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Sandbanks The Best Beach In England


Sandbanks A Millionaires Paradise On The South Coast Of England With Miles Of Golden Sand

Sandbanks is a sandy peninsula located several miles west of Bournemouth in the county of Dorset on the South Coast of England and in recent years it's become home to the rich and famous who have built lavish mansions there.

The peninsular forms the southern part of the entrance to Poole Harbour, which is the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney in Australia.

On this page you will find historic hotels and other places to stay in Sandbanks, as well as memories of growing up in Poole and Sandbanks, and the history of Sandbanks complete with some personal photographs. If you are looking for Property For Sale at Sandbanks then you can find that here too.

What makes this peninsula that is comprised of sand dunes really special is that Sandbanks Beach is not made of any ordinary sand. Sandbanks Beach is made up of the finest golden sand, and with it being located in the English Channel where the warm waters of the Gulf Stream take away the chill of the sea, it's a wonderful place for both sunbathing and swimming.

The beach at Sandbanks is consistently awarded a Blue Flag every year. The Blue Flag Award is an international program that lets visitors know that the beach or marina is one of the best in the world. The beaches at Poole and Bournemouth all have this award.

Sandbanks is only a mile long, and at it's narrowest just wide enough for a 2 lane road, with the harbour on one side, and a row of luxury houses on the other. These houses back onto the beach, making it the British equivalent of Malibu in California, and some of the people who have built mansions there in recent years reflect that impression of an exclusive location.

This beautiful spot has in the last 20 years become home to more and more of Britain's millionaires. As of 2008, Sandbanks is the fourth most expensive place in the world to buy property, based on land. As a result of the influx of the wealthy, gone are some of the older art-deco homes that were built from the 1930s to the 1960s, and in their place are now multi-million pound mansions, owned by major Sports or Television personalities.

Sandbanks forms the northern entrance to Poole Harbour, and is connected to the south side at Studland by the Sandbanks Ferry, which is pulled across the entrance to the harbour on chains, since at full flow the current through the narrow harbour entrance is very fast.

As well as the millionaire mansions at Sandbanks, there are also many properties that can be rented, and not all are mega-expensive. There are also some excellent Hotels at Sandbanks which are not overly priced, and if you stay here you just never know who you might bump into.

In recent years Sandbanks has become the location for some international beach events, the biggest being the British Beach Polo Championships which are held at Sandbanks every July.

All images unless otherwise stated are the property of Tony Payne and may only be used with the owner's permission.

What Is My Interest In Sandbanks? - Why am I interested in a place that is only affordable to the rich and famous.

Sandbanks Poole Dorset

Sandbanks Poole Dorset

At the northern end of Sandbanks is a small village called Lilliput. I was born there, and spent my first 18 years there before moving to university, and then to live in London.

My grandmother had in the 1950s and early 1960s (until her death) various properties in Sandbanks, and another side of the family also owned 2 houses on the main narrow part of Sandbanks. These houses have sadly now almost all been replaced by more modern properties. I have some family photos from the 1950s and 1960s of Sandbanks, which you will find in later modules.

This is an old postcard from about 1950, which I annotated to show where my Grandmother used to live. Sandbanks Court and Utopia were still there at my last visit, but further along the road the large white building that comprised the two apartments known as Harbourne and Seabourne was demolished in 1997 to build luxury apartments.

In the far distance you can make out The Purbeck Hills, and to the left of them Old Harry Rocks.

1950s Beach Attire At Sandbanks


This photograph was taken in 1950 and shows just how differently people dressed back then when they went to the beach.

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Sandbanks Before It Was Built Up


In this photograph from May 1950 you can clearly see how much of the sand dunes still remained at Sandbanks, whereas now all you see is large houses.

Much of the south coast of England has nice beaches, however a lot of the beaches to the east of the city of Southampton, which is in the middle of the south coast, are shingle - stony and not so nice for sunbathing.

Southampton is a port, and the coast around there is also muddy or marshy, also not so good for bathing.

When you get west of Poole and into the Purbeck Hills, the scenery becomes more rugged, with lots of limestone cliffs, which are rich in fossils, but few good beaches.

