Thorney Island (West Sussex)

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The Great Deep Great Deep, Thorney Island.JPG
The Great Deep

Thorney Island is an island (effectively a peninsula) that juts into Chichester Harbour in West Sussex. It is separated from the mainland by a narrow channel called the Great Deep.

Island Any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water

An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerries, cays or keys. An island in a river or a lake island may be called an eyot or ait, and a small island off the coast may be called a holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands, such as the Philippines, is referred to as an archipelago.

Peninsula A piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland.

A peninsula is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water. Peninsulas are not always named as such; one can also be a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, fork, or spit. A point is generally considered a tapering piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape. A river which courses through a very tight meander is also sometimes said to form a "peninsula" within the loop of water. In English, the plural versions of peninsula are peninsulas and, less commonly, peninsulae.

Chichester Harbour

Chichester Harbour is a 3,733.5-hectare (9,226-acre) biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) west of Chichester in Hampshire and West Sussex. The SSSI is part of Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation. It is also part of Chichester and Langstone Harbours Ramsar site, Special Protection Area and Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I. Part of it is a Geological Conservation Review site and two areas are Local Nature Reserves.



Thorney Island in 1835 (centre left) before being joined to the mainland with seawalls Chichester 1835 map.jpg
Thorney Island in 1835 (centre left) before being joined to the mainland with seawalls

The village of West Thorney lies on the east coast of the island and has been incorporated into a British Army military base which occupies the southern part of the island, south of Great Deep. A coastal public footpath, part of the Sussex Border Path encircles the island, but public access to the south of the island is limited to the footpath and the church of St Nicholas at West Thorney. Walkers using the footpath may be asked by intercom to provide their contact details (name, address and mobile phone number) at the security gates to access the southern part of the island. Walkers must keep to the footpath marked with the yellow posts. [1] During the winter months, fortnightly shoots are held on Thorney for partridge, pheasant and snipe.

West Thorney village and civil parish in West Sussex, England

West Thorney is a village and civil parish in the Chichester district in West Sussex, England located nine kilometres (5.4 miles) west of Chichester south of the A27 road.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Sussex Border Path

The Sussex Border Path is a long-distance footpath in southern England that connects Thorney Island to Rye. The main path is 222 km (138 mi) long, with an additional 33 mi (53 km) spur known as the Mid Sussex Path which links Weir Wood Reservoir with Mile Oak in the city of Brighton and Hove.

To the south of the island is Pilsey Island, now joined to Thorney Island by a sandbank, which is an RSPB nature reserve. [2]

The 2001 census showed the island to have a resident population of 1,079. [3]


The climate of Thorney Island is generally milder than elsewhere in the UK, but slightly cooler than other areas locally due to being quite rural. The record high temperature is 35.2 °C (95 °F) on 6 August 2003 and the record low is −9.3 °C (15 °F) on 13 January 1987. [4]

The Met Office has an official weather station situated at the Royal Artillery base on Thorney Island.

Climate data for Thorney Island 1981–2010
Average high °C (°F)8.0
Average low °C (°F)2.5
Average precipitation mm (inches)75.5
Average rainy days11.
Mean monthly sunshine hours 68.988.9128.5191.6221.5218.7232.0220.0159.2120.081.261.71,792.2
Source: Met Office [5]

RAF Thorney Island and Baker Barracks

In 1938, the RAF airfield on Thorney Island was built. [6] Subsequently the Royal Navy expressed an interest in using the base. In 1980 West Thorney became host to many hundreds of Vietnamese families, accepted by the United Kingdom for settlement in the United Kingdom. In 1985, a series of experiments referred to as the "Thorney Island Heavy Gas Dispersion Trials" investigating atmospheric dispersion of gases was carried out on the island. [7]

RAF Thorney Island airport in the United Kingdom

RAF Thorney Island is a former Royal Air Force station located 6.6 miles (10.6 km) west of Chichester, West Sussex, England and 7.1 miles (11.4 km) east of Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Vietnam Country in Southeast Asia

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam shares its land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. It shares its maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital city is Hanoi, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.

1984 saw the base renamed Baker Barracks to house a Royal Artillery unit, the 26th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, armed with the FH70. Later, the 26th Field Regiment Royal Artillery was replaced on the island by the 47th Regiment Royal Artillery, armed with the Starstreak HVM. [8] In January 2008, the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery moved to the island on their return from Germany. [9] 47 Regiment subsequently relocated from Thorney Island to Larkhill, Wiltshire under restructuring of the British Army as part of the Army 2020 programme.

