Cowes Heritage, a voluntary group dedicated to recording and exhibiting the history of the town, are currently hosting their 13th exhibition based in Regatta House, Bath Road.
Entitled ‘A Decade of Change-1910-1920’ it is open every day to the public between 10:00 and 16:00 with free entry.
This latest exhibition, put together and researched by members and friends, runs until 31st October. Although the decade saw World War One the displays purposely cover many other topics than just the Great War.
At a preview reception Vice Chairman George Chastney paid tribute to all the people who had made the show possible. He revealed that the Heritage Lottery Fund had given the group a grant to make a DVD highlighting the impact on Cowes of the War. Local schools would receive a free copy.
George welcomed the guest opener Gareth Sprack. An expert on the IW Rifles, he had given a fascinating talk on the subject at the Cowes Heritage AGM earlier in the year. Gareth said he was a Cowes resident for ten years, living at Binny Hill aka the top of St. Mary’s Road. He said how one realised at a certain age that things from your youth are suddenly history.
In the exhibition, sponsored by Cowes Town Waterfront Trust, it details how Cowes Week scheduled for August 1914 was cancelled due to WW1. News of the impending war came too late for the RYS to cancel the printing of the race programme, however.
Following the death of King Edward VII on 6th May 1910 the focus turned to the Coronation of King George V on 22nd June 1911. Princess Beatrice, Governor of the Island had 18,000 commemorative medals struck for Island schoolchildren. Two days after the Coronation there was a Review of the Fleet off Spithead. There are also details of Coronation celebrations in Cowes, Gurnard and Northwood.
A timeline of the decade highlights interesting events in the area, starting with Captain Scott’s visit in 1910. In 1912 Tommy Sopwith started experimental flights of a seaplane whilst at Holy Trinity Church a memorial service for those lost on the Titanic was held.
King George V’s uncle the Duke of Argyll died at his Island home in 1914 and in the same year Northwood House became a military hospital. During the decade Northwood House had two changes of ownership with most of the farm and other parts of the estate being sold off in 1919.
Although many of the exhibits on display belong to Cowes Heritage or are in the private collections of their members Carisbrooke Castle Museum have loaned a number of interesting items including an array of children’s toys.
Special thanks must go to the Chairman of Cowes Heritage John Groves and his wife Maureen as well as other members for arranging such an excellent exhibition on Cowes history.
Report and photograph thanks to Alan and Suzanne Whitewood