The Isle of Wight Society

Isle of Wight Society and East Cowes Heritage



The Isle of Wight Society

The Society was formed in 1969 by concerned residents in response to poor planning decisions, unsympathetic architectural design and mediocre construction of new developments. One of the first activities was to fight the Government over proposals to site a nuclear power station on the Solent coastline. 

The Isle of Wight Society is an amenity and conservation organisation, registered with the Charity Commission, number 276986, and affiliated to the national organisation Civic Voice.

Our Constitution states that the Objects are: 

1. To stimulate public interest in the Isle of Wight.

2. To promote high standards of planning and architecture in or effecting the Isle of Wight.

3. To secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in the Isle of Wight.

The Society achieves the objectives by:

Writing articles for publications and a monthly column in the IOW County Press.

Holding an annual conservation award competition in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Submitting comments on building developments to the IOW Council Planning Department.

Supporting the East Cowes Heritage Centre and other organisations dealing with planning issues.

What makes this Island special?

The character of the Island is basically rural with enough undulations to provide vistas of the countryside, the surrounding sea and the busy sheltered water of the Solent. 

The mainstay of the Island is tourism and this is bolstered by marine and engineering industries, some agriculture, forestry and fishing. As a popular retirement destination the care of the elderly is also a factor in the economy.

The geology, from chalk cliffs to sheltered valleys, provides a variety of soils that support a wide selection of flora and fauna 

The people who have lived on the Island have left a rich heritage that supports the history of a developing community that has been industrious, involved with civil and international wars and produced some word leading engineering achievements. 

Nowhere else in Britain can boast of human history ranging from pre-Neolithic times through to the present day.

East Cowes Heritage Centre

The Isle of Wight Society operates from the Heritage Centre in Clarence Road, East Cowes. The centre is run by volunteers. It is an archive and exhibition space for artifacts and records of the town and the Island. Entry is free but opening times vary. See here.



An update from Ann Pembroke 

As a Life Member of the Isle of Wight Society, and receiving the Isle of Wight Society’s Conservation Award for works carried out at my home, Great Whitcombe Manor, in 1985, I wanted you both, and my fellow members, to know about my project.


The project is to provide accommodation in the Brew House, incorporating the Byre, to display and exhibit my four collections, for the benefit of education and tourism and to restore the Waggon Shed as a Lecture Hall, Shop and Cafe with public facilities.


To that end, I am building up a team of volunteers who love the Isle of Wight, with its heritage, and wish its culture and history to be recognised.   My award of the British Empire Medal from H.M. the Queen in the New Year Honours 2018, for my services to the Cultural History of the City of London, brings me to proffer my expertise and experience for the benefit of the Island.


Executive Committee Vacancies available for the committee.  If you are interested in joining the committee, please call Sarah on 296718 or email

Weekend 7th 8th July.

An exhibition at Barton Manor about the Romanovs and their connections with East Cowes.  We will be needing lots of voluntary stewards to help with manning the exhibition, helping with teas and coffees, etc.  Some priceless artefacts will be arriving from Russia and other collections.  Can you help us with this great event?  The East Cowes Heritage Centre will be profiting from the event as a quarter of the gate money will be coming to us.



The Design and Conservations Awards took place on May 18th at the Royal Yacht Squadron

A full listing of all the winners and entries will be updated here soon.


Isle of Wight Society Membership was due on 1st January, for those of you who are not life members , or have not renewed already in the last three months.  

We would be grateful if you could send cheques made out to “Isle of Wight Society” to East Cowes Heritage Centre, 8 Clarence Road, East Cowes, Isle of Wight PO32 6HT, 

or make a BACS payment on line quoting your name as reference, the IWS sort code is 30-95-99 and the account number is 00331217.

Membership is £12 for single members, Joint Full £20; Seniors £10 and Joint Seniors £18

Meetings are held at East Cowes Heritage Centre on the fourth Tuesday of the month and all are welcome.  

