Levels reinforce the historical significance of the area. Further down the slopes, First World War practice trenches and former chalk pits show evidence of more recent archaeological interest.

Brook, Isle of Wight

Brook is a village on the Isle of Wight, England. According to the Post Office the 2011 census population was included in the civil parish of Brighstone.

Horseshoe Bay, Isle of Wight

Horseshoe Bay is a small bay on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies at the east end of the headland of Culver Down. It faces south-east towards the English Channel and its shoreline is approximately 100 yards (90 m) in length. It should not be confused with a similarly named Horseshoe Bay about 8 miles (13 km) southwest at Bonchurch.The seabed is rocky and the beach comprises a steep bank of flint pebbles. The cliffs are sheer, concave and are made of chalk, which is unstable and persons on the beach are at risk of being injured by falling rocks dislodged by the many seabirds that use the cliff as a breeding ground. Horseshoe Bay lies north-north-east and adjacent to, two caves known as The Nostrils. These can be reached by scrambling over a small rocky outcrop and are partly submerged at high tide.

The beach can only be reached at high tide by boat; but in low tide it can be reached at beach level from the headland from Whitecliff Bay. At a certain time of the year, on very low tides, it is possible to reach Horseshoe Bay from Sandown Bay. Walking to the bay should only be attempted on an ebb, a falling tide. This entails some scrambling and a short traverse even at extreme low tide across the submerged base of the cliff between an old collapsed cave and the nostrils. The coastguard and the lifeboats (rescue) are sometimes called to rescue people trapped by a rising tide, or unable to cope with the terrain.

Lake, Isle of Wight

Lake is a large village and civil parish located on Sandown Bay, on the Isle of Wight, England. It is six miles south-east of Newport situated between Sandown and Shanklin, and 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) to the east of the hamlet of Apse Heath.

Lake railway station

Lake railway station is a station on the Isle of Wight serving the village of Lake, situated in a quiet residential area not far from Lake Cliff Gardens and the beach at Sandown Bay. Until the construction of an interchange station with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction in 1991, this station was the newest on the island having opened by British Rail in 1987. The Station is formed of only a single wooden platform with a shelter. The trains that serve this station are Class 483s (London Underground 1938 Stock).

Marine Villa

Marine Villa (also known as Greentiles and Villa Judapa) is an Art-Deco house located on the clifftop in Shanklin Isle of Wight and is famous locally on the Island but little known beyond its shores. It was known originally as "Green Tiles" and was commissioned by the Cater family from London, and was designed by local architect Ernest L Smith to take advantage of the vistas across Sandown Bay. The house was built in 1929 and takes full advantage of its cliff-top location, and is probably one of the Isle of Wight’s most distinctive properties. All main living and bedrooms have large windows topped by stained glass detail, framing the vistas. Art-Deco influences include an upstairs sun room with huge sliding picture windows. In 1933, Clara Cater died, and the house was sold.

It would appear that the most influential owners of the House, were the colourful local characters Horace Terry Wood and his wife Sadie, who purchased the house and lived and partied there for many years.

They were responsible for installing the distinctive Art Deco pond and garden design, as these did not previously exist as evidenced by the 1933 particulars of sale. Sadie also installed on brick patio on the lawn facing the sea, two statues of the Great Dane dogs she had been raised with.Wood owned the Shanklin Brewery, several hotels on the island (including the Holliers) and most significantly, Shanklin Pier housing Shanklin Casino and concert theatre which hosted many evening entertainment events. It is documented in several books that Terry Woods hosted many after-show parties at their home, entertaining stars of the time such as Arthur Askey, Jimmy Tarbuck and Tommy Trinder. The house had an art deco bar installed, made of glass bricks illuminated by coloured lights.During their tenure they renamed the house Villa Judapa, after their daughters Judith and Daphne. It is not clear when the house was renamed Marine Villa.

Palmerston Forts, Isle of Wight

The Palmerston Forts are a group of forts and associated structures built during the Victorian period on the recommendations of the 1860 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom. The name comes from their association with Lord Palmerston, who was Prime Minister at the time and promoted the idea.

