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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 was once horribly over commercialised but on my last visit (2017) things seemed to be a little less in your face. The chairlift is fun,
as is the boat trip round the bay and past the Needles Lighthouse.
There are plaques on each of the four sides, one of which reads:
This stone marks the site of the Needles Wireless Telegraphy Station where Guglielmo Marconi and his British collaborators carried out from 6th December 1897 the 26th May 1900
a series of experiments which constituted some of the more important phases of their earlier pioneer work in the development of wireless communication of all kinds.
Marconi built a huge 168 feet (51 m) tall mast in the grounds of what was then the Royal Needles Hotel, one of many sites he used for his experiments around that time.
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.
After the war she returned to her former route until she was withdrawn in 1969.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
Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS_Ryde
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.