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Canvey Island U3A
On the south coast of Essex lies Canvey Island, approximately five miles long by three miles wide. It was originally part of a small group of islands and is one of the largest islands along the Thames Estuary. The first settlers on this marshland arrived during the Roman Era and were followed by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th Century and then the Dutch. Evidence of the latter can be seen today, at the hexagonal building which houses a museum to the Dutch settlers, pictured below. In 1621 a Dutch engineer was invited to build a sea wall to protect the island from the sea and this was completed in 1623. The sea wall which has since been raised, due to rising sea levels, surrounds three quarters of its perimeter and is 15 miles (24km) long. For those that feel fit, it is possible to walk round almost the whole of the island, taking in views of Hadleigh Downs and the famous ruin of Hadleigh Castle, a Marina, an RSPB Nature Reserve and the Thames Estuary. From a small community of humble farmers the inhabitants of the island have grown to a vibrant community of over 37,000.