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Facts

THE SCILLY ISLES

The Scilly Isles are not a county or borough but we wanted to include them.


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FUN FACTS

The Scilly Isles is the 50th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
The Scilly Isles has the smallest population in England.
The Scilly Isles is in 47th place for density of population.

NOTE: The Scilly Isles are a group of six inhabited islands and just over 50 uninhabited islands, some 28 miles south west of the tip of Cornwall. The Scilly Isles form part of Cornwall but since 1890 have had their own local authority. The inhabited islands are St Mary's, Tresco, St Martin's, St Agnes, Gugh and Bryher. Only St Mary's has a population greater than 200, 1,666 people living there as at the 2011 census.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate essentially owned by the Duke of Cornwall. The Duke of Cornwall is, by tradition, the eldest son of the monarch. Therefore, Prince Charles is, until he becomes King, the Duke of Cornwall.

    The Duchy of Cornwall owns most of the land which makes up the Scilly Isles and nearly one third of the residential buildings on the islands. I understand that Prince Charles owns a six bedroomed house called Dolphin House on the isle of Tresco. The Duchy of Cornwall owns the isle of Tresco. Prince Charles owns the island on which he owns a house.

    I further understand that, when the Prince and his family or friends are not using the house it is available for private rent. If my plans to travel England in 2022 come to fruition then I shall have a word about a possible four night stay.

    Tourism is the most important industry on the islands with almost 100,000 visitors in the summer during normal times. Flower farming is also an important part of the local economy, helped by the mild climate. The scented Narcissi are a particular favourite. With so many uninhabited, perhaps hardly ever visited by humans, islands, wildlife and nature thrive. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, which manages around 60 per cent of the area of the Isles, including the uninhabited islands, plays an important role in protecting wildlife and their habitats. The Trust pays a rent to the Duchy of one daffodil per year!

    Now about that four night stay. I've just had a quick look around my garden and I can do a tulip and an unnamed purple thing. Is that suitable your Royal Highness?



  3. The Scilly Isles Eat
  4. Obviously, being a group of islands, sea food is not only popular on the Scilly isles it is also extremely fresh. However, on my only visit (3 hours) I am certain I bought some fudge. I know from my many months spent there that you can get fudge nearly everywhere in Cornwall so this would seem likely but I have no proof. I did then do a quick google and discovered there are now at least two places on the Scilly Isles who make and sell fudge so that is what I have decided the Scilly Isles eat.

    It seems that fudge was invented in America as recently as 1886. However when you use a recipe that includes clotted cream, for which the west country of England is famous, then you can see why it has become so popular in this area. There are no doubt many recipes for making fudge and some will have a secret ingredient that gives that fudge a unique taste but the general principle seems to be to boil unrefined caster sugar, golden syrup and clotted cream, adding any colouring or flavouring, like vanilla, that you want and when it has reached a certain temperature, remove it from the heat and beat the mixture, tradition says by hand, until it becomes thick. This can take ten minutes it says. Then put it into some kind of tin and leave it for 30 minutes. Mark into squares, or any shape you want I guess, and leave until set. Some people then cut it into squares, or the shape they have marked, and store it in an airtight container. This seems to me like a waste of an airtight container so I would save on that by eating all the fudge at once.

  5. Scilly Isles VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in the Scilly Isles in the last 100 years:-
    Needless to say with a total population of just over 2,000 people, the smallest on our journey, it has not been possible to find, despite endless research, seven VIPs for this section. I did find two who might fit:‐
    Sam Llewellyn (Author) and the late Stella Turk (Zoologist, Naturalist, and Conservationist).

    Normally mothers are taken to Cornwall to give birth or to the main island of St. Mary's so I guess Thea Windrige Hicks who was born on St Agnes (population 73) in 2013 is pretty special as she was the first birth there since 1937. Meanwhile, Marcus Daniel McLachlan missed out on being born on St Martin's (population 142) as his mother was airlifted to Cornwall for his birth. He wasn't born in Cornwall either as he arrived in mid-air, in a helicopter, somewhere over Cornwall. Bit VIPish too.

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Legend has it that Tristan, one of the knights of King Arthur's famous round table, was also the king of a long strand of land which went from the tip of Cornwall. Except he never made it to be king. The land was called Lyonesse and when Tristan's father, Meliodas, died, Tristan was away in Cornwall. On one terrible night, said to be 11 November 1099 (or maybe 1089) Lyonesse vanished beneath the waves. The only bit that was left is now the islands that make up the Scilly Isles.

    It is said that Lyonesse had 140 churches and a good population. Its most significant building was a castle-like cathedral built on tall rocks. The legend says that the people of Lyonesse committed a terrible crime and God took revenge against them. The legend doesn't say what the crime was. The poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson describes Lyonesse as the site of the final battle between Arthur and Mordred. It is quite possible that at some stage Cornwall was connected by land to the Scilly Isles and perhaps a tsunami swept over that land. There are treacherous rocks just beneath the surface around that coast, one stretch known as the Seven Stones Reef which was home to the Seven Stones lightship since 1841. Since 1987 the lightship has been automated and unmanned.

    Sometimes, when there is a very low tide, people in Penzance in Cornwall can see the remains of a sunken forest where petrified, in this instance meaning changed to stone, tree stumps can be seen. Weird.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. The story of the lost land of Lyonesse may well be a legend but the bit about there being rocks just under the surface of the sea between Cornwall and the Scilly Isles is not. Anyone who knew nothing of this fact soon did on the morning of 18 March 1967.

