In a remote town with only one road leading in and out, locals say it’s like taking a trip “back in time.”
There is only one way to get to Mersea Island, Essex, by taking the Strood – a road that floods at high tide, leaving residents cut off from the outside world.
But homeowners love its bustling market town, full of shops, restaurants, and attractions that draw tourists.
Narrated proud local Debbie Moore EssexLive: “It’s like going back to when the world was 40 years ago, when everyone knew their neighbors and people on the street said good morning and good evening.”
“It takes me back to when everyone had time for each other.”
In fact, the center manager at the Mersea Island Center likes the fact that his route out of town gets flooded at high tide.
“We love it. Because we’re completely cut off for that time,” added the 61-year-old.
“It’s a real community.
“Everyone takes care of each other. Nobody has to be on their own.”
Another local, Tim Gannon, hated the idea of building a bridge over the Strood. He said, “We don’t need to change, and neither do people want the change.”
“They want it to stay the way it’s always been.”
Smart locals are never caught off guard by the changing tides, according to Debbie, who explains that a free timetable keeps everyone safe.
Rescue planes can be dispatched in an emergency and the island has its own fire station.
Meanwhile, dedicated resident Linda Sterry, who has lived in the area for 25 years, explained that the doctor’s office and elementary school have not changed since she was there.
And the rest of the city is keeping to the traditions, too: some shops close at midday, others close at midday on Wednesdays – and many close entirely on Sundays.
However, some residents fear that their hometown will be modernized with the construction of new properties.
They live in fear that their small island will not be able to cope with the influx of new residents.
Linda, 75, said: “When it rains a lot there is flooding and in the summer there are twice as many people because of the campers.”
Another major problem with the new builds is their prohibitive price tag for many of the existing locals looking to move up the real estate ladder.
Tim, 50, and manager of Mersea Community Center MICA, said: “It upsets a lot of local people because we have a school and a doctor’s office, these are not big schools, not big doctors.”
“It’s just not sustainable.”
TIMES ARE CHANGING
Another new development, according to local residents, is the increase in crime.
Linda pointed out that some people are taking advantage of the fact that there is no police station on Mersea Island after the closure.
“There was a time when we didn’t see any police officers on the island at all,” she said.
But now there’s a patrolman on the island in case of an emergency.
Other officers have to travel from Colchester and it can take up to 20 minutes to reach West Mersea.
Although Tim estimated they had arrived within 15 minutes, he wondered if crime really was a big problem or not.
Overall, Mersea Island homeowners expressed their gratitude for their hometown and praised its strong sense of community.
Debbie said she had nowhere else to live and, “I felt like I had always been here and should have been here.”
“I like to come home. When I’ve been on vacation you know you’re home as soon as you walk past the Strood,” agreed Linda.
“It smells wonderfully fresh when the tide goes out. It’s a lovely place to live.”