East Cowes

East Cowes is a town and civil parish[4] to the north of the Isle of Wight, on the east bank of the River Medina next to its neighbour on the west bank, Cowes.

The two towns are connected by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry operated by the Isle of Wight Council.

East Cowes is the site of Norris Castle, and Osborne House, the former summer residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Prince had a major influence on the architecture of the area, for example on the building of St Mildred's Church in nearby Whippingham, which features distinctive turrets imitating those found on a German castle.

East Cowes

East Cowes seafront, showing the Columbine Yard building with its Union Flag doors.
East Cowes is located in Isle of Wight
East Cowes
East Cowes
Location within the Isle of Wight
Area5.0924 km2 (1.9662 sq mi) [1]
Population7,010 [2]
• Density1,377/km2 (3,570/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSZ493958
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtPO32
FireIsle of Wight
AmbulanceIsle of Wight
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament
East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK
East Cowes town centre
Esplanade, East Cowes, IW, UK
The Esplanade


The name Estcowe (East Cowes) originally comes from one of two sandbanks each side of the River Medina estuary, so called after a supposed likeness to cows. The name was subsequently transferred to fortifications built during the reign of Henry VIII on the east bank (East Cowes Castle) to dispel a French invasion, referred to as cowforts or cowes, which subsequently gave the name to the town. The naming of Cowes was done in a similar fashion. They replaced the earlier name of Shamblord.

The settlement of Shamblord at East Cowes was first recorded in 1303. It grew as East Shamblord, and became a much more significant settlement than the Western Shamblord. As the Isle of Wight was the target of frequent French invasions, with some notable incursions, the fort built at East Cowes was later destroyed and should not be confused with the "East Cowes Castle" built subsequently by John Nash.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, who made her summer home at Osborne by acquiring and rebuilding Osborne House, East Cowes was the subject of planned estate of grand houses, groves and parks. The scheme, not finding the finances it needed, was folded, but a few residences built in the early stages still survive to this day such as the former Albert Grove residences of Kent House and Powys House on York Avenue.

In East Cowes Norris Castle was designed in the Norman style by James Wyatt in the late eighteenth century. The building survives and today remains a private home. In 1798, the architect John Nash, began building his home, East Cowes Castle, where he later entertained the Prince Consort and other prominent guests. East Cowes Castle was notable for its Gothic towers and turrets, and elaborate castellation. Nash died in 1835 and is buried in the tower of St James' Church which he also designed. East Cowes Castle was severely damaged by bombing in World War II It was demolished during the 1960s, although the ice house remains and is visible in Sylvan Avenue. Cowes and East Cowes became a single urban district in 1933.

During World War II, both Cowes and East Cowes became the targets of frequent bombing due to its industry and proximity to Southampton and the Royal Navy's home at Portsmouth. The shipyard of J. Samuel White was badly damaged by air attack in early May 1942 but, when rebuilt, innovative ship construction methods had been introduced. The first warship completed by the renewed yard was HMS Cavalier. During the air raid, the local defences had been fortuitously augmented by the Polish destroyer Blyskawica (itself built by White's), which put up such a determined defence that, in 2002, the crew's courage was honoured by a local commemoration lasting several days to mark the 60th anniversary of the event. Later in 2004, and over to the west, an area of Cowes was named Francki Place in honour of the ship's commander.[5]

To celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Queen's coronation in 1977, the main hangar doors of what was then the British Hovercraft Corporation (a successor to Saunders Roe) were painted with the world's largest image of the Union Flag, which can still be seen today.[6]

In January 2015, the car carrier MV Hoegh Osaka bound for Bremerhaven, Germany, ran aground on Bramble Bank after developing a heavy list, roughly five miles north of the entrance to the River Medina. It has since been re-floated, repaired, and returned to service.


Car ferry, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK
Red Funnel car ferry Red Falcon at East Cowes ferry terminal

East Cowes is linked to the mainland by Red Funnel’s vehicle ferry service. The Cowes Floating Bridge links East Cowes with Cowes throughout the day. It is a chain ferry, and is one of the few remaining not to be replaced by a physical bridge.

Southern Vectis operate bus route 4 linking the town with Ryde and bus routes route 5 and 25 linking the town with Newport including intermediate villages.[7]

The Isle of Wight Coastal Path runs through East Cowes.[8]


Saro Princess G-ALUN Cowes 1954
Saunders Roe East Cowes works in 1954 with Princess flying-boat

Local industry in both Cowes and East Cowes has always centred on the building and design of marine craft and materials associated with boatmaking, including the early flying boats, and sailmaking.

