Contributions requested – photographs, stories and family histories to document time spent at this magical place. The relationships that have been formed, the generations who have been brought up on the spit as well as the history of the businesses involved too….. ferries, café’s and trains!
Please contact us hots@MSBHA.org.uk (‘hots’ stands for History of the Sandbank).
The first time I came to the beach hut in 1950 I was carried in a basket by my parents as my grandmother owned one of the first huts. I spent the majority of my holidays there until early teens when my father bought his first boat. He still kept it moored at Christchurch.
When my father sadly passed away in 1980, we thought the purchase of a beach hut with some of the ‘boat’ sale was a fitting legacy for my father who loved Mudeford Sandspit.”
We bought hut 207 in 1971 and at the time there was a short stretch of beach in front. However, in the mid 70’s the construction of the promenade and sea wall was started and during this time bulldozers started taking sand from in front of our hut. Immediately my wife and some other ladies in the area stood in front of the bulldozers preventing any further sand from being moved.
The damage had to some extent already been done and during the next storm the sea came under our huts washing away the foundations.
Several of us then got together and hired a crane to help put things right as a number huts had been moved with some leaning against each other. We created a new base about 20 ft back and moved our hut to where it is today. Some other huts were re positioned at the same time. The pictures are of hut 207 and we were proud that not one pane of glass was broken during the operation.
We still have a hut, although not the same number, and have spent 50 years on the sandbank.
Babs & Bryan Vivian
A few pics of our hut ‘interlude’, number 100, including my fathers receipt for the purchase back in June 1966.
Hope this is of interest
Our family have are now into the 5th generation of being part of the Mudeford community. My parents Brian and George have owned 163 since 1976, originally shared with John and Nina Sherry who later bought their own hut.
My grandparents Frank and Eileen Sherry had a hut in the 30s but had to take it away during the war. It became their garden shed in Fairmile Rd. Frank was actually camped on the sandbank with 1st Christchurch Town cubs when WW1 broke out.
My sisters Emma and Sarah, sons and nephews, Steven, Matt, Tom, Luke, George and Will have all spent important parts of their lives there. The next generation of the Sherry clan Charlie and Oliver, are just starting their beach experience.
We have forged many close Mudeford friendships including the Peeks, Stevenson, Fords, Ingram, Heaths, Dennetts and their wider families and others too many to mention.
We bought the hut in 1988 but our first visits would have been in the 70s to see lucky people who already owned one. We began renting for a few years but eventually we were lucky enough to buy one It cost us £12000 which was a lot of money and several friends were shocked at how much we’d spent on a shed!!
All of our summer holidays were spent on the beach. The children often brought friends with them so the hut would be overflowing. Tim would commute to Southampton for work cycling from the car park at hengistbury head. One of the great delights was answering the phone in the box by the cafe and running up and down the beach to take a message. Eventually the excitement palled and anyway people started bringing their own phones!!
Crabbing off the jetty was also very popular. One day we heard a little boy say “look mummy. That’s the dog who got the crab line stuck in her tongue”. That was in the day when irresponsible owners, like us, let their dogs roam the beach. We had no idea it had happened. On another occasion our second dog took several return trips on the ferry before the driver realised she was on her own and called us to get her back. In my defence she was with my son at the time.
There was no fridge in the huts we rented. We’d bring a cool box and put the ice packs in the shop freezer. They were always happy to help, most of our shopping was done in the beach shop. It was always well stocked.
The beach has meant so much to us over the years and now our grandson is enjoying it. It was our daughters significant birthday this year. Her friends made her a beach hut cake. Says it all really! !
May 1987. We believe this is the original… steel frame and asbestos walls!!
Maureen, mother of my brother Nigel and I, is in the photo. (She was a code breaker at Bletchley Park during WW2) said she’d bought it for our grandchildren, so it’s being enjoyed by her great grandchildren now. A wise woman our mum!!
Our rebuild 1988…
Eldest son’s rebuild completed. March 2013
Kewley family happy place 2018
My parents had a hut at Mudeford from 1950’s on-wards and is still in the family ( their Grandchildren).
My personal recollections? Great freedom in a quiet, healthy location; the crescent island in the harbour, a dinghy we took there on the top of the car.