    A supertanker carrying 119,238 tons of crude oil was on its way from Kuwait to an oil refinery at Milford Haven in Wales. At about 8.50am the tanker ran aground on the Seven Stones reef in broad daylight. The tanker was called the Torrey Canyon, 974.4 feet long (297 metres) and 125.4 feet wide (38.2 metres). What happened over the next days was major news and seen on TV around the world.

    It proved impossible to refloat the tanker and then she began to break up. Within hours some of the oil began to leak from the tanks on the ship. On 19 March there was an oil slick 20 miles (about 32 kms) long and by 25 March oil had begun to arrive on both Cornish and French beaches. Beaches were covered in the thick oil and sludge.

    But before that there was an even greater disaster. More than 15,000 sea birds were killed as they became trapped in the floating oil. However this was just a fraction of the number of birds and marine mammals who would die over the following years.

    Many efforts to improve the situation just made matters worse. First there was an attempt to burn off the oil but this didn't work. Then the British Government gave orders for the Torrey Canyon to be destroyed by aerial bombardment in the hope that all the oil still remaining on board would be burnt off. On 28 March 1967, 42 1,000-lb bombs were dropped on the ship. This was followed by aircraft dropping cans of aviation fuel to make the oil blaze but exceptionally high tides put the fire out. Further bombing took place and eventually, the next day, the Torrey Canyon sank. The British efforts didn't look that good given that as many as 25% of their bombs missed the enormous stationary target.

    Another failure was the use of chemical based cleaning agents aimed at reducing the amount of oil on the shore. More than two million gallons of a chemical called BP 1002 was sprayed on to the affected waters. Hoses were squirted over beaches, volunteers used watering cans, fishermen pumped the chemical into the sea from their boats. The Army even punctured holes into barrels of it and rolled them off cliffs. The plan was for the chemical to break down the oil and allow it to disperse and be removed by natural bacteria. But instead it killed any kind of marine life it came into contact with, from seaweed to limpets to fish.

    The disaster saw several firsts. No oil spill of that size had ever occurred until that time. The Torrey Canyon was the largest vessel ever to be wrecked. It was, and still is, the UK's worst environmental accident ever and the first major tanker disaster to attract such an enormous media coverage, drawing universal attention to the dangers of dispersants, oil tankers and the ineffectiveness of governments to control them. About 50 miles (80 km) of French and 120 miles (190 km) of Cornish coast were contaminated.

    The British and French governments made claims against the owners of the vessel; the subsequent settlement was the largest ever in marine history for an oil claim. I watched all this on TV and two years later went on holiday to Cornwall which had still not totally recovered. Not only did everyone now know about the Seven Seas reef, they knew of the massive danger of these large super tankers. A danger that still exists today.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I have visited the Scilly Isles just once. It was a long time ago, a very long time ago. No, it wasn't still joined to Cornwall, don't be silly.

    I had a choice. I could go by helicopter or on a boat. I don't like heights. I also believe that the laws of physics dictate that any machine with rotating blades on its roof should not actually ascend upwards but should basically screw itself into the ground.

    I went by boat. It took about 3 hours and, luckily, about the same time coming back. You may laugh at that statement but I once flew from Melbourne in Eastern Australia to Perth in Western Australia. The flight was 6 hours, Australia is a big country, but I was told it would only take 5 hours to come back because of the prevailing winds. I never found out as I so loved Western Australia I never flew back, spending the rest of my time there and then flying back to Europe.

    It was lovely weather for my ferry trip to the Scilly Isles, a calm sea, a little breeze and warm sunshine. It was summer. Sometimes the Scilly Isles can catch the full force of a gale coming across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, journey times mean you only have about 4 hours on the island of St Mary's which is where the ferry landed. Actually I landed, the ferry stayed in the harbour.

    I remember a very blue sea, lots of yachts in the harbour, houses and cottages tumbling down the hills around the harbour (not literally, I'm being poetic here) and loads of greenery and flowers. We walked around, had lunch, my memory says fish and chips (my stomach says let's go back) and it was all very leisurely. I would love to go back one day and visit a few more islands, still in a nice, leisurely way.

    As my mother is no longer alive I will not have to be on the lookout for British Prime Minsters. Harold Wilson, one of whose sons I was at school with, holidayed on the islands. Mother said if she saw him she would give him a piece of her mind. She wasn't a fan. He is actually buried on the islands. Mother's ashes were thrown into the sea off the Essex coast; maybe she's made it round there.



  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The storm petrel is a little bit bigger than a sparrow. People think it may be called a "storm" petrel because sailors associated seeing the birds with bad weather. The storm petrel is largely found on islands on the west coast of England. It only comes to shore to breed and then at night. They are present at the breeding sites from May to September. You may see some offshore in October when they fly south to waters off South Africa.

    They often feed in flocks and will follow ships, especially fishing trawlers. This is probably as they eat fish, plankton and crustaceans. When they feed they hold their wings up in a "V" pattern.

    Storm petrels appear all black but with a white patch on their backs. They have brown legs and a black, medium length, hooked beak. There are 25,700 breeding pairs in the UK.

    Storm petrels are between 14 and 18 cms in length, have a wingspan of between 36 and 39 cms and weigh between 23 and 30 grams.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip to The Scilly Isles check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020