The UK is often described as an Island Nation, and the idea of island living and island culture is rooted strongly in our history and culture. The British Isles is made up of islands of all different shapes and sizes, from the largest (Great Britain) downwards. Every county has its largest island, too. For many that is an offshore island sitting off the coast in the neighbouring oceans or in an estuary or bay. For others the biggest island sits inland, perhaps in a lake or in some cases as an island within one of the county’s rivers. Let’s look at some examples.
Drive into Portsmouth from any direction and it would be easy not to notice that you’ve actually driven on to an island. Portsmouth sits mostly on Portsea Island, low lying and made from the sands, clays and gravels of the north side of The Solent. Its island location has been a key factor in Portsmouth’s history as a naval base. Portsea Island is not only the largest island in Hampshire but is the fifth largest offshore island in England. What’s more, with 147,000 people living on Portsea Island’s 2400ha, it is the most populated offshore island in the UK (Grid Reference SU65500150).
The largest island in Greater London is perhaps more recognisable as an island. Sitting in the stream of the River Thames as it winds through the capital are a number of small river islands (or ‘eyots’ (pronounced ‘eights’) as they are known). Several are well known, such as Chiswick Eyot on the Boat Race course, and Eel Pie Island, but the largest is Platts Eyot at Sunbury in the Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, which is 3.2ha in size (Grid Reference TQ13306910). Platt’s Eyot is large enough to have both residential areas and a boatyard on the island, and is accessible by the footbridge from Sunbury Road.
Some of the county record islands are extremely small, of course. Derbyshire’s largest island is Sandy Point which lies within the River Trent, 1km south east of Willington, south of Derby, and is less than 0.5ha in size. (Grid Reference SK3060280). Similarly Warwickshire’s largest island is only about 0.5ha in size. Barton Island lies within the main channel of the River Avon, 3km south east of Bidford-on-Avon in the south west of the county. It is visible from Welford Rd, 1km east of Barton, but can only be visited if you have access to a boat! (Grid Reference SP11325139).
And where is the largest island in the British Isles other than Great Britain and Ireland? The third largest island is Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides, lying off the west coast of Scotland. At 2179 square kilometres in size, it is about 1% of the size of Great Britain, and is home to about 20,000 people. It is now part of the Western Isles local authority, but was historically split between the counties of Ross and Cromarty (Lewis) and Inverness-shire (Harris) (Grid Reference NB30762955).
What is the largest island in your own home county?
The Must Get Out More Question !
Where is the largest inland island in the UK?
The Answer to the Last Question
Where are (a) the largest and (b) the smallest theatres in the UK?
The largest theatre in the UK is the Hammersmith Apollo in Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith, London W6 9QH, which has a capacity of 3326. The Apollo opened in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace.(Grid Reference TQ23407836)
The smallest permanent theatre in the UK (and which claims also to be the smallest theatre in the world) is The Theatre of Small Convenience in Great Malvern, Worcestershire. Opened in 1999 in a disused public convenience in Edith Walk, it is 5m long and 3m wide and can hold an audience of 12. (This excludes venues such as pubs and churches which ‘pop up’ as theatres for festivals in towns around the UK) (Grid Reference SO77504600)
The Record Locations
You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk