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East Cowes: Home of Shipbuilders and Royalty

With a population of just 7,000 people, East Cowes on the Isle of Wight is a small town with a big history. Home to Osborne House, the summer palace of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the C19th; and a place where innovative ship-builders from London came to experiment with speed on the waters of the Solent.

There’s no better way of getting under the skin of a place and its history than taking a walk on its streets and a look at its museum collections. Treasured artefacts, photographs, letters and other survivors from the past all generously donated by local people with personal stories to share. The fragments of wallpaper once carefully designed by the Victorian architect, John Nash, picked up from the ruins of East Cowes Castle just before its demolition by someone passing by; the model of a Princess flying boat made by a young apprentice at Saunders Roe; a piece of shrapnel from an armour-piercing bomb dropped on the ship-building yards and killing several civilians during WW2.

The Earth Museum has been delighted to work with East Cowes Heritage Centre on mapping their wonderful local history collections, and thoroughly recommend a visit to the Centre whenever you find yourself in East Cowes. All of the team who work there are dedicated volunteers who love their heritage, and the idea that stories are handed on and new connections made. Particular thanks to Sarah Burdett for all her work with us on developing the map. Enjoy!

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