My most persistent memory is rowing out of the harbour with the falling tide – out of ‘the run’ I pulled off along the sandbank . The sea was choppy and got worse; onshore breeze and a falling tide. Quite a way out I realized the small ‘pram’ dingy was taking a beating; waves of increasing size on the starboard stern quarter. A ‘big one’ caught the stern and rolled the dinghy over. Heart in mouth, I thought I was done for, not being a brilliant swimmer, and only about eleven years old. Scrabbling in the mad choppy waves my feet touched bottom. I stood up – the water was only 18″ deep.
Trying to look as if this was my usual way of coming ashore, having collected the oars,I walked through the chop towing the dinghy, then dragged it back up the run. Another lesson learned.
In those days the ferry was rowed back and forth by a couple of pipe-smoking, taciturn fishermen. I used to help pull in the nets they’d rowed out across the run to the harbour-side then back again, netting big salmon. These would appear on the cafe menu later in the day – the best fresh-caught fish ever.
Much later I crewed on transatlantic sailing deliveries. But even landing at St Johns in Antigua, or back In Palma, through storms and calms, the fondest memories are of Mudeford and Hengistbury.
We believe that our first hut, damaged and replaced in 1964 and still in use today, was built around 1951 or 52 by my grandfather and my then 12- or 13-year-old father while they camped in tent on the beach being fed tea and sandwiches by the Baylis’s in Hut 421 thus forming a lifelong friendship between the children of the two families which continues to this day!
The story goes that it was built and then flat packed on to a trailer by a joinery firm in Oxford, where they were then living, and then towed down to Mudeford behind my grandfather’s very old and ailing 1920’s Rolls Royce.
The car apparently struggled so much that Dad and Grandmother had to get out and push it up some of the hills in-between!
It was Mudeford Sandbank that made my late Husband and I move to the area. We bought our hut, now in the care of our Grandson, for £300.
Brenda Clarke ( late of 275)
Hut 178 Happy Jeans Hut
Our family hut was purchased by my mum and dad, Jean and Peter purvis, in 1965. My mum had been gifted £400 along with my Aunt to make a male inheritance fair by my Grandfather. My Aunt bought a car and my mum, after careful consideration of the cost of family holidays, added savings of £100 and made her dream come true by purchasing Hut 178.
We spent every weekend and school holiday from April to October at the hut . My dad would stay at home for work and visit at the weekends. We would look out for him walking along the harbour toward the creek and rush to meet him hoping he had our treat of Coca Cola and dry roasted peanuts ! For mum it was a litre of Liebfraumilch which set them up for the weekend! Dad was a reluctant hutter, sand in the bed and cold sea water was not for him but he encouraged us to sail and we progressed through the dinghy range, with my brother Rob taking to water sports with a passion he and his family still have and Jane representing her college sailing team at Lake Windermere.
We formed many friendships over the years , I had 2 in particular and I met them during the winter months with sleepovers at each other’s houses . Sue Garrety from Hut 174 who lived in High Wycombe and Rebeca Crab from hut 182 from Salisbury, sadly I’ve lost touch with them as they sold their huts many years ago. My brother had a gang of sailing and fishing friends including Andrew Musgrove and Rob Burns. They would disappear for hours and return when hungry to demolish bowls of cornflakes, often covered in creek mud! Jane sailed with Simon Carter, his grandfather had Hut 180 next door and used the hut regularly despite having lost a leg. The flag stone path way he used will still be there now many inches below sand and grass.
Pete and Tiley Diaper owned hut 176 as far back as I can remember. My brother crewed as a young boy for Pete in his mirror dinghy “Squaw” progressing to “Geronimo” a 505, he learnt so much from him and the gentle noise of the rigging against mast would lull us to sleep, as back then they were pulled up on the grass which is now SSSI. Tiley would give us pocket money for doing fictitious jobs, she loved having a family next door.
Our childhood was pre showers on the beach so sometimes a visit to Christchurch swimming pool was called for but I remember washing my hair under the cold water tap very often! We returned to school after the summer with feet as hard as nails, a tan that could have come from the Caribbean and experiences that Enid Blyton would have written about!
We have all enjoyed using the hut for our family holidays, sometimes renting hut 170, so for 1 week we could all be together, which my mum loved.
We are so lucky as a family to have owned our hut for many years. We have grown up with a wonderful legacy to pass on to our children and hope that Mudeford sandbank remains the magical place that it is for generation after generation to enjoy.
