Sandbanks is a sandy peninsula little more than a kilometre square that juts out across the mouth of Poole harbour. It was once offered for sale by the Guest family, who owned it, for £200. There were no takers and this tiny slip of land, connected to the mainland by a sandy beach and isthmian road, was little more than a shantytown until the sixties, with residents and summer holidaymakers inhabiting converted railway carriages, often with no water or drainage.
Now the story is very different. The main road (Panorama Road) is known as Millionaire’s Row and the peninsula has the fourth highest land value, by area, in the World. In 2005 a shabby bungalow in need of attention sold for three million pounds. The adjacent Canford Cliffs coastline is labelled by the national media as Britain’s Gold Coast or Orange County due to the area having the largest collection of expensive houses outside London, many owned by celebrities.
The peninsula is home to one of the most highly-awarded and popular beaches in the UK, as well as the Royal Motor Yacht Club, an exclusive affair that boasts the Duke of Edinburgh as its Admiral and counts Lord Mountbatten, the Duke of Westminster, the Marquis of Camden and the Marquis of Milford Haven among its members, together with Fox and Cadbury, W. L. Stephenson (Woolworths) and Lois de Rothschild.
The Sandbanks area of Poole harbour, known as North Haven Lake, is widely used for water sports and by light marine craft, and the peninsula is home to three hotels, one of which is the four-star Haven Hotel, home to Marconi in the late 1890s and the site of many of his experiments. Sandbanks was the third place in the world to boast a permanent wireless station.
Apart from its three miles of sandy beach and hugely inflated property market Sandbanks is known for being the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck because of the chain ferry that links it with Studland.