brief guide to the Isle of Wight self catering holidays
The making of sailcloth, boats and other connected maritime industry has
long been associated with the island, although somewhat diminished in
recent years. Although they have reduced the extent of the plants and
workforce, including the sale of the main site, GKN operate what was
once the British Hovercraft Corporation a subsidiary of, and latterly
when manufacturing focus changed known as, Westland Aircraft. Prior to
its purchase by Westland, it was the independent Saunders-Roe. It
remains one of the most notable historical firms; having produced many
of the flying boats, and the world's first hovercraft. The island's
major manufacturing activity today is in composite materials including a
large manufacturer of wind turbine blades, Vesta's.
The Island (Bembridge) was once the home of Britten-Norman,
manufacturers of the world famous Islander and Trilander aircraft.
A major contribution to the local economy comes from the world-famous
international sailing regatta, Cowes Week, which is held every August
and attracts over a hundred thousand visitors to the island. Other major
sailing events are held at Cowes, including the Admiral's Cup held
biennially in July and the Commodores' Cup in August.
In 2005, Northern Petroleum began exploratory drilling for oil with its
Sandhills-2 borehole at Porchfield, but ceased operations in October
that year after failing to find significant reserves.
Tourism and heritage
The heritage of the Island is a major asset which has for many years
kept its economy going. Holidays focussed on natural heritage, including
both wildlife and geology, are becoming a growing alternative to the
traditional seaside resort holiday. The latter has been in decline in
the UK domestic market due to the increased affordability of air travel
to alternative destinations.
Tourism is still the largest industry on the Island, As well as more
traditional tourist attractions, the island is often host to walking or
cycling holidays through the attractive scenery. Almost every town and
village on the Island plays host to hotels, hostels and camping sites.
Out of the peak summer season, the island is still an important
destination for coach tours from other parts of Britain and an annual
walking festival has attracted considerable interest.
Transport and communications
Ferry routes and main roads There are three ferry companies which
operate routes between the mainland and the Island:
Red Funnel - operates a car and passenger service between Southampton
and East Cowes. A high speed passenger only services operates from
"West" Cowes under the name of "Red Jet".
Wightlink - operates a car and passenger service between Portsmouth and
Fishbourne (near Ryde), and between Lymington and Yarmouth. It also
operates a passenger-only service between Portsmouth Harbour (train
station) and Ryde Pier Head (train station) under the name "Fast Cat",
so named because the boats used are catamarans.
Hovertravel - carries passengers between Southsea and Ryde aboard a
There are regular proposals for further routes, and during Cowes Week
additional services have been known to operate - notably a fast
catamaran service between West Cowes and Lymington.
A railway service operates from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin using ex
London Underground rolling stock.
A sign used to greet visitors to the Island disembarking from the car
ferry at Fishbourne, stating 'Island roads are different, please drive
carefully'. It is a joke amongst local residents that the reason Island
roads are different is due to a lack of maintenance by the council.
Nevertheless the lighter traffic, quieter roads and slower speeds are
noticeable to the visitor and are one of the reasons the Island has
remained attractive to tourists from the busier mainland.
A majority of Island telephone exchanges are broadband enabled. In
addition to the almost universal British Telecom coverage, some urban
areas are covered by cable lines.
The Isle of Wight County Press  is the major local newspaper,
published weekly each Friday or the last working day before a public
holiday falls on that day. There is also a local radio station, Isle of
Wight Radio , broadcasting on 107 and 102 FM (also available over the
internet), and a regional television station which broadcasts from the
Island, Solent TV .
The island geography close to the densely populated south of England led
to it gaining three prisons: Albany, Camphill and Parkhurst located
outside Newport on the main road to Cowes. Albany and Parkhurst were
once among the few Category A prisons in the UK until they were
downgraded in the 1990s.
Camphill is located 1 mile (1.6Km) to the west of Albany and Parkhurst,
on the very edge of Parkhurst Forest. Originally an army barracks with a
small estate of tree-lined roads with well-proportioned officer's houses
(with varying grandeur according to rank) to the South and East. Having
been converted to a borstal and later a low category prison, it
maintains its ties to the housing around it as although now most
privately owned, clean water is still provided from the prison itself
and residents pay only sewerage fees to the water authority (Southern
Water). The estate is accessed by two, gated, private roads. These are
closed for one day each year so as not to become a public right of way.