Thorney Island is also home to the territorial army base of 63 SAS Signal Squadron (V) (D Troop) who are known presently as 18 UKSF Signal Squadron (V) and who moved to Thorney in 1977. [10]

In 2009, the airfield was used as a test track for a British-built steam car hoping to smash the longest standing land speed record. The British Steam Car Challenge team included test driver Don Wales, nephew of the late Donald Campbell and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell. [11]

Related Research Articles

Royal Artillery artillery arm of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.

Royal Corps of Signals one of the combat support arms of the British Army

The Royal Corps of Signals is one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Signals units are among the first into action, providing the battlefield communications and information systems essential to all operations. Royal Signals units provide the full telecommunications infrastructure for the Army wherever they operate in the world. The Corps has its own engineers, logistics experts and systems operators to run radio and area networks in the field. It is responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment and information systems, providing command support to commanders and their headquarters, and conducting electronic warfare against enemy communications.

100 (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery was part of the Army Reserve and had sub-units throughout the South of England. It had three gun batteries all equipped with the L118 Light Gun. The regiment's original role was British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) emergency reinforcement, emphasised by its transfer into 49 Infantry Brigade under part of 2 Division. Under 'Options for Change', the regiment became a general support unit fitted out with the FH-70 155mm towed howitzer and assigned to 3 Division; in 1999, it was reassigned as a CS Regiment, losing its ability to deploy as a whole unit. Under Army 2020, it was placed in suspended animation.

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The 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery is an artillery unit of the Australian Army. Currently it provides close artillery support to the 3rd Brigade and is based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, Queensland. The regiment was raised in its current form in 1960 and is currently re-equipping with M777A2 lightweight towed howitzers. The regiment deployed during Australia's commitment to the Vietnam War and has subsequently deployed to Singapore and East Timor.

19th Regiment Royal ArtilleryThe Scottish Gunners – is a Scottish regiment of the Royal Artillery in the British Army. It currently supports 12 Mechanised Brigade in the armoured field artillery role. The regiment has Fire Support Teams mounted in Warrior Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicles equipped with MSTAR. The regiment's three gun batteries are equipped with 24 AS-90 self-propelled guns

12th Regiment Royal Artillery

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16th Regiment Royal Artillery

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St Georges Barracks, North Luffenham

St George's Barracks are a military installation near to the village of North Luffenham in Rutland.

Baker Barracks

Baker Barracks is a British Army barracks located on Thorney Island around 6.58 miles (10.59 km) east from Portsmouth, Hampshire.

45th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

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52nd (London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

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53rd (City of London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

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Joint Ground Based Air Defence Headquarters

The Joint Ground Based Air Defence Headquarters or JtGBAD HQ was a joint (non-deployable), force-generating British military formation under the operational command of RAF Air Command, sitting under No.1 Group. It was formed circa 2000 and disbanded in 2019 in favour of 7 Air Defence Group.

T Battery Royal Artillery is an air defence battery of the Royal Artillery that serves with the British Army's 12 Regiment Royal Artillery. It is stationed at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island, West Sussex.

9 (Plassey) Battery Royal Artillery

9 (Plassey) Battery Royal Artillery is an air defence battery of the Royal Artillery that serves with the British Army's 12th Regiment Royal Artillery. It is stationed at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island, West Sussex.

Structure of the British Armed Forces in 1989

At the end of the Cold War in 1989 the British Armed Forces structure was as follows:

7 Air Defence Group

7 Air Defence Group, is a formation of the British Army and part of Force Troops Command. It is responsible for all the army's ground based air defence assets. All of the organisation's subordinate units are drawn from the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Its headquarters are located at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island.


  1. "Sussex seashore, Thorney Island, West Sussex". London: The Guardian. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  2. "About Pilsey Island". RSPB. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  3. "2001 Census: West Sussex – Population by Parish" (PDF). West Sussex County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
  4. "Climate Thorney island". 19 November 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  5. "Regional mapped climate averages". Met Office. November 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  6. "Thorney Airbase History". Daveg – Tripod. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  7. J. McQuaid; B. Roebuck; D. G. Wilde (1985). "Large-Scale Field Trials on Dense Vapour Dispersion". In E. Skupinski; B. Tolley; J. Vilain (eds.). Safety of Thermal Water Reactors: Proceedings of a Seminar on the Results of the European Communities' Indirect Action Research Programme on Safety of Thermal Water Reactors, Held in Brussels, 1–3 October 1984. Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-4972-0_18. ISBN   978-94-010-8701-8.
  8. "47 Regt RA". Ministry of Defence – British Army. Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  9. "12 Regt RA". Ministry of Defence – British Army. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  10. "Special Forces – Roll of Honour – SAS(TA)".
  11. "British-built steam car unveiled". BBC News. 2008-06-25. Retrieved 16 April 2012.

Coordinates: 50°49′02″N0°55′13″W / 50.81722°N 0.92028°W / 50.81722; -0.92028