The sea wall to the east of Leysdown
Leysdown-on-Sea shown within Kent
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A very small hamlet up to late Victorian times, it was developed a little after the arrival of the Sheppey Light Railway in 1903, though grand plans for the establishment of a large resort with hotels never materialised. The railway was closed in the 1950s.
On 2 May 1909, John Moore-Brabazon became the first resident British citizen to make a recognised powered heavier-than-air flight in the UK flying from The Aero Club's ground at Leysdown in his Voisin biplane Bird of Passage.
Leysdown is located a mile to the SSE of Warden and three miles to the ESE of Eastchurch. To the SSE lies the hamlet of Shellness and to the southwest is an area of marshland known as the Leysdown marshes. To the northeast is the North Sea, with a shingle beach and mudflats extending out to sea. It is recommended in the 2009 Good Beach Guide.
There are several large farms surrounding the village, with a mixture of pasture and arable land, but the local economy is primarily driven by tourism in the summer months, with many visitors coming from London. Leysdown has one of the largest concentrations of holiday parks in Kent, with many caravan and chalet parks. During the winter months the shops, clubs and pubs stay open, with the population of Leysdown, Warden and Bay View providing custom. In the past few years a boot fair has become a regular fixture on Sundays and there is also a market on Saturdays.
Briefly, in the early 20th century a significant part of the economy came from the embryonic aviation industry, with the UK's first aircraft factory built in Leysdown in 1909 by the Short Brothers. By the following year, however, operations had moved to nearby Eastchurch.
Leysdown is well known for its family amusement arcades adjacent to the sea. There are 6 arcades, each with its own 18-only section with high jackpots. Some arcades give tickets from their many machines which can be exchanged for small trinkets, toys and other prizes.
The Spinney is an area of open space in the middle of Leysdown, with children's play area and benches. It takes its name from the woodland that was present there until the 1960s.
The B2231 is the only road into Leysdown, with regular bus services from Arriva providing public transport links to the rest of the Island and the mainland. There was formerly a bus station in Leysdown but it was demolished in the early 1990s. The Sheppey Light Railway formerly provided a rail link to the rest of the Island but was dismantled in the 1950s.
There are no schools in Leysdown. The nearest primary school is Eastchurch Primary School situated on Leysdown Road, Warden, while the nearest secondary school is Minster Academy.
On the outskirts of Leysdown is the church graveyard. It is all that remains of St Clements Church, which was demolished in the 1980s.
Sheppey Evangelical Church is the nearest active religious site, with All Saints Church in Eastchurch being the nearest traditional church.
- Rymill, John (2006). The Three Sheppey Islands in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Tonbridge: Green Arrow Publishing. ISBN 0-9551431-5-2.
- "Kent Places - Place names - L". BBC Kent. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- Fryer, Jonathan (September 2008). "Where British aviation began". The Journal of Kent History 67: 18–19.
- "Good Beach Guide recommended beaches". The Guardian (London). 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "Kent Parish Councils". Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "Photo of Leysdown in the 1960s". Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- ".The east side of the beach - often called Shellness - is an official nudist beach. ", 12 Oct 2011, The Telegraph
- Leysdown, UK Naturist Fact File
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