Cowes is a seaport town on the Isle of Wight, an island due south of the
major southern English port of Southampton. It is located on the west
bank of the estuary of the River Medina facing the smaller town of East
Cowes on the east Bank. The town is therefore sometimes referred to as
West Cowes, especially where distinction is needed such as at the ferry
termini. Leland's nineteenth century verses, described the towns
poetically as "The two great Cowes that in loud thunder roar, This on
the eastern, that the western shore". The two towns are linked by a
chain ferry. The combined population was 19,919 in the 1991 census, a
figure that is easily doubled during the regatta in early August.
Cowes is now renowned for sailing, Cowes Castle being home to the world
famous Royal Yacht Squadron, which ranks amongst the world's elite yacht
clubs. The town gives its name to the world's oldest regular regatta,
Cowes Week, which occurs in the first week of August. Later on in the
summer, powerboat races are held.
East Cowes is home to Norris Castle, and Osborne House, the former
summer residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Prince had a
major influence on the building of St Mildred's Church in Whippingham,
East Cowes, which features distinctive turrets imitating those found on
a German castle. Both towns' architecture is heavily influenced by the
distinctive style of ornate building which was popular in Prince
Cowes and East Cowes are key gateway towns for the Isle of Wight. Those
travelling to Southampton are served by a high speed catamaran passenger
ferry from "West" Cowes and a vehicle ferry from East Cowes. Visitors
arriving at East Cowes find it hard not to notice the worlds largest
Union Jack on the hangar doors of the building originally used by
Saunders Roe and successive marine and aerospace manufacturing
There are two theories about the origin of the name:-
Cowes and East Cowes derive their names from the time of Henry VIII,
when fortifications called cowforts or cowes were built on the east and
west banks to dispel a French invasion.
Cowes and West Cowes were named after two sandbanks, one on each side of
the River Medina estuary, and recorded in 1413 as Estcowe and Westcowe,
which were named after a supposed likeless to cows (animals).
In earlier centuries the two settlements were much smaller and known as
East and West Shamblord; the East then being more significant
settlement. The Isle of Wight had been a frequent target of attempted
French invasions with some notable incursions. The west fort survives to
this day, albeit without the original Tudor towers, as Cowes Castle but
the east fort disappeared in the eighteenth century and should not be
confused with East Cowes Castle built subsequently by John Nash
It is believed that the building of an 80 ton, 60 man vessel called Rat
O'Wight on the banks of the river Medina for the use of Queen Elizabeth
I sowed the seed for Cowes to grow into a world renowned centre of
boat-building. However, seafaring for recreation and sport remained the
exception rather than the rule until much later. It was not until the
reign of keen sailor George IV that the stage was set for the heyday of
Cowes as 'The Yachting Capital of the World.' In 1826 the Royal Yacht
Squadron organised a three-day regatta for the first time and the next
year the king signified his approval of the event by presenting a cup to
mark the occasion. This became known as Cowes Regatta and it soon grew
into a four-day event that always ended with a fireworks display.
In Cowes the 18th century house of Westbourne was home to a collector of
customs whose son, born there in 1795, lived to become Dr Thomas Arnold,
headmaster of Rugby School.
Northwood House was the home of the Ward family. It was donated under
trust to the town in 1929, the grounds becoming Northwood Park. William
George Ward was a close friend of the poet Tennyson and in whose memory
the poet wrote six lines.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, who made her summer home at Osborne
by acquiring and rebuilding Osborne House, East Cowes was the subject of
planned estate of grand houses, groves and parks. The scheme, not
finding the finances it needed, was folded, but a few residences built
in the early stages still survive to this day such as the former Albert
Grove residences of Kent House and Powys House on York Avenue.