The structures were built as a response to a perceived threat of a French invasion. The works were also known as Palmerston's Follies as, by the time they were completed the threat (if it had ever existed) had passed, largely due to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and technological advancements leading to the guns becoming out-of-date.As well as new structures, extensive modifications were made to existing defences.

The defences on the Isle of Wight were built to protect the approaches to the Solent, Southampton and Portsmouth. They consist of three separate groups, those at the western end of the island, those at the eastern end, and four built in the Solent.

The information in the tables is taken from documents for each site, from the Victorian Forts website.

Richard Burchett

Richard Burchett (1815–1875) was a British artist and educator on the fringes of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who was for over twenty years the Headmaster of what later became the Royal College of Art.

He was later described as "a prominent figure in the art-schools, a well-instructed painter, and a teacher exceptionally equipped with all the learning of his craft" by his ex-pupil, the poet Austin Dobson. Burchett's pupils included the extremely varied talents of Kate Greenaway, Christopher Dresser, Elizabeth Thompson (Lady Butler), Sir George Clausen, Sir Luke Fildes, Gertrude Jekyll, Hubert von Herkomer, William Harbutt and Helen Allingham. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Queen Victoria's daughter, and a talented artist, was also a student.As an artist he achieved some reputation for large history paintings, and decorated public buildings including parts of the Palace of Westminster and the Victoria and Albert Museum, but his View across Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight is seen by modern art historians as his best work. Burchett published collections of his lectures as text-books for the South Kensington system of art education, which he helped to devise.

Ryde Academy

Ryde Academy, is an academy status Secondary school, including sixth form, located in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, England.

Sailing at the 2011 Island Games

Sailing at the 2011 Island Games was held from 25 June–1 July 2011 at the Yaverland Sailing Club & Sandown Bay.


Sandown is a seaside resort and civil parish on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England, with the town of Shanklin to the south and the settlement of Lake in between.

Sandown is the northernmost town of Sandown Bay, known for its long stretches of easily accessible, sandy beach.

The outer Bay is also used as a sheltered anchorage, with ships requiring salvage periodically towed there (such as the Tarpenbeck). The wreck of a salvage tug could be seen until recently at low tide under Culver Cliff, (the Harry Sharman) which had been assisting the stricken tanker Pacific Glory in the 1970s.

Together with Shanklin, Sandown forms a built-up area of 21,374 inhabitants.

Sandown (1786 ship)

Sandown does not appear in Lloyd's Register. A Sandown does appear in Lloyd's Register between 1789 and 1798, but it is a different vessel from the Sandown of this article, though the two vessels are sometimes conflated.

In January 1786 Sandown, a foreign-built ship, had grounded at Sandown Bay on the back of the Isle of Wight. She had since been repaired.On 28 July 1794, the French privateer Guillotine captured Sandown, Apsey, master, on 28 July at 23°40′N 83°58′W, about 100 miles WNW from Havana. On 2 August, HMS Scorpion captured Guillotine, and recaptured Sandown; Scorpion took them into Havana. Then on 27 and 28 August Sandown, Apsey, master, was driven ashore at Havana in a hurricane and lost. At the time she was on her way from Jamaica and Havana to London.It is clear from the log of Captain Gamble, master of Sandown (1788) that this Sandown is not Gamble's Sandown. In his account Gamble reports that on 15 August 1794 he had spoken with Mano, which reported that a British sloop-of-war had brought into Havana a privateer and her prize, which had been bound from Jamaica to Liverpool. Gamble further remarked that the merchantman had sailed from Jamaica some 14 days before the fleet that Sandown (1788) was part of had left. The prize money notice for the capture of Guillotine, and the salvage money notice for Sandown above support that the first account above in Lloyd's List is not a false report.

Sandown Barrack Battery

Sandown Barrack Battery (map reference SZ594837) is a battery located in Sandown Bay close to Sandown on the Isle of Wight in England. It is one of the many Palmerston Forts built on the island to protect it in response to a perceived French invasion.

Sandown Bay Academy

Sandown Bay Academy, formerly Sandown High School, was an academy status secondary school located in Sandown on the Isle of Wight, England. From 2012 to 31 August 2018 it was sponsored by the Academies Enterprise Trust. On 31 August 2018, the academy closed.

