Alum Bay

Alum Bay

Alum Bay is a sandy bay near the westernmost point of the Isle of Wight, England, within sight of The Needles. Of geological interest and a tourist attraction, the bay is noted for its multi-coloured sand cliffs.


Alum Bay is the location of a classic sequence of Eocene beds of soft sands and clays, separated by an unconformity from the underlying Cretaceous Chalk Formation that forms the adjoining headland of West High Down. Due to geological folding of the Alpine orogeny, the strata in the main section of the Bay are vertical, with younger rocks to the west. The sands are coloured due to oxidised iron compounds formed under different conditions. [West, I.M. and Helsby, R. 2007. [ Alum Bay: Geology of the Isle of Wight] . Internet site: School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton University, UK. Version: 6 February 2007, retrieved 3 August 2008]


On the clifftop there is an amusement park, Needles Park, from which during the summer season a chair lift takes tourists to the beach below, where there is a pontoon for boat trips. Alternatively, a footpath leads to the beach via a broad clay gorge, Alum Bay Chine. The park also features a small number of rides and stalls aimed at children, souvenir shops, a restaurant, and a sweet shop in which guests may also take a tour and view how some of the sweets are made ('The Isle of Wight Sweet Manufactory'). Nearby is an attraction at which guests may view glass-blowing, and purchase wares. During peak season, the amusement park hosts frequent firework shows.

Alum Bay Sands

A traditional product of Alum Bay, and a fixture of Isle of Wight tourist shops, is the creation of ornaments using the coloured sands layered in vials and jars."Handbook to the Isle of Wight", Thomas Brettell, John Mitchell, 1844 [,M1 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008] ] The sands also were used for pictures ["The Other British Isles: A Journey Through the Offshore Islands of Britain", Christopher Somerville, Grafton, 1990, ISBN 0246133171 [ Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008] ] , a popular craft in Victorian times known as marmotinto. Visitors are no longer allowed to dig out their own sands, and signs on the beach warn tourists not to climb the cliffs because of the danger of landslides. The Needles Park, however, has a facility for visitors to fill their own sand souvenirs with sand collected and preserved from natural cliff falls throughout the year. [ [ Sand Shop] , Needles Park website]


Southern Vectis run bus services from Alum Bay. There are two summer-only services, namely The Needles Tour, and the Island Coaster service. The Needles Tour is a sightseeing open-top bus from Alum Bay to the Needles New Battery and Yarmouth, while the Island Coaster is a longer distance route to Ventnor, Shanklin, Sandown and Ryde. Additionally, Southern Vectis route 7 also runs from Alum Bay to Yarmouth, Brighstone and Newport.


On a map c. 1590 the bay is called Whytfylde Chine [ [ The Alum in Alum Bay] , Isle of Wight Industrial Archaeology Society report]

Some of the Alum Bay sands are extremely pure white silica, and were formerly quarried for glass and pottery manufacture.

Guglielmo Marconi moved to Alum Bay in 1897 to experiment with radio. He set up a 40 meter radio antenna outside the Needles Hotel in Alum Bay. Initially establishing communication with ships offshore, he was able by early 1898 to successfully communicate with stations at Madeira House, Bournemouth, and the Haven Hotel, Poole, 20 miles away. ["Marconi My Beloved", Maria Cristina Marconi, Branden Books, 2002, ISBN 0937832391 [,M1 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008] ] ["My Father, Marconi", Degan Marconi, Guernica Editions, 1996, ISBN 1550710443 [,M1 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008] ]


ee also

*Whitecliff Bay

External links

* [ Needles Park official website]
*" [ Grimkie] ", Jacob Abbott, Sheldon, 1860 - novel with description of Alumn Bay ornaments and sand pictures.

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