East Cowes was also once home to the aircraft manufacturer Saunders Roe, who built the large, advanced, flying boat The Saunders-Roe Princess, as well as the Black Knight rocket and the Black Arrow satellite carrier rocket. They also developed and tested the first hovercraft, the SR.N1.

The former Saunders-Roe factory at Venture Quays now produces wind turbines, which can be seen laid on the quay for shipping out. Due to local objections no wind turbines have been allowed to be erected on the Isle of Wight.

Sport and leisure

Beach, East Cowes, IW, UK
The beach at East Cowes

East Cowes has a Non-League football club East Cowes Victoria Athletic A.F.C., which plays at Beatrice Avenue. They are also home to FC Bayern Bru who play in the islands Leisure Leagues 6-a-side league at Beatrice Avenue. They won the league title in their inaugural season in the winter of 2013.

Famous residents

Redevelopment Project

East Cowes Waitrose Nearly Finished
The progress of the new East Cowes Waitrose store, which is now open.

The East Cowes Redevelopment Project was set up by SEEDA for the flagship project for the Cowes Waterfront Initiate, which includes redeveloping the town centre of East Cowes. It was intended that such changes would create better employment opportunities and a better environment for residents and visitors alike, providing a unique opportunity to improve East Cowes and create better investment for businesses.

On 6 April 2010, work started on the new Waitrose store on Well Road on the old site of the hovercraft development building. Recruitment for jobs for the new Waitrose Store started during August/September 2010; there were 160 jobs available throughout the store and over 800 people applied.

Part of the redevelopment also included the building of more houses known as "Victoria Walk" and David Wilson[9] was chosen to be the builder. Advertising boards were placed on Old Road in East Cowes with building work commencing soon after.

In 2013, work began to create a new 300 berth marina inside a new breakwater. The plan included a new hotel, restaurant and 100 new homes.

During August 2012, a new Medical Centre opened at Church Path, near Waitrose. The former Medical Centre at Down House (the former home of respected local GP Dr Down), on York Avenue, was closed.[10]


During December 2010, under a cost cutting plan by the Isle of Wight Council it was decided most local libraries across the Island would close in March 2011, with just Newport and Ryde remaining open. Sandown, Cowes, Ventnor & Freshwater remained opened until March 2012, during which time community groups were sought to continue the upkeep and running of the libraries.

East Cowes was among one of the libraries set to close in March 2011, but was saved by East Cowes Town Council who appealed for volunteers to continue running the library. It remains at the town centre premises near to the Co-op supermarket, with an outlook to move to newer premises in the near future. Whilst under the Isle of Wight Council ownership it opened around 30 hours a week; this was reduced to around 12 hours per week.

See also


  1. ^ Office of National Statistics: QS102EW - Population density retrieved 30 May 2017
  2. ^ "Area: East Cowes (parish) - Usual Resident Population, 2011 (KS101EW)". Office of National Statistics. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  3. ^ http://www.eastcowestowncouncil.co.uk/EastCowes-TC/The_Council_6420.aspx
  4. ^ "English Parishes & Welsh Communities N&C 2004". www.statistics.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 9 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
  5. ^ "Special celebration of ship that saved Cowes". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  6. ^ "BBC H2G2 - East Cowes, Isle of Wight". BBC. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Southern Vectis bus routes". www.islandbuses.info. Archived from the original on 30 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
  8. ^ "About Britain - Isle of Wight Coastal Path". www.aboutbritain.com. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
  9. ^ David Wilson Homes. "David Wilson Homes". David Wilson Homes. David WIison Homes. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  10. ^ Island Pulse: New medical centre to open in East Cowes Archived 20 April 2013 at Archive.today

External links

1999–2000 Wessex Football League

The 1999–2000 Wessex Football League was the 14th season of the Wessex Football League. The league champions for the third time in their history were Wimborne Town, who won the title on goal difference. There was no promotion to the Southern League, but East Cowes Victoria Athletic finished bottom and were relegated.For sponsorship reasons, the league was known as the Jewson Wessex League.

British Hovercraft Corporation

British Hovercraft Corporation was the corporate entity created when the Saunders-Roe division of Westland Aircraft and Vickers Supermarine combined March 1966 with the intention of creating viable commercial hovercraft. Westland Aircraft held 65% of the shares, Vickers 25% and the National Research Development Corporation 10%.

None of the Vickers designs were 'taken forward', the existing production of the Saunders-Roe designs continued (SR.N5 Warden class and SR.N6 Winchester class) and the Saunders-Roe designed SR.N4 (Mountbatten class), was completed and entered service on the English Channel.

Only one new design was produced (1969) by the British Hovercraft Corporation, the BH.7 (Wellington class).

In 1970, Westland Aircraft acquired the shares of the other parties. In 1971 Cushioncraft was acquired from Britten-Norman. In 1984, the company was renamed Westland Aerospace – hovercraft design/manufacture had effectively ceased and the company was involved with the manufacture of composites for the aerospace industry.

The British Hovercraft Corporation was responsible for the largest Union Flag in the world. It was painted on the doors of their hangar on the seafront at East Cowes in 1977 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II.


Cowes () is an English seaport town and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. Cowes is located on the west bank of the estuary of the River Medina, facing the smaller town of East Cowes on the east bank. The two towns are linked by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry.

The population was 9,663 in the 2001 census, which doubles during the regatta in early August. The population at the 2011 census was 10,405.

Charles Godfrey Leland's 19th century verses describe the towns poetically as "The two great Cowes that in loud thunder roar/This on the eastern, that the western shore".

Cowes has been seen as a home for international yacht racing since the founding of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1815. It gives its name to the world's oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, which occurs annually in the first week of August. Later, powerboat races are held.

Much of the town's architecture is still heavily influenced by the style of ornate building that Prince Albert popularised.

Cowes Floating Bridge

The Cowes Floating Bridge is a vehicular chain ferry which crosses the River Medina on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. The ferry crosses the tidal river from East Cowes to Cowes. The first floating bridge between the two towns was established in 1859 and the crossing is one of the few remaining that has not been replaced by a physical bridge. The service is owned and operated by the Isle of Wight Council, which has run it since 1901. Prior to ownership by the local authority the service was run by The Floating Bridge Company and The Steam Packet Company (Red Funnel). The ferry currently used is named No. 6, the sixth to be owned by the Isle of Wight Council, and ninth in total. It was built in 2017 and can carry up to 20 cars. The Cowes floating bridge remains the only way to cross the River Medina between the towns without taking a ten-mile trip via Newport. The current vessel was installed on 14 May 2017, but after a string of technical issues the service was suspended by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and a passenger-only replacement service provided by a small launch. After several months of service suspension and intermittent operation, full service finally resumed early in 2018.

East Cowes Castle

East Cowes Castle, located in East Cowes, was the home of architect John Nash between its completion and his death in 1835. Nash himself was the designer of the site, and began construction as early as 1798. It was completed in 1800 and was said to have been built at unlimited expense. Nash was finally interred in the grounds.

The structure gained renown for its complex castellation, its gothic-style turrets and towers, which were built in the style of the period of Edward VI, and for the notable individuals who came to be Nash's guests there, including the Prince Regent, who went on to become King George IV and J.M.W. Turner, who painted a picture of the location.

On Nash's death, the estate was sold to the Earl of Shannon who added a lodge at the south of the estate. It was then briefly held by the politician, George Tudor, before being acquired by the Viscount Gort family, who held it until 1934.

The castle was requisitioned by the War Office during the Second World War, under whose use the condition of the building suffered greatly; and due to subsequent neglect and deterioration, the castle was finally demolished in 1963. The castle's gatehouse, North Lodge and an original icehouse survive and the castle's clock remains on display at the Carisbrooke Castle Museum.

Over the next thirty years, housing developments were built over the estate. The estate used to cover the area now bordered by Old Road, New Barn Road, York Avenue and Castle Street.Although East Cowes Castle no longer exists, there is an exact copy of the original castle called Lough Cooter Castle, near Gort, County Galway. For the circumstances concerning its creation, see the paragraph below.

East Cowes Victoria Athletic A.F.C.

East Cowes Victoria Athletic Association Football Club is a football club based in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, England They are currently members of the Wessex League Division One and play at Beatrice Avenue.

Isle of Wight Coastal Path

The Isle of Wight Coastal Path (or Coastal Footpath) is a circular long-distance footpath of 70 miles (113 km) around the Isle of Wight, UK. It follows public footpaths and minor lanes, with some sections along roads.

