West Mersea (formerly spelt Mersey) is a small town and electoral ward in the Colchester borough of Essex, England. It is the larger of two settlements on Mersea Island, located south of Colchester. The smaller settlement on the island is the village of East Mersea.
The West Mersea Yacht Club is a notable centre for sailing on the East coast of England. The town also boasts an RNLI lifeboat station. The town hosts an annual regatta, usually in August each year, known as Mersea Week.
Roman buildings and tessalated pavements located close to the current quayside have led to suggestions that a small Roman settlement and port existed on the site of the modern town, with a road linking it to the nearby town of Camulodunum (modern Colchester). The nearby burial mound to the north of the town is also of Roman date.
Edward the Confessor granted the island to the abbey of St. Ouen in Rouen, France in 1046, and the Priory of West Mersea was established.
In July 1963, the lifeboat station was established next to the West Mersea Yacht Club, one of the first ten inshore lifeboat stations in the British Isles. Originally served by a D class lifeboat, this was replaced by a B class, Atlantic 21, lifeboat in 1972. In 1992, a new boathouse and slipway were opened by the Duke of Kent. In 2001, a B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat was stationed at West Mersea.
In 1954, a tragedy happened. A man called Ian Hude decided to drive along the causeway when the tide was in. He drove down the road and his car stopped. He got out and slipped on the road as the water was coming in at a fast speed. He was swept away and drowned.
The town is served by a community centre, various shops, restaurants, small hotels, public houses, a petrol station, bank, library, police station and several churches, including St Peter and St Paul, (Norman, Church of England), Roman Catholic, Methodist and the Evangelical Free Church.
West Mersea has a high proportion of elderly people, so many of the town's amenities cater for them.
The island has a substantial number of caravan parks, and along with other areas of the Essex coast, the island attracts many visitors from London and the Home Counties in summer.
Mersea has a strong sense of community and tradition. A regular publication, the Mersea Courier, lists many local activities. These include Pond Watch, The Night Sky, Christian Viewpoint and Speed Learn.
Additionally the Island is famous for its Oysters which are taken from its Oyster beds dating back to the Roman era.