The area from Hengistbury Head in the east, which is close to Christchurch, all the way west past Boscombe and Bournemouth, to Canford Cliffs and Sandbanks, and across the harbour entrance to Studland and around to Swanage, is just perfect golden sand. The beaches are fairly narrow, the water is warm for bathing, warmed by the Gulf Stream that has carried warm water from Florida and the Caribbean, and the area has more sunshine than almost anywhere in England.

Sandbanks Is In Beautiful Dorset - Dorset is a county with many different assets

Corfe Castle In Dorset A National Trust Property - Click on the link to learn more

Corfe Castle In Dorset A National Trust Property - Click on the link to learn more

Dorset is one of the most beautiful counties in England, and it has many different features that make it a great place to visit.

In the southeast there are the seaside areas of Bournemouth and Sandbanks, as well as the historic port of Poole. The harbour at Poole is the second largest natural harbour in the world, after Sydney in Australia.

Further west the Purbeck Hills have impressive limestone and shale cliffs, and nestled away from the coast is the picturesque village of Corfe Castle, which can be reached from Sandbanks via the Sandbanks Ferry and a short drive of less than 10 miles across The Purbeck Hills.

Corfe Castle and Brownsea Island were just two of the places in this part of Dorset that inspired author Enid Blyton to write many of her more than 800 books.

Beyond that the area known as the Jurassic Coast, which includes the towns of Weymouth, Portland and Lyme Regis. It's here that dinosaur bones were first discovered in Victorian times, and where the movie The French Lieutenant's Woman was flimed.

Northern Dorset is more hilly, and home to the old market towns of Shaftesbury and Sherborne, as well as numerous other ancient villages, with many old buildings made of local stone.

Dorset indeed does have a lot to offer to the tourist.

Shoreacres Flats And Beach Huts - These are typical of the buildings that were erected at Sandbanks in the 1960's

Shoreacres at Sandbanks, Banks Road

Shoreacres at Sandbanks, Banks Road

My Grandmother purchased one of these flats before the construction began, but sadly was taken ill and never lived to move into it. A flat here is currently up for sale for £900,000 (US$1.4million). If only we knew how much property would increase in value over the years.

The Closest Beach Huts To The Haven - These are where I spent my summers growing up at Sandbanks.

The beach huts at Midway Path, Sandbanks

The beach huts at Midway Path, Sandbanks

The beach huts below the flats at Shoreacres were when they were built in the 1960s the closest to The Haven Hotel, and they still are today.

Our beach hut was #1 and the leftmost one in the picture. So I can claim to have grown up spending many happy summer days on the beach at Sandbanks. I didn't realise how lucky I was back then. Now, just to rent one of these beach huts, would cost almost as much as I earn.

Unlike many beach huts in the UK which are made of wood, these were concrete and brick built, and had running water as well as electricity. It was wonderful to go to the beach, to not have to carry everything that we needed, to be able to cook, and also to have a fridge as well.

There used to be a solid two foot thick wall in front of the beach huts, then a second level below with railings before you got to the beach. That has all gone now as you can see, and with it a lot of the privacy that we enjoyed as well.

Sandbanks And Marconi

Marconi used The Haven Hotel for radio experiments in the 1890's

The historic Haven Hotel stands impressively at the end of Sandbanks, and was built in 1897, on the site of the North Haven Inn that was built as far back as 1838.

Some of Guglielmo Marconi's early experiments with wireless transmission were performed at The Haven Hotel in 1899, and there are still photographs of these experiments still hang in the hotel.

Several years later, on 12th December 1901, Marconi performed the first trans-atlantic radio transmission, from St. Johns in Newfoundland to Poldhu in Cornwall.

If you are visiting Poole and Sandbanks, why not stay at the historic Haven Hotel Sandbanks and make your trip truly memorable.

