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Isle of Wight Gazetteer

I used to think I knew the South Coast of England pretty well, until I went to the Isle of Wight. Then I discovered that Iʼd missed a whole chunk.

Although technically an island, in that it is surrounded by water, in geological terms it is a bit of the South Coast that has become detached. It feels more like that as well; detached both from the mainland and from the present day, but without the remoteness of a real island.

Alum Chine

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 306 854

Last Visited: 1988

Alum Chine is horribly over commercialised, but the chairlift is fun. The boat trip round the bay and past the Needles Lighthouse is also worth the effort.

Check the Needles Park at Alum Bay website for opening times etc.

External Links and References

  • External Links

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Bembridge Lifeboat Station

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 657 882

Last Visited: 2014

Bembridge Lifeboat Station

Bembridge Lifeboat Station

The current Bembridge Lifeboat Station and walkway was completed in October 2010 at a cost of £7,850,000.

The Tamar Class lifeboat ON1297 Alfred Albert Williams arrived on station on 26th September, and after crew training and familiarisation became operational on 20th October.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Bembridge Lifeboat
      The official site with details of opening times and much more.
      http://www.bembridgelifeboat.org.uk/

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Blackgang Chine

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 487 767

Last Visited: 1988

Landslides and Cliffs

Landslides and Cliffs

Here be Pirates

Here be Pirates

Blackgang Chine is one for the kids really. However it still manages to retain some of its Victorian atmosphere, and the views are superb.

This whole stretch of coast is notoriously unstable, and the suspicion that the bit your standing on is about to slip into the sea adds a certain amount of tension to the visit.

The Sawmill attraction, set in a reconstructed water mill is worth visiting. And, since we visited, theyʼve built a reconstruction of a 19th Century quayside, which I wouldnʼt mind going back to see.

Check the Blackgang Chine website for opening times etc.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Blackgang Chine
      Also includes a history of the site
      http://www.blackgangchine.com/

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Needles Old and New Batteries

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 296 849

Last Visited: 1988

Great trip this. To get to the Needles Old and New Batteries, catch the open-top (Needles Breezer) bus from Yarmouth (before the hoards get on at Alum Bay).

There is no public vehicular access to the site, which is up a spectacular narrow winding road

Gun - Needles Old Battery

Gun - Needles Old Battery

The fort, built in 1862, is now in the hands of the National Trust. It still retains its original gun barrels, and the laboratory, searchlight position and position-finding cells have all been restored. A tunnel leads to a dramatic view of the Hampshire and Dorset coastline from a position immediately above the Needles themselves.

Whilst your there, take a walk round to Scratchellʼs Bay, and visit the remains of Britainʼs top secret rocket launching site, where the satellite launching rocket Black Arrow was tested.

Check the National Trustʼs website for opening times etc.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • The Needles Old and New Battery
      National Trust Handbook entry detailing opening times, ticket prices, facilities, etc.
      https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-needles-old-battery-and-new-battery
    • The High Down Testing Site
      Information and old photos of the High Down Testing Site. Click the Black Knight link at the bottom of the page for more info.
      http://www.spaceuk.org/bk/hd/highdown.htm
    • Southern Vectis
      Revamped and much improved.
      http://www.islandbuses.info/

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PS Ryde

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 508 918

Last Visited: 2017

For a once proud vessel like the PS Ryde to end up a rotting hulk on the banks of the Medina at Island Harbour Marina seems shameful.

Launched in 1937 by the Southern Railway for the ferry service between Portsmouth and Ryde, during the Second World War she served initially as a minesweeper, before being converted into an anti-aircraft vessel in 1942 and taking part in the Normandy Landings.

PS Ryde Island Harbour

PS Ryde
Island Harbour

After the war she returned to her former route until she was withdrawn in 1969. She was bought by two entrepreneurs, moored in her current position and turned into a nightclub. This closed in the 1980s, and since then she has been slowly deteriorating.

There was a failed attempt to raise funds to restore her in 2009, and the current owners of the Island Harbour Marina have been tying to find ways to save her. However, it seems highly likely that she is now beyond repair and will shortly be cut up for scrap.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • PS Ryde
      Wikipedia article
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS_Ryde

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Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 586 813

Last Visited: 2014

The Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower

The Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower

The Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower on the Esplanade in Shanklin was erected to mark Queen Victoriaʼs Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

It is built from locally quarried white ashlar stone and cast iron, and is surmounted by a quaint pyramidal roof.

Look out for the drinking fountain on the side of the tower with its two pretty birds and the stern admonishment to "Keep the Pavement Dry".

The Keep the Pavement Dry Tap

The Keep the Pavement Dry Tap

There are two plaques. The first reads:

This clock tower was paid by subscription from the Lord of the Manor and the inhabitants of Shanklin to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria 1897

Iʼm guessing that this is a replacement cut into the original stone which had become illegible as it is suspiciously similar to the second plaque which reads:

This plaque was unveiled by the Mayor of Shanklin to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

External Links and References

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St Catherine's Lighthouse

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 498 753

Last Visited: 1988

St Catherine's Lighthouse

St Catherine's Lighthouse

St Catherine's Lighthouse

St Catherine's Lighthouse

The present tower of St Catherineʼs Lighthouse was constructed in 1838 following the loss of the sailing ship Clarendon on nearby rocks.

It was reduced in height by 13 metres in 1875 as the lantern frequently became covered in mist. They did this by taking about six metres out of the uppermost section and about seven metres out of the middle tier, which has left it looking a bit odd.

It is one of the few lighthouses in the UK still open to the public. Tours are operated by Andrew Booth, under licence from The Corporation of Trinity House.

Check the Vistor Centreʼs website for opening times etc.

External Links and References

  • External Links

Comments

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mike barter

wondering if my brother paul edward morris, is still currently volunteering his time,in any form,to the saint katherines lighthouse? i hope so.

Yarmouth Castle

Location

Iow Map

OS Ref: SZ 353 897

Last Visited: 1998

Yarmouth Castle

Yarmouth Castle

Shoot that Ferry

Shoot that Ferry

Nestling in the middle of the town, the domestic buildings of Yarmouth Castle are surprisingly homely snuggling behind the huge gun emplacement.

This was the last and most sophisticated of Henry VIIIʼs Device Forts completed after his death in 1547.

I canʼt help feeling that this must have been one of the better places to be posted.

Check the English Heritage website for opening times etc.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Yarmouth Castle
      English Heritage Handbook entry
      http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/yarmouth-castle/

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