Thanks to help from a range of volunteers and organisations chipping in time and expertise, Celebrating Sandown made a weekend of this national event, with opportunities for new views on the past, present and even future of some of Sandown Bay’s most familiar or forgotten streets, buildings and landscapes.
Vectis Housing Association’s community project Wild About Wight chose Sandown’s Carnegie Library for its home-base for heritage walks and art workshop. County archivist and historian Richard Smout led a whole day of walks showing visitors how to interpret architectural fashion and purpose, from use of decorative bricks to church design, from the early Victorian hotels and High Street, to Art Deco and modern day.
Meanwhile, upstairs at the library became a pop-up Wild About Wight art studio with artist Ian Whitmore teaching the tradition of sand painting, Marmotinto. The resulting sand art scenes inspired by Sandown Bay will join the collection Wild About Wight art exhibition at Quay Arts next spring.
Other activities included exploring Sandown Barrack Battery and meeting the National Poo Museum, discovering the history of the 1930s Browns Golf Course and the PLUTO pipeline story, and meeting the Men in Sheds spear-heading the Pavilion machinery restoration.
At the Yaverland end of the Bay, visitors could explore Browns in black and white or meet Men In Sheds in a Pavilion. Early photos of the golf course’s first days and its life as an Ice Cream factory were loaned from London to Browns Café especially for the weekend by the attraction’s founders, the Kennedy family. At the end of the Willow Walk nature trail, Age UK’s Men In Sheds hosted over 100 people throughout the weekend at the Pavilion. The Pavilion’s machinery is being restored thanks to the collective expertise of Men In Sheds with the help of The Common Space and Down to the Coast.
Sunday saw Sandown Battery Barracks busy too with around 80 people visiting the cliff-top fort in glorious sunshine. Conservation officers from both the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Councils, Lee Byrne and Ben Cracknell reimagined the views from the Battery across the Bay to the AONB at Culver with tales of Napoleon and naval warfare, while the National Poo Museum inventor Dan Roberts was on hand to talk about future plans and meanwhile uses.
Volunteers and partners from The Common Space and the Bay Coastal Community Team; Shaping The Bay; Vectis Housing Association; Down to the Coast; Isle of Wight Men In Sheds and Age UK; Quay Arts; the Isle of Wight Council Conservation Team; Arc; Browns Family Golf and Cafe; Sandown Library and the Kennedy family all contributed in some shape or form.