The Past In Pictures - Peters Photography has a great collection of old photographs of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

Old photographs of Sandbanks and the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas

Old photographs of Sandbanks and the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas

Would You Like To Live At Sandbanks - With Poole Harbour on one side, the English Channel on the other, and surrounded by fabulous mansions, how does that sound

Please Leave A Comment

Tony Payne (author) from Southampton, UK on September 20, 2014:

Wow what a small world Victoria. My Grandmother lived in Utopia too in the 1950s, not sure which flat though. I only remember her living in both Harbourne and Seabourne (the large white square building that was further up to the Pavilion). My family (the Hursts) also owned one of the older houses close to Utopia and they had a newer one built next door (in the 1960s). One was Looe Cottage, I can't recall the name of the other one. Last time I drove along Sandbanks I couldn't see them, so I assume they have now also gone. Like you, Sandbanks is not the same place that I remember growing up.

Victoria on September 20, 2014:

I spent a lot of my childhood at Sandbanks as my Grandmother lived in No. 6 Utopia, Sandbanks up until her death in 1978. My family also owned a flat in the next door block, 'Sandbanks Court'. In fact it was my Grandfather and his mate Eddie who built the flats. Sadly after my Grandmother's death the family stopped going to Sandbanks but we were there every school holidays and my parents were members of the Poole Harbour Yacht Club too. Those were probably the happiest days of my life. The place is nothing like it used to be sadly and it upsets me to go back there now as the old ghosts are no longer there.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on May 14, 2014:

I've never been to England, but I sure would love to see this place someday.

Tony Payne (author) from Southampton, UK on November 21, 2013:

@Tamara14: Thanks Tamara. I have a lot of love for Sandbanks. Haven't been back for 4 years, but my cousin goes back on a pilgrimage every summer. Might have to pick a nice day this winter to go back, it's wonderful on a bright crisp winter day.

Tamara14 on November 21, 2013:

Excellent lens Tony. I always get nostalgic when the development practically erases the old shape of the place. I guess the modern way has its advantages but I really love the way Sandanks used to look (and probably feel) like. As for living next to ocean - anytime :)

Tony Payne (author) from Southampton, UK on October 16, 2013:

@rob-hemphill: It's definitely a lot nicer to be able to just wear shorts on the beach and to not have to sit there dressed up like a penguin isn't it. How times have changed. Nice to still have the photos, just a shame the family still don't have property at Sandbanks.

Rob Hemphill from Ireland on October 11, 2013:

Such an interesting read. It's an area I'm not too familiar with but knew a little about nearby Portsmouth. My father has old photos like that from his childhood days in Dorset, from the all-in-one swim suit to the suit and tie on the beach. What an era it was.

Tony Payne (author) from Southampton, UK on June 06, 2013:

@writerkath: I hope you can come back to England soon. Actually there are lots of excellent beaches throughout the UK, plus a lot of stony ones as well, but some really pretty places - when the weather is nice.

writerkath on June 05, 2013:

I loved the photos of the people in their suits and fine clothing on the beach! I have to say, Tony, that I never really considered beaches in England! It's so well known for so many other things, that it really didn't even cross my mind until just now! John and I have only been to England once, and absolutely fell in love with the country. As soon as we can afford it, we want to return for a longer stay. :)

Tony Payne (author) from Southampton, UK on May 30, 2013:

@LouiseKirkpatrick: So pleased Sandbanks holds special memories for you. I have more family pictures of my Grandmother's house there, with the family sitting round. Also one of a rather chubby boy (!) eating a rapidly melting choc-ice.

I would love to add some more pictures to the lens, when I get around to updating it. Will let you know, and it would be great to add something from you there.

Tony Payne (author) from Southampton, UK on May 16, 2013:

@FanfrelucheHubs: It's fun to collect sea glass. The sand is wonderful at Sandbanks, but there aren't many shells etc. I think you would enjoy Sanibel Island in Florida, it's all shells and other treasures.

cmadden on February 14, 2013:

Sandbanks looks like a great beach!

laurenrich on February 08, 2013:

This is a terrific lens. I enjoyed the pictures. Thanks

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on November 13, 2012:

Sandbanks looks nice, but I prefer rocky beaches because this is where I can find more sea glass

tobinjonesproperty on October 01, 2012:

This is a fantastic lens, thanks! Sandbanks is an amazing beach.

julieannbrady on August 29, 2012:

From your lovely pictorial, Tony, I feel like I have been there ... and now I am all wet! ;) Congrats on the purple star.

dahlia369 on August 26, 2012:

Been here before so I'm just refreshing my memory. Great place and a wonderful lens! :)

flycatcherrr on August 26, 2012:

Oh, I enjoyed this so much - reading about Sandbanks and seeing your photos was like taking a little trip through time as well as across the ocean. Beautifully done!

robertzimmerman2 on August 26, 2012:

Very well done! Certainly makes me want to visit. We do hope to get to the UK someday.