Sandown Fort

Sandown Fort (map reference SZ597839) is a fort built in Sandown on the Isle of Wight in the middle of Sandown Bay. It is one of the many Palmerston Forts built on the island to protect it in response to a perceived French invasion. It was a replacement of the earlier Sandown Diamond Fort (see Sandown Bay) as in 1859 the Royal Commission felt it did not offer suitable protection. Construction of the fort began in April 1861 and was completed by September 1864 at a cost of £73,876. In later documents it is often referred to as Granite Fort. The fort originally had 18 9-inch R.M.L guns facing the sea behind iron shields, these guns were later upgraded and an extra 5 inches of armor was added.The fort was sold in 1930 but during World War II the fort played a significant role in the D-Day landings as it housed sixteen pumps for the PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) operation to Allies supplied with fuel. Each of the 16 pumps supplied 36,000 imperial gallons (1,000 barrels; 160,000 litres) of fuel per day at a pressure of 1,500 lb per square inch. In the 1950's the site went on to house the Isle of Wight Zoo, which it continues to do so to this day.


Shanklin () is a popular seaside resort and civil parish on the Isle of Wight, England, located on Sandown Bay. Shanklin is the southernmost of three settlements which occupy the bay, and is close to Lake and Sandown. The sandy beach, its Old Village and a wooded ravine, Shanklin Chine, are its main attractions. The esplanade along the beach is occupied by hotels and restaurants for the most part, and is one of the most tourist-oriented parts of the town. The other is the Old Village, at the top of Shanklin Chine.

Together with Lake and Sandown to the north, Shanklin forms a built up area of 21,374 inhabitants (2011).

Whitecliff Bay

Whitecliff Bay is a sandy bay near Foreland which is the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight, England about two miles south-west of Bembridge and just to the north of Culver Down. The bay has as a shorline of around three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) and has a popular sandy shingle beach which is over half a mile long. It is a tourist site with three holiday parks in the vicinity of the bay, it has two cafes though minimal facilities. Access is limited and only possible down two steeply sloping concrete tracks.

The site is of a major geological interest, being part of the Whitecliff Bay And Bembridge Ledges SSSI.


Yaverland is a village on the Isle of Wight, just north of Sandown on Sandown Bay. It has about 200 houses. About ​1⁄3 of a mile away from the village is the Yaverland Manor and Church. Holotype fossils have been discovered here of Yaverlandia and a pterosaur, Caulkicephalus. The White Air extreme sports festival was held annually at Yaverland pay and display car park between 1997 and 2008, but moved to Brighton for 2009.The older part of the village is spread along the road to Bembridge by the Norman Church. The newer part is along the seafront, consisting entirely of a bungalow estate. The name appears to come from a local rendition of "over land" - being the land over the once-tidal causeway. An alternative derivation is from "Yar Island".

In the fields below Yaverland the archaeological television programme Time Team discovered a Roman smithy.

In 1545 a battle took place in Yaverland between French forces and local levies. The French were crossing Culver Down from their landing at Whitecliff Bay in order to attack Sandown Castle and link up with a force from Bonchurch. The French fought their way into Sandown but were defeated at Sandown Castle, then under construction in the sea.

The Isle of Wight Zoo is in Yaverland. The zoo is noted for its collection of rescued tigers and increasingly realistic and spacious enclosures for them. The zoo inhabits much of the converted buildings of the Granite Fort built by Lord Palmerston as a defense against the French in 1860. The grounds were used by the military during World War II as part of the Pluto pipeline to send oil under the English Channel to France to fuel the Allied war efforts.

By the sea is the Yaverland Sailing and Boat Club and along the seashore are fossil-bearing beds, which may be explored by guided walks from Dinosaur Isle. A holiday camp is located further north in the village, and was once the site of Yaverland Battery.

In November 2008, the Isle of Wight Council opened a new public toilet block which runs completely from renewable energy generated on-site. It is thought to be one of the "greenest" facilities in the UK.Southern Vectis bus route 8 links the village with the towns of Newport, Ryde, Bembridge and Sandown, including intermediate towns. Wightbus run route 22 around Culver Way to Sandown, after Southern Vectis withdrew route 10 from the area.

Around the Bays of the Isle of Wight


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