In East Cowes Norris Castle was designed in the Norman style by James
Wyatt in the late eighteenth century. The building survives and today
remains a private home. In 1798, the architect John Nash, began building
his home, East Cowes Castle, where he later entertained the Prince
Consort and other prominent guests. East Cowes Castle was notable for
its Gothic towers and turrets, and elaborate castellation. Nash died in
1835 and is buried in the tower of East Cowes Church which he also
designed. East Cowes Castle was demolished during the 1960s, although
the ice house remains and is visible in Sylvan Avenue.
Local industry in both Cowes and East Cowes has always centred on the
building and design of marine craft, including the early flying boats,
and sailmaking. It is also noted as the place where the first hovercraft
was tested. East Cowes was also once home to the manufacturer Saunders
Roe, who built the flying boat The Saunders-Roe Princess.
Its industry and proximity to Southampton and the Royal Navy's home at
Portsmouth made the Isle a frequent target of bombing during World War
To celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Queen's coronation in 1977, the
main hanger doors of what was then the British Hovercraft Corporation (a
successor to Saunders Roe) were painted with the world's largest image
of the Union Jack.
The Isle of Wight is an island off the south coast of England, opposite
Southampton. Popularized from Victorian times as a holiday resort, it is
known for its areas of natural beauty and as home to the Royal Yacht
Squadron at Cowes, a town that hosts a world famous annual regatta.
Colloquially, it is known as "The Island" by its residents and it
possesses a rich history including its own brief status as a vassal
kingdom in the fifteenth century, home to poet Alfred Lord Tennyson and
Queen Victoria's much loved summer residence and final home Osborne
House. Its maritime history encompasses boat building and sail making
through to the manufacture of flying boats and the world's first
hovercraft. It is home to the Isle of Wight Festival which in 1970 was
one of the largest Rock music events ever held with estimates reaching
600,000 attendees, overtaking the record set at Woodstock a year
earlier. The island is also one of the richest fossil locations for
dinosaurs in Europe. In 686AD, it became the last part of Great Britain
to convert to Christianity - almost a century after the mainland.
Until the revival of Rutland in 1997 it was the smallest county in
England but it remains, with just one Member of Parliament and 132,731
permanent residents in the 2001 census, the most populated Parliamentary
constituency in the United Kingdom.
Geography & Wildlife
The Isle of Wight is approximately diamond in shape and covers an area
of 147 square miles (381 square km). Nearly half this area, mainly in
the west of the Island, is designated as the Isle of Wight Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape of the Island is remarkably
diverse, leading to its oft-quoted description of "England in
Miniature". The West Wight is predominantly rural, with dramatic
coastlines dominated by the famous chalk downland ridge, running across
the whole Island and ending in The Needles stacks - perhaps the most
photographed aspect of the Isle of Wight. The highest point on the
island is St Boniface Down, at 241m/791ft, which is also a Marilyn.
The rest of the Island landscape also has great diversity, with perhaps
the most notable habitats being the soft cliffs and sea ledges, which
are spectacular features as well as being very important for wildlife,
and are internationally protected. The River Medina flows north into the
Solent, whilst the other main river, the River Yar flows roughly
north-east, emerging at Bembridge Harbour on the eastern end of the
Island. Confusingly, there is another entirely separate river at the
western end also called the River Yar flowing the short distance from
Freshwater Bay to a relatively large estuary at Yarmouth. Where
distinguishing the two becomes necessary, each may be referred to as the
eastern or western Yar. The south coast of the island adjoins the
Island wildlife is remarkable, thought to be the only place in England
where the red squirrel is flourishing, with a stable population. Unlike
the rest of England, no grey squirrels are to be found on the Island,
nor are there any wild deer, but instead rare and protected species such
as the dormouse, and many rare bats can be found. The Glanville
Fritillary butterfly, in the United Kingdom is largely restricted to the
edges of the crumbling cliffs of the Isle of Wight.
Isle of Wight and the Solent. By far the main form of access is by boat
from the mainland, regular ferry services being available from Lymington
to Yarmouth, Southampton to East Cowes, and Portsmouth to Fishbourne.
