Saturday, 6 December 2008

Where We've Stayed (Part One) - Fairway Holiday Park, Sandown

Fairway Holiday Park in Sandown is a fairly small, independent site comprising about 120 units, all of them six or eight berth caravans which are well-maintained and always clean.

Although it no longer appears to have a shop on site, there is a grocer's store immediately opposite the entrance to the park which sells a reasonable selection of all the basic foods, as well as newspapers and most of the usual provisions. If what you are looking for can't be found there then Sandown itself is about 15-20 minutes away on foot.

Fairway boasts a small swimming pool, a mini-arcade, a launderette and a children's play area. It also has an excellent clubhouse where one can purchase food, which is of a pretty good quality.

Later in the evening the entertainment is well worth the experience. Although it being a small site Fairway doesn't enjoy the range of visiting acts that some of the bigger holiday parks can call upon, its own resident entertainer is hugely versatile and more than a match for many if not most of the guest cabaret acts that you'll see elsewhere on the Island.

Having spent our first few years as regular visitors to the Island staying at Fairway, by accident rather than design we ended up broadening our portfolio of holiday venues. Nevertheless when The Sun sent us to Fairway again in June 2007 we were very happy to be going back, and very pleased to learn that in spite of some welcome asthetic improvements to the site itself the entertainment that we had been so fond of was still the same.

I'd be extremely interested to learn of others' experiences at this very pleasant holiday park

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Human Side of Island War Memorials

By Geoff Allan

This is an edited version of the talk which Geoff Allan gave at the One Day Conference in May. Geoff has been researching the Island’s War Memorials for over 15 years. He is a Regional Volunteer for the War Memorials Trust and a fieldworker for the National Inventory of War Memorials.

Before the mid-Victorian period, wars and battles were rarely commemorated at the soldiers’ or sailors’ level. Often, memorials were erected to honour distinguished Admirals or Generals, or massive structures such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. During the Crimean War, which is considered to the first modern war, advances in telegraphic systems meant that the daily progress of the War could be followed from the despatches of Roger Fenton of The Times and this made it apparent that it was individuals in the rank and file who often contributed to the success or failure of the war. The instigation of the Victoria Cross for valour, available to all ranks, whether officers or men, emphasised the personal nature of the award.

The Isle of Wight has contributed much in the way of manpower and materials to war efforts, but for the purposes of this article, it is the human side of the Memorials which will be discussed. We know of very few Islanders who fought in the Crimean War. The next major conflict, the South African or Boer Wars of 1899 – 1902 saw hundreds of Island men volunteering for service; the Newport Memorial names 154 men, of whom perhaps 5 or 6 died. The Great War of 1914 – 1919 had the greatest effect on the Island’s population. Very few families could not have been impacted, with thousands of men, Territorials and Regulars, conscripts and volunteers, going off to fight. As an indication, the Barton School Memorial names 79 old boys who died, but it also records the fact that 750 served. A total of 1650 men and women died in the Great War, according to the count made by the Isle of Wight County Press based on the casualty reports in The Times and it is this number whose names appear on the County War Memorial at Carisbrooke Castle. It is almost impossible to give a precise figure for the Second World War; over 800 names have been recorded on Island Memorials, but there must be more as even today, no names for the Second World War have been compiled for the Cowes area. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, some 227 Island civilians lost their lives as a result of enemy action, mainly in air raids, between 1939 and 1945. Subsequently, a number of Island men have been killed in the small wars and campaigns of the 20th and 21st century, including in Korea, Malaya, the Gulf, the Falkland Islands, and Northern Ireland.

On the Isle of Wight, perhaps the earliest example of a War Memorial is that placed by William Henry DAWES on the Hoy Monument on the Downs above Chale Green. This is somewhat ironic bearing in mind that the Monument was originally erected by Michael Hoy in honour of the Russian Tsar Alexander I. Dawes dedicated his plaque to the 22nd Regiment who fought against the Russians in Sevastopol, Alma and Inkerman. Little is known of Dawes; he was born in St Helens, lived for a time in The Hermitage, Hoy’s former home, and died in Whitwell in 1863.

A further connection with the Crimean War is to be found at St John’s Church in Ryde, where the Calthorpe chapel contains several plaques to members of that family including one to the Hon Somerset John Gough CALTHORPE. It states that he was ADC (Aide-de-Camp) to Lord Raglan during this war, and mentions that he was first Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council from 1890 to 1898. What it doesn’t mention is that he was embroiled in a law suit begun by Lord Cardigan who believed that Calthorpe had libelled him in an account of the Cavalry charges of the War. Although the initial review of the case indicated that a libel had been made, the case never came to court, so neither was able to fully satisfy their honour.