There are vacancies on our Executive Committee at present as one member has just retired and another has family health problems, so if you are interested in joining us with a more hands on approach on planning issues, let me know. 

IWS Conservation Awards for 2019.  Entries are being sought for these prestigious awards and should be entered by 14th February 2019.  Details and entry forms are on our Isle of Wight Society website so please have a look and if you have seen any restoration projects, or new builds in keeping with their surroundings please let the developers know so that they can enter.   Awards evening will be at the Royal Yacht Squadron Pavilion in May 2019. 

Looking forward to seeing you at some of our meetings or events, 

Kind Regards, Sarah Burdett BEM, Secretary to the Executive.

East Cowes Heritage celebrated their 25th anniversary on 7th October 2017 at East Cowes Town Hall.
Members of the public were able to see 56 display boards about East Cowes. These showed old maps, estate plans, sales documents, aerial views and many other large exhibits. The earliest dated from 1743, right up to aerial views of the town in the 1990s. The growth of the town immediately after WWII was shown by plans of the numerous estates built to replace houses bombed during the war and for the many extra skilled workers needed by the aircraft manufacturer Saunders Roe in the early 1950s.

This exhibition could not have been created 25 years ago as the material was dispersed throughout the community. By having an open door policy with free admission this encouraged residents to bring in material and information including some that otherwise would have been destroyed.
Initially the volunteers at the Heritage Centre thought that the town’s history would be collected within two years. 25 years later they are still learning about our rich and fascinating past. Their experience has shown that every community needs a depository – somewhere where historic material can be collected and hopefully represented to its community.
Dr Ruth Waller gave an excellent talk about the archaeology of East Cowes, amazing the audience with the details of what has been found in the town even from our Mesolithic past. East Cowes was at the forefront of technology even then!

Over the last 25 years, over 63,000 people have visited the East Cowes Heritage Centre. The extensive collection of reference files available for research covers all aspects of East Cowes, from shops to sports clubs, streets to submarines, aircraft manufacture to farming and everything in
Currently Godwins’ old shop in Ferry Road is undergoing restoration and a poster advertising jeans in the 1960s from the wall was given to the Heritage Centre last week by the new owners, who also found adverts for the shop stuck to the walls.

Books on local East Cowes history are on sale at East Cowes Heritage Centre. These have been sent all over the world to friends, relatives, and past residents of the town. From this, even more material has been received at the Centre.
New stewards are always welcome to help, and the friendly bunch of volunteers finds there is always plenty to do. The Centre is open from 10a.m. until 1p.m. daily except Sundays, and until 4p.m. on Wednesdays.
The new temporary exhibition looks at the changes that have taken place in East Cowes over the last 25 years. Entry is free.
East Cowes Heritage hopes that it will be going strong for another 25 years. Historians then will be pleased to find how much has already been done to record the history of the town.

Current concerns

The Island Council is permitting housing development in line with Government targets, it also has a PFI contract for the maintenance of the roads. The Island has fairly comprehensive medical services with strong links to Southampton and Portsmouth hospitals.

Floating Bridge issues.

Housing developments, devolution of services and infrastructure support feature greatly in the present political climate. The Society, along with other bodies, are monitoring the issues and are voicing their concerns.

The developments in and of East Cowes in conjunction with Red Funnel Ferries.

Major planning developments for the 1. The Red Funnel Terminal and 2. Victoria Quays in West Cowes are also under consideration.

The Red Funnel plans have been passed on appeal. For further details go to IOW Council planning web page. Ref: TCP/31812/B and TCP/32737

The East Cowes group of the Isle of Wight Society are concerned at the height of the landmark tower apartment blocks proposed next to the Barracks on the seafront and have written objections.

Come and join us

Isle of Wight Society
East Cowes Heritage Centre, 8 Clarence Road
East Cowes, PO32 6EP

Tel: +44 (0) 1983 280310

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