Foot passengers may also use the hovercraft service between Southsea and
Ryde esplanade or two hi-speed catamaran services; from West Cowes to
Southampton or Portsmouth Harbour Station to Ryde pier head. The latter
provides a direct link between the rail systems of the Island and
Mainland. The island is also served by airports for light aircraft at
Bembridge and Sandown.
The island is the home of the smallest Train Operating Company in
Britain's National Rail network, the Island Line, running some 8˝ miles
from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin down the eastern side of the island. The
island also has a steam operated heritage railway, the Isle of Wight
Steam Railway, which connects with the Island Line at Smallbrook
Much of the land now making up the Isle of Wight was deposited during
the late Cretaceous, at times part of a large river valley complex which
consisted of much of the current southern coast of England. The swamps
and ponds of the region at that time made the island excellent for the
preservation of fossils, and means that it is now one of the richest
locations for finding dinosaurs in Europe.
The Isle of Wight became an island sometime after the end of the last
Ice Age when post-glacial rebound caused the land level to sink, the
Solent flooding and separating the island from the mainland. The island
was part of Celtic Britain and known to the Romans as Vectis, captured
by Vespasian in the Roman invasion. After the Roman era the Isle of
Wight was settled by the Jutes, a Germanic tribe, in the early stages of
the Anglo-Saxon invasions. The latter's corruption of Vectis into Wiht
(the Latin v was pronounced [w]) is the root of the island's name.
Memorial to Charles I at Carisbrooke CastleThe Norman Conquest created
the position of Lord of the Isle of Wight. Carisbrooke Priory and the
fort of Carisbrooke Castle were founded. The island did not come under
full control of the crown until it was sold to Edward I in 1293. The
Lordship thereafter became a Royal appointment with a brief interruption
when Henry de Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick was crowned King of the
Isle of Wight, King Henry VI assisting in person at the ceremony,
placing the crown on his head. He died in 1445, aged 22. With had no
male heir, his regal title expired with him.
Henry VIII, who developed the Royal Navy and its permanent base at
Portsmouth, fortified the island at Yarmouth, East & West Cowes and
Sandown, sometimes re-using stone from dissolved monasteries as building
material. Sir Richard Worsley, Captain of the Island at this time,
successfully commanded the resistance to the last of the French attacks
in 1545. Much later on after the Spanish Armada in 1588 the threat of
Spanish attacks remained, and the outer fortifications of Carisbrooke
Castle were built between 1597 and 1602. During the English Civil War
King Charles fled to the Isle of Wight believing he would receive
sympathy from the governor Robert Hammond. Hammond was appalled, and
incarcerated the king in Carisbrooke Castle.
Osborne House and its magnificent grounds are now open to the
publicQueen Victoria made Osborne House on the Isle of Wight her summer
home for many years, and as a result it become a major holiday resort
for members of European royalty, whose many houses could later claim
descent from her through the widely flung marriages of her offspring.
During her reign in 1897 the World's first radio station was set up by
Marconi at the Needles battery at the western tip of the Island.
In 1904 a mysterious illness began to kill honeybee colonies on the
island, and had nearly wiped out all hives by 1907 when the disease
jumped to the mainland, and decimated beekeeping in the British Isles.
Called the Isle of Wight Disease, the cause of the mystery ailment was
not identified until 1921 when it was traced to the mite Acarapis woodi.
The disease (now called Acarine Disease) frightened many other nations
because of the importance of bees in pollination of many food plants.
Laws against importation of honeybees were passed, but this merely
delayed the eventual spread of the parasite to the rest of the world.
The Isle of Wight Festival could describe several events, but usually
the term refers to one very large rock festival that took place near
Afton Down, West Wight in 1970, following two smaller concerts in 1968
and 1969. The 1970 show was notable for being the last public
performance by Jimi Hendrix before his death and the number of attendees
reaching, by many estimates 600,000[] despite only 50,000 tickets
being sold and overtaking the attendance at Woodstock in the previous
year. The festival was revived in 2002 and is now an annual event - with
other, smaller musical events of many different genres across the Island
becoming associated with it.
