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The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is separated from the south coast of England by the Solent.
Ferries link the island with Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth.
Records in the late 1990s show a population of 128,000. Early history records the ‘Beaker’ people, or makers of pottery from around 2000BC followed by Iron Age tribes before the arrival of the Romans in 43AD. Rule of the island fell to the Saxons in the 6th century and then in succession to Mercian, Danish and Norman Kings.
Since 1290 when Edward I of England took possession, succeeding Sovereigns have ruled through the appointment of Lordships, Captains and more recently Governors. In the 1800s Queen Victoria brought world recognition by spending a great deal of her time at Osborne House with her family thus moving world attention from London to Cowes.
Arable land, temperate climate, sandy beaches and inexpensive rates and building land have combined to encourage the development of a mixed economy of agriculture, tourism and light industry to be at the forefront of island economy. For tourists, the island offers areas of natural beauty and many places of interest both old from castles and manor houses, to new, country parks, vineyards and theme parks. The island is recognised as the best place in Europe for finding fossilised dinosaur remains.
Shipbuilding has been an island strength for centuries. Light engineering allied to shipbuilding has spread to include electrical goods and larger projects include the famous ‘Islander’ aircraft made at Bembridge and British Hovercraft/Westland Aerospace and Seimans/Plessey all go from strength to strength at Cowes.
The increase in sports participation has brought higher standards and a will to promote major events. Whereas only sailing carried the International Banner, European and World Championships in surfing and windsurfing have now been held. The Schneider Air Trophy Race and an Offshore Power Boat Race are now annual events.
At national level the island has hosted the All England Netball Championships, Cross Country, Junior Soccer and Trampoline Championships.
last updated: 22/06/07