Lee-on-the-Solent, often called Lee-on-Solent, is a small seaside town five miles west of Portsmouth, on the edge of The Solent. The Solent is a twenty mile long stretch of water that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. It is a major shipping lane for commercial traffic and is also used for water sports and yachting.
The town is now largely a residential area, although there were attempts in the 19th century to develop it into a seaside resort, when it acquired its name of Lee-on-Solent. In the 1890s, Marine Parade, a pier and a railway service, were established as well as the construction of impressive large houses and hotels. The railway was closed in the 1930s and the pier was demolished in 1958. However, in 1935 the Lee Tower Complex was built on the seafront. This comprised a cinema, ballroom and restaurant and also a tower, 120 feet tall, with a viewing gallery. The complex was demolished in 1971. The land is now the promenade and a garden in memory of the members of the Fleet Air Arm, who lost their lives in World War II, but have no known grave. Lee-on-the-Solent is home to the Hovercraft Museum, which is open to the public on Saturdays.
Lee-on-the-Solent has an attractive shingle beach, which is directly opposite Cowes on the Isle of Wight. On a clear day it is possible to see Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favourite house. In the distance can be seen the chimney of Fawley Power Station, which is 650 feet tall and was closed in 2013. Next to this is Fawley Oil Refinery, the largest in the United Kingdom.