Principle towns on the Isle Of Wight
Newport, Isle of Wight
Although there are traces of Roman settlement in the area, probably
known as Medina, there was little later use until after the Norman
conquest with the first charter being granted late in the twelfth
century. In 1377 an invading French force burnt down much of the town
while attempting to take Carisbrooke Castle, then under the command of
Sir Hugh Tyrill. A group of French were captured and killed, then buried
in a tumulus later nicknamed Noddies Hill, a "noddy" being medieval
slang for a body. This was later corrupted to Nodehill, a name confusing
to many as the area is flat.
The town was incorporated as a borough in 1608. The town's position as
an area of trade accessible to the sea meant it rapidly took over from
Carisbrooke as the main central settlement, eventually absorbing the
latter as a suburb. The borough ceased to exist in 1974 after the
incorporation of the larger Borough of Medina, which was itself
superseded in 1995 by a single unitary authority covering the whole of
the Isle of Wight
Seaclose Park in Newport, located on the east bank of the River Medina,
has since 2002 become the location for the revived Isle of Wight Music
Festival, which is held annually.
Location within the British IslesThe ancient 'Kynges Towne' of Brading
is the main town of the parish of the same name, which used to cover
about a tenth of the Isle of Wight but now includes the town itself and
Adgestone, Morton, Nunwell and other outlying areas between Ryde, St
Helen's, Bembridge, Sandown and Arreton.
From early times, Brading ranked as an important Island port. The
ancient name of Brerdynge, from which 'Brading' is derived, probably
meant (according to 'Place Names of the Isle of Wight') the people
living by the ridge of the Downs and dates from at least 683.
The Roman Villa south of the town, as well as the numerous relics of the
Roman period discovered in the area, show that this was a seaport of
some note 2,000 years ago. Signs of prehistoric activity have also been
found on Brading Down.
Local history records that St Wilfrid came to the Island during the
680's, landed at Brading, preached there to the Islanders and began the
conversion of the Island, possibly establishing his first church there.
This is not consistent with Wilfrid's known biography.
Royal charter and governance
The charter granted to Brading by Edward VI in 1548 makes reference to a
previous charter granted by Edward I in 1285. In recognition of this
status as a town, Brading still has a mayor and an elected town council.
In mediaeval times the town was governed by the Steward, Bailiffs and 13
Jurats, and returned two MPs to the Westminster Parliament. Now the town
is a part of the Isle of Wight parliamentary constituency.
The old port
Until the 16th century the port was active. Ships lay alongside at the
quay behind the Bugle Inn in the High Street. Ships came into Brading
Haven for shelter and for provisions, particularly water, which was of a
high quality. The north-eastern part of the haven was closed off by an
embankment completed in 1594, much of which is still present. Ships
would then tie up at the far end of Quay Lane on the other side of the
Throughout the Middle Ages various attempts were made to drain off the
rest of the harbour; for it had gradually become silted up and, except
for the main channel of the river, was too shallow to be of any
commercial use. Sir Hugh Myddleton, who had constructed the New River
from Enfield to central London for James I, undertook this work; but the
sea broke in and flooded the land once again. After others had also
tried and failed, this reclamation was finally accomplished in 1881 by
the building of a substantial embankment right across the harbour, with
the building of the railway to Bembridge.
So Brading now shares with Winchelsea and Romney the distinction of
being a seaport without any sea. Losing access to the sea caused Brading
to decline in importance and prevented the sort of growth enjoyed by
Cowes and Newport.
The Town Hall
An historic Old Town Hall stands near to the church. The New Town Hall
dates from 1903. There is no record of the earliest Town Hall, but an
entry in The Court Leet Book 1729 refers to the assessment of one
shilling rate, and also a subscription towards building a new Town Hall,
Market House and Prison. In 1730 an extra 3d was added to the rate for
the Town Hall. This new building remained until 1876 when it was
restored to its present state, and then contained the Free Town Library.
Before the building of the first school in 1823, the children were
taught in the Town Hall, and it was also used for Mother's Meetings. The
Town Trust now owns the building. Brading was formerly the testing place
for weights & measures for all of East Wight and these standards are
still kept in the upper building together with the Town Charter.