One further mention of Crimea can be found at St John’s Church in Wroxall. In the porch is a plaque which records the gift of the church clock by Henry Charles MILLETT, RN. The church tower was built especially to receive the clock, supposed to have come from a London Department store. Although Millett is shown as formerly of the Royal Navy, further research is required to determine his role in the War, and for this, it is necessary to know which ships he served in. However, by examining the Census returns from Wroxall in 1901, we find that he was described as a Marine Engineer, born in Bradford in Wiltshire, and going further back he was engaged by Trinity House as a Lighthouse Engineer at Souter Point in Co Durham, where he was resident with his wife, eleven children and two servants. In 1887 he was posted to St Catherine’s Lighthouse at Niton, and in the 1891 Census the family appears twice; once in the normal returns living in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, but also the returns for Vessels, lighthouses being considered as such at that time.

A link with the Second World War can be found in St Catherine’s Lighthouse. On the 1st June 1943, the three keepers were engaged in storing bird perches in the boiler house when a Focke-Wulf Fw190 fighter bomber released its bomb on a tip and run sortie. A direct hit on the boiler room killed them outright, and all are buried in nearby St John’s Churchyard. They were Principal Keeper R.T. GRENFELL, and Assistant Keepers C. TOMPKINS and W.E. JONES.

In the remainder of this article I shall be concentrating on the Victorian wars and the Great War since space limits any further discussions of the Island in the Second World War.

Returning to the Victorian colonial wars, there are several Victoria Cross holders buried on the Island. In Ryde Cemetery, there are General Samuel BROWNE VC (of Sam Browne belt fame) who gained his award during the Indian Mutiny, and William Thomas RICKARD VC (also a Crimean veteran). At St Mary’s Churchyard in Brook, we find the grave of Colonel Henry GORE-BROWNE VC. Born in Ireland in 1830, Gore-Browne was awarded his VC for an action in Lucknow in India during the Mutiny, where he prevented enemy heavy guns from being used against British and loyal Indian troops, and it is supposed about 100 mutineers died in the process. Following the war he became the land agent for the Seely estates in the West Wight, marrying Jane Anne, the sister of Sir Charles Seely, in 1882. He died in 1912 after a long life serving his adopted County in a number of offices, most latterly as Deputy-Governor.

Just down the hill from Colonel Gore-Browne’s grave is a poignant memorial bearing a midshipman’s cap and sword in stone. Geoffrey GORE-BROWNE was the grandson of the Colonel, and died at just 15 years and 1 month old, in the sinking of HMS Aboukir. Over 60 officers and nearly 1000 men died in this incident, on 22nd September 1914. Gore-Browne had been Cadet Captain at Osborne Royal Naval College just months before his death. With no known grave other than the sea, he is commemorated at Chatham Naval Memorial.

The SEELY family figure largely in the history of the Island, and in their involvement with warfare. Colonel Gore-Browne’s nephew was J E B Seely, nicknamed “Galloper Jack” because of his role in the South African War. Captain Seely raised a force of over 40 men to become part of the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa. This body were formed almost exclusively of volunteers from the county militia regiments throughout the UK. Seely was engaged in a number of actions, where his horsemanship saw him allocated to communications duties – hence “Galloper”. While in South Africa he was elected MP for the Isle of Wight in his absence. His name appears at the head of the list of volunteers on the Ryde South African Memorial at the Town Hall. He continued his political and military career in parallel, and by the Great War he was Secretary of State for War in the Asquith government. However, a number of political setbacks caused him to be re-engaged as an Army staff officer and he embarked for France, having first dyed his grey horse “Warrior” brown to make him less conspicuous. During the war he had the misfortune of losing his son Frank (a Lieutenant in the Hampshire Regiment) in the battle of Arras on 13th September 1917. Three days later, his nephew Charles Seely died in action with many hundreds of fellow Isle of Wight Riflemen in Gaza, Palestine. Both are commemorated at St Mary’s Church in Brook.

The Duke of Connaught’s Own Hants Militia and Isle of Wight Royal Garrison Artillery were based at Sandown Barracks at the time of the South African Wars. A plaque in Christ Church, Broadway, Sandown, commemorates Major Charles Westrow HULSE and four Gunners from this unit who died in South Africa. Hulse was a career soldier, the son of a Baronet, who went to Oxford University and played one game of first class cricket for the MCC. He was killed in action at Braklaagte on 4th June 1901. Of the four artillerymen mentioned, three died of disease (probably enteric fever) which accounted for a substantial number of deaths in that campaign. Their names also appear on panels in Winchester Cathedral.

One aspect of the war which is not well known is that the Royal Army Medical Corps were strengthened by several hundred volunteers from the St John Ambulance Brigade, 12 of them coming from the Newport area, and their names are to be found on the Newport South African Memorial which is currently displayed in the Military Museum at Calbourne Mill.