LouiseKirkpatrick from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom on August 26, 2012:

I've got some pictures of my Dad sitting in a deckchair on the beach at Sandbanks in the late 1960s...wearing a suit! They're in colour and if you'd like to feature them along with your other "pre-development" photo's, I'd be very happy to share them with you :) My Dad died a few months after that holiday when I was only 5 and Sandbanks has always held a special place in my heart for those memories of him. I love Sandbanks and have been there many, many times since :) Congrats on your Purple Star!

Titia Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on August 25, 2012:

Well, I really enjoyed my trip to the Sandbanks, thanks to your lens. Congrats on the Purple.

Sniff It Out on August 25, 2012:

Have been to Swanage and around that area but don't recall going to Sandbanks, still that part of England is a wonderful place to visit!

Nice to see the beach hut you used too... it amazes me how much they charge for those these days!

Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on August 25, 2012:

I can see why you got a Purple star. Thank you for sharing your memories of a very special place to you.

BarbaraCasey on August 25, 2012:

I always feel like jumping on a plane after visiting one of your lenses. You portray the places you love in such an appealing way, I'm ready to go NOW. Congrats on your purple star.

Gayle from McLaughlin on August 25, 2012:

What a beautiful place. I love how you make this place come alive. I don't think I will ever make it to England, so thanks for the glimpse into this beautiful place.

anonymous on August 25, 2012:

looks like a Sandbags is a great place to bring your bucket and spade. Nicely done Tony and congrats on the purple star.

Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on August 25, 2012:

You really made me want to visit Sandbanks! But of course I'm not quite up to the life of the rich and famous ... at least not yet. It looked so lovely in the old days. Angel blessed.

Joan Haines on August 25, 2012:

The fact that you have a personal family history that connects you with this area makes it so special! The "golden sand" and warmer waters sound delightful. "Squid Angel blessed,"

Marika from Cyprus on August 24, 2012:

Well deserved purple star - with blessings!

srsddn lm on July 23, 2012:

Heard but never had any detailed info. Thanks for adding to knowledge through your lens.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on June 11, 2012:

Thanks for showcasing this area and giving your personal insight into its history. Well done!

GramaBarb from Vancouver on June 06, 2012:

Thanks for the armchair travel to Sandbanks - love the old pictures too.

AlleyCatLane on June 06, 2012:

Sounds like a beautiful place to visit. I love the old photos.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on June 01, 2012:

Lovely photos! I have visited the UK several times, but I have never been to Sandbanks or Dorset. Clearly, I need to make a plan!

eccles1 on May 26, 2012:

Great pictures !

SandyPeaks on May 08, 2012:

Thanks for the memories! I hope to go back to visit there soon. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

coldsore lm on April 13, 2012:

Sandbanks is certainly a beautiful beach. One possible rival that I have been to is Noordhoek in Cape Town.

anonymous on February 05, 2012:

I love a lens like this, like the old pictures.

DonD LM on January 30, 2012:

Hopefully I can visit the beautiful beaches in this place. Nice lense. I enjoyed reading your lense.

Joyce T. Mann from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on January 29, 2012:

The southern coast of England is gorgeous! I would love to return for another visit. What the south of England is to you, the Jersey Shore is to me. (That's NEW Jersey, in your country's former colonies!) A great lens.

norma-holt on January 11, 2012:

Gorgeous part of England. As usual a wonderful lens full ol interest and desire. *Blessed* and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2011. Hugs

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on January 07, 2012:

What a lovely sandy beach, most of our local beaches have a rocky or grassy shore. The fellows in the suits sitting in the sun made me giggle. Thanks for the interesting write up.