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Wootton Creek, 1965

Wootton Creek is tidal water forming a part of the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth, and for appropriate purposes lies within the jurisdiction of the Queen’s Harbourmaster.

The Queen’s Harbourmaster

The Dockyard Ports Regulation Act, 1865, empowers Her Majesty in Council to define the limits of a dockyard port (S.3); to make regulations to prohibit the mooring or anchoring of vessels so as to obstruct navigation in the port; to appropriate mooring places for H.M. Ships; to control the keeping and handling of guns, ammunition, fire, light, and combustible substances; to make agreed limits; to require ship keepers to regulate the beaming of vessels; and for other purposes necessary for the proper protection of H.M. ships, dockyards or other property, or for the requirements of .M. naval service (S.5).

There have been other instances of the exercise of the powers of the Queen’s Harbourmaster, notably in the removal and buoying of wrecks and maintenance of navigation marks.

The heaviest traffic in the Creek is caused by the British Rail ferry terminal at Fishbourne.

Power to operate Steamers was granted by the South-western and the Brighton Railway Companies (Steam Vessels) Act, 1879.

Power to construct the terminal at Fishbourne was granted by the Southern Railway Act, 1924 (S.45), and the British Transport Commission Act, 1759, authorised alteration to the slipway (S.9). Subsection 2 of that section defines the limits of the terminal, within which the master of the slipway may exercise powers under and subject to the provisions of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847 (Section 51 – 65 of this Act stipulate the powers of a harbour, dock and pier master). In particular subsection 6 authorises works on the bed of the Creek and confirms certain powers granted in the Act of 1924. In practice British Rail have only dredged and maintained a narrow channel along the line of the marked piles, and this does not appear to have affected the other users of the Creek other than 40 occasions such hazards or nuisances as might be expected to be caused by the frequent passage of the ferries.

The boundary between the municipal boroughs of Ryde and Newport runs from north to south in the centre of the Creek. For appropriate purposes therefore the eastern side of the Creek is subject to the control of the Ryde Council and the western side to that of the Newport Council. The whole area lies within the Administrative County of the Isle of Wight. These local authorities have chiefly been concerned in matters relating to planning control and public health in the Creek, and the problem of houseboats in particular. The County Council expressed fears as to the inadequacy of planning control over houseboats as against development carried out on the bank of the Creek in 1954, and there is an amount of correspondence relating to this matter on the County Council’s files TP 94 and TP 78.

The number of houseboats on the Ryde bank are few, and appears to have remained constant. (There were seven in 1953 and apparently nine in 1963). The number on the Newport side is much greater, and a regular community is established at Creek Gardens. However the Commissioners of Crown Lands, who claim ownership of the foreshore on the Newport side, have granted a regulating lease of this foreshore to the Newport Borough Council, which now grants licences for the mooring of houseboats and controls the foreshore on the western side. The foreshore on the eastern side is in private ownership.

The question of pollution has given rise to considerable concern. The Isle of Wight River Authority have powers under the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act, 1951, and the Clean Rivers (Estuaries and Tidal Waters) Act, 1960, to control discharges from land (but not from “vessels”, and in this connection the discharges from a summer resident houseboat population of 120 persons presents a problem). The recent Newport Corporation main sewerage scheme for Wootton has lessened discharge by taking the sewage to the Fairlee installation whence it is discharged into the River Medina. The Ryde Corporation sewage scheme for Fishbourne and Kite Hill, which will come into operation shortly, will involve the discharge of purified effluent into the Creek after processing. The Creek also lies within the area of the Southern Sea Fisheries District Committee who have in the past expressed some concern over pollution of the Creek.

There are a large number of private persons who have interests in Wootton Creek. The land on both sides is privately owned, although the Commissioners for Crown Lands claim the foreshore (between high and low water mark) on the western side, and have granted the regulating lease to the Newport Corporation. There are, however, private slipways even on this side of the Creek and some owners keep dinghies and small craft hauled up on their land. The adjoining landowners claim the foreshore on the eastern side and the bed of the Creek above the bridge is believed to be owned by the Fleming Estate. There are therefore a number of private moorings above low water mark on both sides. These are primarily used by houseboats; except for those lying to the east of the British Rail ferry terminal which are laid on foreshore owned by Frank Young; these are used by small craft.

The landowners principally concerned are, on the east bank: -

The Misses Dorrien-Smith, who own land and foreshore at the mouth of the Creek at the point marked “Coastguard Cottages”.

Mr Frank Young, who owns the foreshore next adjoining that point and along the frontage of the ferry terminal the R.V.Y.C. headquarters as far as a point some hundred yards above the shingle bank.

Island Craft Ltd of the Ranelagh Works, Fishbourne, whose interest in the foreshore is possibly limited by reason of the fact that they manufacture air conditioning equipment not “craft”.

Captain B. I. Barlow of Ashlake Farm, who is also the proprietor of the Ashlake Sailing School, and R.Y.A. approved school.

Rosanna Sailing School, also R.Y.A. approved (proprietor Mr. Simpson), which is in fact, situated on some four houseboats moored just below the bridge.

D. H. Murray, Esq., who has a small boat building and repair business hard by the bridge.

British Road Services who have depots and wharves on both sides of the Creek by the bridge. These installations appear to be disused or little used at present, as the bulk of their traffic is carried up the River Medina.

On the west bank the only large interest is that of the Little Canada Holiday Camp. The campers indulge in considerable water borne activities during the summer in canoes, dinghies and pedaloes. Also, a number of campers are conveyed from the mainland by private launch.

Please’s Yacht Yard and Garage are also situated just below the bridge on the west side.

The bridge itself, which is a county bridge, has adjustable sluices between the arches, which are used to maintain the water level in the old mill pond above the bridge. These are believed to have been installed by the owner of the adjoining Lakeside Inn, when the original mill sluices disintegrated and are apparently operated by him. It is also believed that he is the tenant of the bed of the “lake”, from the Fleming Estate.

Source: The Queen’s Harbourmaster

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:25

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