Jane Sarah and Rob Hut 178
Ps. We nicknamed everyone, Mike the Bass, Slippery Pete, the Poshes, the Potty Ladies, little Sue and Big Sue and our mum Happy Jean. I need to say Big Sue was not big and Jean Brown not sad! So many happy memories I feel I’ve only scratched the surface.
Steve waters hut 270
I thought someone might be interested to know that the first three huts were built there around 1900. One was owned or rented by my great uncle and his family ( Edward Whittingham ) another by the Agate family and the third by another local family whose name I have forgotten; the Agates and the Whittinghams lived in Stanpit – Edward was then the Town Clerk of Christchurch.
Local history may be more accurate but these are my recollections handed down through the family – certainly I spent many happy hours at Mudeford growing up – ( I am now almost 90.)
The hard working Stride family from Stanpit was much admired by my family – they ferried visitors across “The Run ” and fished for salmon with nets strung out into the stream which were then pulled gently ashore by hand.
Our family all sailed and, in WW2 my cousin served in the RNVR commanding a flotilla of MTB’s at one stage.
I hope this may be of interest to someone locally.
Bowyer Family – Mudeford Sandbank
The Bowyer family discovered Mudeford Sandbank in mid 1930’s when Ralph Bowyer acquired his first hut on the spit. A month before the war broke out in 1939, he was advised to empty the hut as it would be flattened in preparation for metal fortifications.
After the war ended in 1945, Ralph and his friend Tom Drew bought an old army hut on the spit and split it in half, took it away and converted it into two huts on the site where huts 229 and 227 are today. The task took many months as supplies were so short. Hut 229 had original army surplus metal bunks, the kitchen was made from tea chests, shelves were made from the sides of beds and other reclaimed items from the war years to enable the build. There was no fridge and milk was kept in a bucket of cold sea water. Before the shop was built there was a van which came daily bringing fresh supplies, which sounded its horn to let everyone know it had arrived. There was also a man selling fresh fruit and vegetables on his bike.
Ralph and Kay Bowyer and their two children Bill and Roger spent many happy years there and the Bowyer family are still present today with Bill’s children Lisa and Sarah and now their own children all using and loving the hut.
The original hut lasted 50 years until 1996, so although it was made of used and found items it lasted the test of time and storms. Before the large concrete seaside defences were built the sea regularly came right up to and under the huts on the seaside.
Childhood memories from Lisa and Sarah Bowyer in the 1960/1970’s are:
Before the ferry, we have memories of being rowed across from the Quay to the Black House, two fishermen sharing the rowing in all weather with minimal luggage.
To light our fridge in the hut we had to soak the wick in methylated spirits and then light it.
There was a fully stocked supermarket style shop on the side of the cafe with trollies in use, this was used daily by our mum who couldn’t possibly bring food over that we do today.
The red telephone box was behind our hut and the queue each night after 6pm was always huge. We also as children used to be sent to find people on the beach to receive incoming phone calls which was a regular occurrence.
Getting lights in the toilet blocks was indeed very exciting, it was always rather scary going to the toilet in the pitch black. Then came the showers which were amazing even though there was restricted use and they were locked from 10am.
There was a Royal Mail postbox outside the café and post was regularly displayed for collection by Bill the superintendent in the window of his office hut.
We spent our 6 weeks school holiday at Mudeford and our days were filled with crabbing at Muddy Creek, rowing, swimming off the jetty……..how lucky were we!
I drove the old Noddy Train for years (70’s).
I cycled the route twice daily. (80’s and 90’s)
My valediction was 2005, before more recent changes and initiatives.
But, IMHO the “first corner” was the most dangerous place. By the tap then.
The woods were actually quite permissive.
People might progress well on the main drag and be confident before a curve and surface change.
Then the area is on a turn. Poor visibility.
There are sandy areas maybe spilling onto the road by the 1st water tap.
Any cyclist engaging with the edge of the road sand will shudder to a stop, handlebars fighting the cyclist, depending on luck more than judgement.
That can happen at any speed, even really slow. The bike leans over, therider tries to balance. Only a matter of time even sub 10mph.
I remember people are unlikely to have looked ahead for similar coming the other way.
The train drivers sometime forgot! Trains cannot be beaten by cyclists on this First Tap curve. Some tried. Nobody died.
For me it was the worst of all potentialities. 10mph was the saving grace
Near these three photo locations a kid on a bike went for it and hit a Nature Trail Post.
The rear passengers told ME off.
To not hit a stationery object is a rule of any road?