Let’s face it, we all love the Island for some reason or another this is why we all choose to live here. However, the Island holds some secrets and oddities and has been home to some dubious characters over the years.
Going back to 1635 the famous scientist, philosopher, inventor and astronomer Robert Hooke was born in Freshwater, there is now a road that bears his name, Hooke Hill. One of Hookes achievements was he coined the term ‘cell’ to describe the basic unit of life. A permanent exhibition can be viewed at the Isle of Wight Planetarium at Fort Victoria.
Like all places, the Isle of Wight has also had its fair share of famous celebrities take up residence over the years including Anthony Minghella (Film Director), Mark King (Level 42), Jeremy Irons, Bear Grylls the adventurer, Uffa Fox, and Sheila Hancock.
Sir Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, John Keats, Karl Marx, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron and of course Queen Victoria spent many happy times on the Isle of Wight.
Because of the Island’s location it has always been a prime location for prisons. Up until recently the Island held category A prisoners, however over the years we have seen the likes of the Kray twins, Richardson Brothers, and more recently Paul Gad (Gary Glitter). The most famous prisoner was of course Charles I who was held at Carisbrooke Castle between 1647-1648 before heading to London to face his executioner.
The Island has had its fair share of inventors over the years, including Sir Christopher Cockerell who invented the Hovercraft (1956). The Isle of Wight was the first to produce the electric car. Back in 1969 a hundred of them were produced on the Island. The Enfield 8000 (not the most dynamic name) was built and produced in Cowes until the company disbanded due to building pressures from oil companies.
Recently the Island was named the Dinosaur capital of the UK, we seemed to have the perfect environment.
The Island is steeped in history, Osborne House being the much-loved home of Queen Victoria, she resided at Osbourne until her death in 1901, Osborne was given to the nation in 1902 by the then new King.
Carisbrooke Castle dates back to 1100 and still remains the most famous site on the Island. King Charles was imprisoned in the castle. Princess Beatrice (Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter) used Carisbrooke Castle as a holiday home up until 1944. Quarr Abbey is another famous attraction which was built as a Cistercian Monastery in 1132.
The Island also played its part during World War II. PLUTO was a pipeline which was laid from the mainland via Southampton, across the Solent to Thorness Bay and then across the Island to pumping stations at Sandown and Shanklin. The pump houses were concealed in the bomb-scarred buildings which then ran the fuel to France.
We must not forget the sailing links; the Island is home to round-the-world yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur and not forgetting Olympic Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson and Sir Ben Ainslie who make frequent trips to the Island. The first Cowes Regatta was held in 1812 where it went on to attain international status.
In more recent times one of the biggest music festivals was held in 1970 when an estimated 600,000 fans descended upon the Island to watch Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and The Who. At the time, the population of the Island was approx. 100,000. The Islands infrastructure struggled to get them all back off the Island, it took several weeks.
For a real spooky end, the Isle of Wight is said to be the most haunted Island in the World and has earned the name ‘Ghost Island’. We have powerful ‘ley lines’ running under the Island, which attracts thousands of ghost hunters from around the world.