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I is for Island

Havergate Island

Havergate Island

Havergate Island is the only island in Suffolk and can be found at the meeting of the Rivers Ore and Butley near Orford.  The island was walled for land reclamation over 500 years ago and was used for arable land and grazing until the 1930s.  The trade directories show the gradual decline in population from 6 people in 1861 down to 2 in 1921.

A gravel company tried to establish a shingle extraction operation in 1933 but this proved unprofitable and the island was deserted until the Second World War when the military took it over along with Orford Ness.  Parts of the island were flooded with salt water over the next few years making it unsuitable for future agricultural use.

After the war it was found that avocets had bred on the island and raised a number of chicks.  This was the first time they’d been found in the UK since going extinct over 100 years before.  The RSPB purchased the island in 1948 and it has been a Nature Reserve since then. It is most famous for its avocets, terns and spoonbills.