The Oysterbed Lagoon

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The lagoon is situated on the site of the old oysterbed workings. Following the dismantling of the railway, this site, to the west of the railway line, became a refuse dump and highways depot. Tipping ceased on the site in 1974. In 1980, a company approached the council with plans to restore shell fish farming. Planning permission was granted but the works were never completed and the company ceased trading in 1987. HBC undertook a major, award winning, project (1996/97) to clear the site and create a nature conservation site at the Oysterbeds. This was very successful and remains so today with many ground-nesting birds using the islands and bunds, surrounding the oysterbed site for breeding. This gives a very rare opportunity for residents and visitors to witness, at very close quarters, Little Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black-headed Gulls, Oystercatchers etc. in breeding colonies. Common Tern returning to the lagoon islands, at dusk, to roost for the night. During high tide, the waders in Langstone harbour have to find places to roost until the tide changes. Such space is at a premium and the bunds (or walls) around the oysterbeds can become packed with birds standing shoulder to shoulder. Flock of Dunlin arriving at a bund Dunlin, Turnstone and Grey Plover at their roost. Oystercatchers roosting on a bund.

More information on the development of the site can be found here.

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6 comments… add one
  • nedrac 11 October, 2012, 1:27 pm
    I recall around 1966 or 1967 visiting a tip at North Hayling, near to be where the Oyster Beds are, with a group of lads from Leigh Park. One of the lads had said that it was an ideal place to find Scalextric cars (presumably rejects from the old Minimodels factory). Of course we found nothing at all of any value.
    It was amazing to see so many people scavenging over the dumped rubbish, a bit like a scene from a TV documentary on life in a 3rd World country. Of course in those days Health and Safety regulations were not very strict and rubbish tips, like the large one that was situated across the water at Broadmarsh, could be easily accessed.
    • peterd 11 October, 2012, 10:21 pm

      Following the closure of the railway and oysterbeds, the dumping of public refuse on the site was a tragic mistake. It spoilt the whole area and cost a fortune to clear. Thanks to the vision of the council, we now have an area to be proud of.

  • ChairmanFish 11 October, 2012, 9:22 pm

    Now under the NWHNR isn’t it?

  • Richard Barton 23 October, 2012, 2:09 pm

    In an all too brief visit to Havant Museum last Saturday I discovered by chance a newspaper cutting from 1888 stating that oysters were spawned in France, overwintered at Hayling Island for three years but sent to summer quarters in Whitstable Bay- the quantity moved being 700 tons. In the Forum there is a reference to an accident at South Hayling in 1892 involving a train of 4 wagons of oysters from Whitstable. There is a South Eastern railway record of 26 April 1895 describing 7 tons of oysters being loaded in two wagons at Whitstable for Hayling island. Does anyone know how long this trade lasted and how the oysters  were transported- in barrels for example?

    • peterd 27 October, 2012, 7:56 pm

      Hi Richard,

      I visited Noel Pyecroft 26 Oct 2012 and asked him about the oyster carriers. When the Oysters were shipped off the island they were carried in hessian sacks. At the Oysterbeds, the oysters were carried in 3/8″ sq mesh trays, 2″ high, 6′ long and 3′ wide. Noel believes that some are still around – apparantly they were used for fencing following closure of the Oysterbeds. I shall see if I can find some.


  • peterd 23 October, 2012, 3:15 pm

    Hello Richard,

    Thanks for posting the information regarding the Oyster Trade. Some of this is very new to me and it is great to have it so well summarized here by you. As far as I know, the Oyster farming continued to about 1970 (well after the railway closed). I am not sure how they were conveyed but it would be a very interesting article to produce for the website if anyone has the time to do the research and write it up. To add to the mystery of the Oyster trade at North Hayling, I have a copy of plans for a Oyster Platform at North hayling which, as far as I have been able to find out, was never built. There was also ‘talk’ of a siding for the Oyster Trade at North Hayling but again, I have not been able to establish if it had ever been built. I do know that track was donated, as part of the compensation to the Oyster Company, when the railway abandoned the Langstone Harbour embankment route. Lots of interesting loose ends for research.

    Best wishes