A link between the South African War and the Great War is provided by Stanley Winther CAWS, who appears as Pte S W Caws on the Newport South African Memorial. He came from St Helens, and during the 1900’s emigrated to Alberta in Canada, where he was engaged in opening up trade with that province. In 1912 he joined the League of Frontiersmen, a body of men formed in anticipation of a possible war in Europe. He came back to England with the Canadian Forces on the outbreak of war, and within a year he had joined theRoyal Flying Corps. He was killed at a height of 11,000 feet in a dogfight. His Observer Flight-Lieutenant Nicholson managed to bring the aircraft safely to land. Caws was buried by the Germans with full military honours but his grave has subsequently been lost and he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial in France. Nicholson survived the war. Caws’ biography can be found in de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, an ambitious work commenced early in the war which attempted to list every one who died. The scale of the project became too great; after 5 volumes it was abandoned.

Returning to the ordinary solder and sailor, an example of the type of commemorative display of Great War medals, death plaque and a photo of the recipient can be seen at Calbourne Military Museum. Stoker 1st class Arthur DOWNER died on 31st May 1916 in the sinking of HMS Invincible. He was the son of Harry and Lucy Downer of Yafford.

Probably unrelated, Albert DOWNER was a bugler with the Isle of Wight Rifles who was killed in action during the Gallipoli campaign. Many of those who died have no known grave; he is buried in 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery alongside 640 others, half of whom are unidentified. The Isle of Wight Rifles, despite being a Territorial Force, served gallantly in many of the Great War campaigns, including Gallipoli, Egypt, Soudan and Gaza.

There are two memorials to the regiment – at the Drill Hall in Newport, and at Carisbrooke Castle. 36 Officers and 489 other ranks lost their lives in the Great War.

One of those killed was Captain Charles SEELY, the nephew of Jack Seely. He fell at Gaza on the 13th April 1917 and he is remembered in St Olave’s Church, Gatcombe by a sculpture of a box tomb which bears a recumbent marble likeness of the young officer.

One of the features of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission’s work is that a standard headstone may be erected on the grave of anyone who died while serving with the colours during the two world wars of the 20th Century. There are many examples in local churchyards and at Parkhurst Military Cemetery of those who died while on home service. At Ryde Cemetery, for example, we find the grave of Rifleman Arthur WOODNUTT of the Isle of Wight Rifles, who died of pneumonia one month after enlisting at the age of 42.

There are few women commemorated on Island Memorials from the Great War era. An unusual pair of inscriptions at Binstead War memorial hints at the war service of an elderly married couple. Lt-Cdr Henry GARTSIDE-TIPPING is reputed to have been the oldest naval officer killed in the war. At the age of 67 he was in command of HM Armed Yacht “Sanda” which was sunk while operating out of Dover. A motor boat was named in his memory in 1916 which also operated from Dover. His name is also found on the Nieupoort Memorial in Belgium. His wife, Mrs Mary GARTSIDE-TIPPING was some 18 years younger than her husband. She joined the Women’s Emergency Committee organisation and went to France to provide services such as canteens for the troops. She was killed by a deranged French soldier in 1917. As a result the French Government awarded her the Croix de Guerre and she was afforded a full military funeral.

I have mentioned a number of those killed or who served in the Great War, but of course, many who served did return. At the Military Vehicle Museum in Northwood is a plaque which records the Island Old Contemptibles and their dates of death from 1935 up to 1985 when Frederick William ATTRILL of Brading died at the age of 93. His service papers survive – there is correspondence from the Old Contemptibles Association, his attestation papers showing that he joined the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) as a Driver, and his Medal Index Card.

Coincidentally, another Frederick William ATTRILL, this time from Ryde, also joined the RFA. His Medal Index Card and service papers tell a different story, as he was posted to Bombay in India where he was promoted to be a Corporal Shoeing Smith. He died of enteric fever, a common cause of death in the tropics. Since he was not in a war zone, he was only entitled to the British War Medal.

This article is reproduced with acknowledgements to the Isle of Wight Family History Society.

Relax in the Isle of Wight

By Sean Revell

The Isle of Wight is a popular destination for many – and growing as a vacation destination. It is less than three miles from the South Coast of Britain and directly on the English Channel! The reason it is such a popular vacation destination being on the south coast of England makes the Isle of Wight even more popular as it is easy to get to – and there are many transit services that take visitors to the Isle.

Although there are only over a hundred thousand inhabitants on the island there are over a million visitors each year! This is an astounding amount of visitors on these small islands. The Isle runs on tourism and all workers in the industry strive to get things right and keep visitors coming back year, after year.