The Bull Ring
Set in the ground outside the new Town Hall (1903) there is an iron
bullring which, in its original location was once used to secure a bull
whilst it was being baited by dogs. According to the diaries of Sir John
Oglander, the Governor of the Isle of Wight would donate 5 guineas for
the purchase of the bull to be baited; the meat was afterwards donated
to the poor of the town. The Mayor attended this ceremony in full
regalia and a dog, known as the Mayor's Dog, would be decked with
coloured ribbons and set on the bull after the proclamation had been
The Town Gun
The town possesses a gun. It is a brass piece, made in 1549 by the Owine
Brothers, John and Robert, so that the town might be defended from
French invasion. The gun was never used in action, but was taken to the
top of Brading Down in 1832 so that it could be fired to celebrate the
passing of the Reform Bill. Unfortunately it exploded and split putting
a stop to celebrations for the day.
Wildlife and Landscape
The southern half of the town is in the Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty. There are two Sites of Important Nature Conservation close to
Morton and another on the downs. Brading Down is a popular viewpoint and
downland beauty spot, with outstanding views over Culver Down and
Sandown Bay. From the north side of the hill you can look over the town
towards the mainland. From further up you can see the Solent and the
Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth. This elevated site is also of great
archaeological importance, with prehistoric, Roman and mediaeval
remains, as well as practice trenches from the first world war.
The RSPB Brading Marshes nature reserve is the first RSPB reserve on the
Isle of Wight. Situated on the reclaimed land of the old harbour, behind
the present-day Bembridge Harbour, it was bought in 2001 and is a mix of
lagoons and ditches, reed beds and meadows, with a fringe of ancient
Brading is served by the Island Line Railway with direct connection to
the Wightlink ferry at Ryde Pier Head and stops at Ryde, Smallbrook,
Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. Brading is also on the Island’s circular
cycle route used for the annual “Bicycle Island Randonee”.
The main road from Ryde to Sandown passes through the town.
The town is well connected to the surrounding countryside by footpaths
and bridleways. The Bembridge Trail passes through the town along
Doctors Lane, Cross Street, High Street and Quay Lane (Wall Lane) then
along the top of the embankment to St Urian's Copse. There are 71 other
footpaths, by-ways and bridle paths in the civil parish area and
organised parties of walkers may often be seen meeting at the station or
Features of the Town
The main street of Brading contains most of the facilities expected of a
large village, or in Brading's case, small town. There are three pubs
and a restaurant in the town, and one at nearby Yarbridge. The Church of
St Mary's is at the north end of the town and the Methodist chapel is
near the centre. There is a small supermarket, a post office, a
newsagents, several other specialist shops, at least three teashops and
a fish and chip shop.
Brading has many attractions to tempt the visitor, quite apart from the
natural beauty of the area. These include the famous Isle of Wight
Waxworks Museum; the Lilliput Doll and Toy Museum; The Roman Villa at
Morton with its protective cover (new in 2004) and interpretation
centre; and Morton Manor with its vineyard and gardens.
One of the town's claims to fame is that the boards used in churches all
over the world to display hymn numbers were invented here by the Rev
Legh Richmond, who was curate-in-charge of Brading and Yaverland 1757 to
1805, and a famous writer of inspirational evangelist pamphlets at that
Dr Thomas Arnold headmaster of Rugby School
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
John Nash (architect).
Lord Mountbatten of Burma (in childhood), later last Viceroy of India at
Kent House, East Cowes
Cliff Michelmore - BBC television and radio presenter/producer
Mark King - Internationally acclaimed guitarist and principal founder of
the Pop Group Level 42
Robert Stigwood - Music and Film producer, acclaimed for Grease and
Saturday Night Fever, lives in Barton Manor, East Cowes and annually
opens parts of the house, and the spectacular gardens, to the public in
aid of a local charity.
Ryde is an English seaside town and the largest urban area on the Isle
of Wight, with a population of approximately 26,000. It is situated on
the north-east coast.
