Mersea Island is the most easterly inhabited island in the UK, located marginally off the coast of the county of Essex, to the southeast of Colchester. It is situated in the estuary area of the Blackwater and Colne rivers and has an area of around
The name 'Mersea' is derived from the Old English meresig meaning 'island of the pool', with the island hosting a population of approximately 6,500. It is joined to the mainland by a causeway, first constructed in Roman times and crosses the waterway known as The Strood. This carries the Mersea–Colchester road (B1025) which is covered at high spring tides.
The main industries on Mersea are farming, fishing including oyster gathering and raising and servicing the leisure boating industry. There are two main settlements on the island, the small town of West Mersea and the village of East Mersea, plus a small hamlet at Barrow Hill to the north of West Mersea. The island has its own newspapers, the Newsround and the Mersea Island Courier. It also has full Broadband coverage with the majority of properties, excluding those too close to the beach, being able to receive Freeview signals.
The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, who wrote the hymn Onward, Christian Soldiers, was Rector of East Mersea.
Mersea Island though small has been the homeground of a large number of musicians/bands. It is presently the home base of After the Fire, solo Country artist Steve Travis and members of established Essex Folk/Punk band Saltdog (formerly The Salty Dogs). The popular progressive rock band Yes played their very first gig in East Mersea Youth Camp. Recently a new generation of musicians have appeared from the island all showing a variety in style and attitude. Most notably are Back Alley Abortions with their brand of hardcore punk, DJ Pondy who seamlessly integrates Drum and Bass with Heavy metal music, Free Beer After 11 with their avant-garde approach to sound (although none of the FBA-11 members are from the Island itself they hold it in high regard as a place for a number of their social gatherings), and Heavy Metal guitarist/singer David Spicer ex-Slash Dementia, Elimination who works on his solo venture Honorgard from his home on the island. In 1964 a group called The Poachers formed. They still play today to a wide audience and have released their own CD.