There are less than five hundred miles of roadway on the Isle of Wight. Efficient trains and small roadways link the small towns and communities together.

Not only are the beaches spectacular but the festivals that occur through the year are a wonderful way to experience the Isle of Wight culture. The food and drink festival at the end of the summer is a great way to immerse yourself in the Isle of Wight Culture. It is world renowned as the month of taste!

Interestingly enough, there are more than thirteen award winning beaches on the island. That is many to choose from. It’s a good thing that there are large assortments of beaches to house the millions of tourists that visit each and every year. The beaches are great destinations because they are inspected daily for safety and upkeep – not like many other beach destinations that are available to visit. From Colwell to Seagrove – each beach is bound to be just as perfect as the rest. From the beautiful seas to the seaside resorts, the Isle of Wight is perfect for your next holiday destination.

This article was written on behalf of Utopia Spa, Spa Breaks and Health Spa.


The Green future of the Isle of Wight

Thanks to a £6,500 grant to the Isle of Wight Council, residents of the island could find their homes and workplaces being heated by sustainable bio-fuels.

The generous grant from the South-East Woodland & Timber Fund is to be spent on making an evaluation on how much fuel the island can produce from their own woodlands. The type of fuel that they are looking to make is called Biomass which contains logs, pellets and wood chips. The benefits are its renewability and that its carbon neutral making it environmentally friendly.

If successful the council hope to show the islanders that Biomass is a better, cheaper and friendlier option than other fuels. Councilor Tim Hunter-Henderson believes the grant will prove beneficial as "The grant will enable us to increase the number of carbon neutral biomass boilers on the Island."

As well as making the assessment the council plan to hold an open day so that the local residents can see the various fuel types and how they work as well as the Biomass boilers. A training day will also be made available for owners of woodland.

The Isle of Wight is also being host to a series of Future Energy days. Based in Freshwater and Newport, people are given the opportunity to swap their old lightbulbs new money saving ones. It is believed that people who use these new bulbs will save at more than £5 a year on their electricity bills. The events are ran over the next few weeks between 11am and 4pm by the Isle of Wight age concern team.

This article was written on behalf of Garden Isle Holidays, Isle of Wight Holidays and Isle of Wight Accommodation.


Isle of Wight Tourism

by Martin Ager

The term Isle of Wight Tourism conjures up images of sunny beaches, dramatic coastlines and glorious countryside. Isle of Wight tourism brings in an estimated £350 million plus per year, which is vital to the Island’s economy. With more people visiting each year, that figure can only rise. The Isle of Wight is the perfect place for a holiday as there are so many things to see and do. Whatever your interests, you will be spoiled for choice and will find that one visit to this special place is never enough. Most people that visit this wonderful island find themselves coming back time and time again which is great for Isle of Wight tourism.

The Isle of Wight is the smallest of England’s counties, with the resident population being around 130,000. To the north lies the Solent and to the south is the English Channel. Known as "The Garden Isle", this jewel of England indeed resembles a diamond in shape, measuring 23 miles west to east and 13 miles north to south, an area or 147 square miles. The Island is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK, with around one million visitors each year. There is over 60 miles of coastline which ranges from award winning beaches to spectacular chalk cliffs. The Island, which is divided into two boroughs - Medina & South Wight, was known as “Vectis” by the Romans. Newport is the county town, although Ryde is the largest town. The exact centre of the Island is at Shide Corner, on the outskirts of Newport and the highest point is St. Boniface Down at Ventnor

Walking on the Isle of Wight is a popular past-time and there are over 500 miles of public footpaths including dramatic coastal paths. The climate here is almost sub-tropical and Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor are regularly at the top of the UK sunshine table. Over 50% of the Island has been designated an “Area of Outstanding Beauty” with about half of the coastline named as “Heritage Coast” - an honour only awarded to the finest stretches of coastline in the country. Red squirrels have a particular penchant for the surroundings (due to the lack of grey squirrels) and are widely prevalent on the Island - almost the final stronghold in the south of the country.

The most famous landmark here on the Isle of Wight is “The Needles” - three jagged chalk projections running out to sea at the extreme west of the island at Alum Bay, which is also renowned for its multi-coloured sand cliffs, which are caused by a mixture of minerals in the sand. There is a lighthouse here too, clinging to the base of the most westerly rock of the Needles group. It originally became popular here with tourists over 200 years ago when they used to visit by paddle steamer from the mainland. Another popular landmark is the Bembridge Windmill, the only existing windmill on the Island. It is located at the opposite end of the Island, was built around 1700 and still has its original machinery intact.

Isle of Wight tourist guide caters for all the tourist needs on the Isle of Wight. It is an extensive guide for all tourism and leisure activities. Martin Ager is the author, please see Or send an email to