Island Echo always welcome letters to the editor, which may of course not reflect the views of the publication and its staff.
‘The Island has so much to offer the visitor’ – this is a comment I hear when I act as steward at both art and heritage society exhibitions. I find visitors are amazed at the art, engineering and technical involvement the Island has had and still has with the outside world.
The Island has concentrated on the young and does a very good job by showing the Island’s history, the entertainment that is available along with the beaches and camping sites etc. The ‘Attraction Map’ has been very successful in bringing people from outside the Island to the extent that the Island is known for its beaches, caravans and ice cream.
This means that all the other interesting developments and activities, of which the island has many, are neglected and only the odd heritage society and small museums continue to show their local history.
A good example is the PLUTO equipment used on D Day. Currently work is going on to renovate many of the generators, pumps and other artefacts used on that day. Talking with the team down at Sandown, who are doing the renovation, their concern is how do we display the equipment and encourage people in to see it.
Another is the Islander aircraft developed and manufactured on the island, sold worldwide. A visitor I was chatting to thought it was made in Ireland!
The commercialisation of the hovercraft and the many adaptations of the system were developed and manufactured on the island in Bembridge, with the larger cross channel machines made in Cowes.
The various heritage centres and tiny museums would not want to lose their exhibits which they use to draw visitor through their doors, after all they know the history and stories behind their exhibits and do a very good job telling their visitors about them.
Visitors look upon small museums and heritage centres as dealing with local village life, where as on the Island their exhibits will incorporate the whole Island.
Many of the people in the above businesses that I have chatted to feel as I do that the island should have a visitors map titled perhaps ‘The Islands Engineering and Technical Developments’, this title sounds a bit heavy but to the older visitor and those with a particular interests it could be something to base an holiday on.
The map should have headings for the various areas of island involment and take the visitor on a guided tour of the heritage societies and museums etc. that hold those interests, let the visitor do the leg work and keep the exhibits where they are.
With the map, which can be distributed to the mainland etc. visitors will know what there is on the island and that we are not just ice cream, beaches and caravans. At present visitor only find out about the island’s involvement when they happen to pick up the odd pamphlet, but they must come to the island first to do that.
We must stop visitors making comments like “there is a high quality of painting and range of subjects on the island, I thought this only exists in places like Cornwall”.
If we incorporate the above into our advertising, we will encourage the older visitors as well as the young families. The older visitor have more money, they will want to stay in hotels, they will enjoy the interest given by 20th and 21st century inventions, developments, manufacturing art etc that have been and are proceeding with on in the island.
This will expand and make the Island a much more interesting to the older visitor as well.
Derek Bean, Bembridge