A brief history of Gibraltar Point

This part of the east coast is a very dynamic one and, in contrast to many parts of eastern England, the tip of the reserve is still accreting.

The reserve consists essentially of a pair of almost parallel dune systems separated by saltmarsh. The innermost dunes, or West Dunes, which run alongside the access road, were clearly marked on a map of 1779 and are believed to be at least 300 years old; at that time, they would have been the outermost dunes.

The changing face of the coastline has affected the population of the area. The nearby town of Wainfleet was once a busy port in medieval times, but its access to the sea gradually silted up until it became completely isolated. For a while, Gibraltar Point was the closest the larger boats could get to the town, and a small community grew up at "The Haven", with a pub "The Ship Inn", coastguard station, farm and cottages.

By the early part of this century, the sea had retreated further eastwards, with new lines of dunes forming, and the Haven itself no longer had satisfactory access to the sea. The last commercial boats to use The Haven ceased in the 1920's.

After this, the buildings were abandoned and neglected and gradually fell into disrepair. The last coastguards left in 1925. Several ideas for Gibraltar Point were considered after this, including a speedway track and a new town, but fortunately neither saw the light of day.

In 1937, Lindsey County Council bought most of the point, to safeguard it against further development. In 1949, the Lincolnshire Trust for Nature Conservation proposed that the site should be a nature reserve, and in 1952 it was declared as a Local Nature Reserve.

The reserve is managed by the Trust under lease. It was extended later by bringing in an area of dunes owned by Skegness UDC (now East Lindsey District Council), and the Trust purchased land around Sykes farm in 1978. To complicate the tenure slightly further, the foreshore is owned by the Crown Estate Commissioners, who lease it to the District Council.

In 1984, the site was declared a National Nature Reserve.

Gibraltar Point Heritage Trail

This self-guided trail reveals some of the Victorian and wartime secrets of Gibraltar Point.

Click on the link below the preview to download and print a copy.


FilenameFile size
Gibraltar Point Heritage Trail1.12 MB