The town grew in size as a seaside resort following the joining of the
villages of Upper Ryde and Lower Ryde in the nineteenth century. The
influence of this era is still strongly visible in the town's central
and sea facing architecture.
As a resort, the town is noted for its expansive sands that occur at low
tide, making its pier necessary on the wide beach for a regular
passenger service. Ryde Pier is a listed structure which is the fourth
longest in the United Kingdom, and also the oldest. At one time Ryde had
two piers; the other being the Victoria Pier.
The hovercraft to Southsea operates from the esplanade close to the Ryde
Esplanade railway station and bus station. A catamaran service run by
Wightlink operates from Ryde Pier to Portsmouth Harbour which connects
with both Island Line trains and mainland trains to London Waterloo.
An ice rink and a pavilion, converted to house a night club and bowling
alley feature on the esplanade, the former being the home of the Isle of
Wight's ice-hockey team, the "Wightlink Raiders".
David Icke - is a Ryde resident
Sam Browne - the soldier after whom the belt was named, retired and
lived the last years of his life in a house called Argosy on East Hill
Philip Norman - the writer who attended Ryde School and has written
about his childhood on the Island.
Karl Marx visited Ryde for health reasons in the summer of 1874
Michael Sheard - the actor who played Mr Bronson in Grange Hill and
appeared in Star Wars, lived in Ryde and died there in 2005.
Raymond Allen - the TV writer who attended Ryde Secondary Modern School
and wrote the BBC series Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.
William Hutt, the colonial administrator, was educated in Ryde
William Booth - the founder of the Salvation Army spent the first part
of his honeymoon in Ryde
Anthony Minghella - the Hollywood director was born in Ryde in 1954. His
parents are well-known local residents, and own an ice cream factory in
Wootton (about 2 miles away). At the time of his birth they ran a cafe
in Ryde High Street.
Albert Pollard - the historian was born in Ryde on 16 December 1869.
The Isle of Wight is a Ceremonial and Administrative county and as it
has no district councils (only the county council) it is effectively a
Unitary county, though not officially. It is unique in England in this
way - all other Unitary areas are single districts with no county
council, while the Isle of Wight is the other way round. It also has a
single Member of Parliament, and is by far the most populous
constituency in the UK (more than 50% above the average of English
As a constituency of the House of Commons it is traditionally a
battleground between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The
current MP, Andrew Turner is a Conservative, and his predecessor Dr
Peter Brand was a Liberal Democrat.
The Isle of Wight Council election of 2005 was a landslide victory for
the Conservative party, displacing the long serving "Island First"
group; a coalition of Liberal Democrats and independents.
Language and dialect
The distinctive Isle of Wight accent is a somewhat stronger version of
the traditional Hampshire dialect, featuring the dropping of some
consonants and an emphasis on longer vowels. This is similar to the West
Country drawl heard in south-western England, but less removed in sound
from the Estuary English of the South East. The spread of the latter in
general, together with continuing immigration, means the broader accent
is more prevalent in the older population.
The island also has its own lexical style. Some words like grockel
(visitor) and nipper/nips (addressing a younger person) are commonly
used and are shared with neighbouring regions. Others are unique, for
example mallishag (meaning caterpillar) and nammit (meaning food),
although neither of these examples are now in common usage.
Industry and agriculture
The largest industry on the Isle of Wight is tourism, but the Island has
a strong agricultural heritage, including sheep, dairy farming and
arable crops. Traditional agricultural commodities are more difficult to
market off the Island because of transport costs, but Island farmers
have managed to successfully exploit some specialist markets. The high
price of these products overcomes the transport costs. One of the most
successful agricultural sectors at present is crops grown undercover,
particularly salad crops including tomatoes and cucumbers. The Isle of
Wight has a longer growing season than much of Britain, and this also
favours such crops. Garlic has been successfully grown in Newchurch for
many years, and is even exported to France. This has led to the
establishment of an annual Garlic Festival at Newchurch, which is one of
the largest events of the Island's annual calendar. The favourable
climate has led to the success of vineyards, including one of the oldest
in the British Isles, at Adgestone near Sandown. Lavender is also grown
for its oil.