The Needles, Isle of Wight

The history of the Isle of Wight dates back to the Iron Age, with much evidence of settlement being discovered through archaeology and ancient structures which still stand today. 

The Needles History
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The Battery

This military battery was built in 1861 to 1863, and its purpose was to protect the West end of the Solent and defend against the enemy ships.

How did the rocks get there name?

Originally, there were four rocks. The name the Needles comes from the fourth rock, which was needle-shaped and known as ‘Lot’s Wife’.

“But Lot’s wife, who was behind him, began to look back, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Genesis 19v26, (JW.org)

Sadly, that 4th pillar fell down in 1764, and the collapse was that great, it is said that it was felt in Portsmouth, on the other side of the Island and over The Solent.

These unusually vertical rocks are a result of heavy folding of chalk. The remaining stacks are of very hard chalk that is resistant to erosion.

(Source)

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The Chair lift

They have a chair lift to take you down to the beach at the bottom of the cliff, here they have boat rides available to the base of the needles. They can range from a 15 minute ride or 20.



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Steam Railways

We were on holiday on the Isle of Wight not long ago and were taken to a a place called Ryde. Here, they have a fully functional steam railway!

The steam railway is only 5 miles long, which is only a small fraction of the once stretched over 55 miles long.

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How did it all begin?

The railway first opened in 1862 between Cowes and Newport. However, it was not until 1900 that the island received its second railway and the rail complex was complete.

Sadly after 2 world wars, their economic status was questioned and as a result lines to Bembridge, Freshwater and the very last line opened to Ventnor, all closed. This was in 1950.

Just 15 years later, the lines between Cowes, Ventnor to Ryde were the ones now under threat. But by now, this line was unique and was becoming a tourist attraction for fascinated historians. There was interest from several parties trying to protect was was left.

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Ron Strutt

(His Obituary)

Who is he? Well when he was a teenager, he’d tried to buy one of the old Island engines from British Rail but sadly hadn’t succeeded. He didn’t give up as he saw how important it was.

“Ron and friend Iain Whitlam called a meeting in south London during late ’65 to gather interest from like minded people in possibly preserving something of the old Island railways.”

Official steam railway website

Whitlam coined the name Wight Locomotive Society. They agreed to try and secure at least one ex London & South Western Railway O2 class engine and possibly a carriage or few.

The line from Cowes to Ryde remained open until February 1966 and only part of the Ventnor route, that from Shanklin to Ventnor itself closed in April the same year.

If you would like to read more about the history, please click the following link to learn more.


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Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Around about 2 weeks ago, we visited the popular Osborne house on the Isle of Wight down at the south of England. It took us 12 hours to get to the Isle of Wight in total as we were part of a coach party.

Click on the videos above to see the grounds and house in video.

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Bit of a back story…

“Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight in 1845. There they created a private home away from court life. Victoria used Osborne for over 50 years, entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers, finding solace there after Albert’s death in 1861. Today, many of the rooms are still filled with original furniture and works of art, while the planting in the grounds is to Albert’s designs.”

English Heritage

This house wasn’t built for them but was owned by a previous family – the Blachford family. The estate came into their hands in 1705 and from 1774-1781, Robert Pope Blachford extended and adapted the existing house and added a walled kitchen garden.

At the time when Victoria and Albert were looking for a seaside resort to relax in, Lady Isabella Blachford owned the Osborne estate. The happy couple leased and then bought the estate in 1845 and 3 years later demolished it because was too small.

If you would like to download a plan of Osborne, click the link below which has been provided by the English Heritage site.

SITE PLAN OSBORNE HOUSE.

Photos taken from English Heritage

Albert died in 1861 away from Osborne house, but Queen Victoria died here in her quarters in 1901.

None of her successors wanted to take on the upkeep so in 1902, Edward VII gave the estate to the nation. Only part of the ground floor was public in 1904 as other parts were transformed into a convalescent home for officers.

In 1903, part of the estate was convertred into a college for naval cadets but years later in 1921, it was closed as Royal Naval College Dartmouth took over.

“In 1933 many of its ‘temporary’ buildings were demolished and thereafter a succession of short-term tenants occupied the site.” – EH.

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Osborne today…

In 1945, Queen Elizabeth II unlocked Victoria and Alberts private rooms after being locked for 44 years. In 1977 the rooms were redecorated.

In 2012 Queen Victoria’s private beach opened and then in 2014, £1.65 million was spent refurbishing the Swiss Cottage.


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