The Maplin Sands are mudflats on the northern bank of the Thames estuary, off Foulness Island, near Southend-on-Sea in Essex, England, though they actually lie within the neighbouring borough of Rochford. They are valuable as a wildlife reserve, with a large colony of dwarf eelgrass (Zostera noltei) and associated animal communities.
A screw-pile lighthouse was built on the sands in 1838, which was possibly the world's first.
In the later part of the 19th century John I. Thornycroft & Company and Yarrow Shipbuilders used the sands for the measured mile speed trials of their Destroyers. The shallow waters resulted in a flow of water that could add up to a knot to the ship's speed. When the Admiralty found out they required that all future trials be carried out in deep water.
In 1973 plans were proposed and approved for a third airport for London, the Thames Estuary Airport, but were abandoned in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The project would also have included a deep-water harbour suitable for the container ships then coming into use, a high-speed rail link to London, and a new town for the accommodation of the thousands of workers who would be required.
The Maplin Sands were at that time, and remain, a military testing ground belonging to the Ministry of Defence.
|This Essex location article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|