Isle of Wight Senior Cup

The Senior Gold Cup is the current county cup for the Isle of Wight. It is administered by the Isle of Wight Divisional Football Association (IOWDFA). According to the current rules of the competition, it is open to only island clubs and, where applicable, their reserve teams. The current holders are Cowes Sports who play in the Wessex League Premier Division.

J. Samuel White

J. Samuel White was a British shipbuilding firm based in East Cowes, taking its name from John Samuel White (1838–1915).

It came to prominence during the Victorian era. During the 20th century it specialised in building destroyers for both the Royal Navy and export customers.

King's Quay, Isle of Wight

King's Quay is a place on the north east coast of the Isle of Wight, an island off the South Coast of England. It comprises the estuary of a stream called Palmer's Brook, situated between East Cowes and Wootton Creek, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north west of Wootton. It is said, probably apocryphally, to have been the place that King John fled to after signing Magna Carta, from which it derives its name.

It is private land, part of the 500-acre (2.0 km2) Barton Estate, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar site. It is rich in fossils, particularly of oligocene fish and mesolithic artifacts in a rocky outcrop known as the Osborne Beds.

It comprises an area of saltmarsh, sand and marsh, bounded by ancient woodlands at Wallhill Copse, Curlew Copse, Woodhouse Copse and Brickhill Copse.

The Quay is a causeway which is breached in one place leading to a stone bridge.

During the Middle Ages, King's Quay and the adjoining Meads Hole to the north in Osborne Bay was the site of a market of stolen goods, the plunder of Isle of Wight pirates upon French and Spanish shipping.

It is inaccessible to the public, but can be approached from the south western end by Forestry Commission land at Woodhouse Copse.

List of electoral wards in Isle of Wight

This is a list of electoral divisions and wards in the ceremonial county of Isle of Wight in South East England. All changes since the re-organisation of local government following the passing of the Local Government Act 1972 are shown. The number of councillors elected for each electoral division or ward is shown in brackets.

List of places on the Isle of Wight

This is a list of towns and villages in the county of Isle of Wight, England.

Nick Holmes (footballer)

Nicholas Charles Holmes (born 11 November 1954) is an English former professional footballer. He won the FA Cup Final with Southampton in 1976 and, from July 2002 to July 2009, was manager of Salisbury City.

Osborne House

Osborne House is a former royal residence in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat. Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. The builder was Thomas Cubitt, the London architect and builder whose company built the main facade of Buckingham Palace for the royal couple in 1847. An earlier smaller house on the site was demolished to make way for a new and far larger house, though the original entrance portico survives as the main gateway to the walled garden.

Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in January 1901. Following her death, the house became surplus to royal requirements and was given to the state, with a few rooms being retained as a private museum to Queen Victoria. From 1903 until 1921 it was used as a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy, known as the Royal Naval College, Osborne. In 1998 training programmes consolidated at the Britannia Royal Naval College, now at Dartmouth, thus vacating Osborne House. The House is now open to the public for tours.

PO postcode area

The PO postcode area, also known as the Portsmouth postcode area, is a group of 34 postcode districts in southern England, which are subdivisions of 24 post towns. These postcode districts cover southeast Hampshire (including Portsmouth, Southsea, Havant, Waterlooville, Lee-on-the-Solent, Gosport, Fareham, Rowland's Castle, Emsworth and Hayling Island) southwestern West Sussex (including Chichester and Bognor Regis) and the Isle of Wight (including Newport, Cowes, East Cowes, Ryde, Yarmouth, Shanklin, Ventnor, Seaview, Bembridge, Totland Bay, Sandown and Freshwater).

Red Funnel

Red Funnel, formally the Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, is a ferry company that carries passengers, vehicles and freight on routes between the English mainland and the Isle of Wight. High-speed foot passenger catamarans, known as Red Jets, run between Southampton and Cowes, while vehicle ferries run between Southampton and East Cowes.

Red Funnel's main competitor is Wightlink whose services operate from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and Ryde, and from Lymington to Yarmouth. The other major Solent ferry company, Hovertravel, operates between Southsea and Ryde. Both provide a frequent service to the Isle of Wight, but neither normally serve Southampton, Cowes or East Cowes.


Saunders-Roe Limited, also known as Saro, was a British aero- and marine-engineering company based at Columbine Works, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.

St James's Church, East Cowes

St James's Church, East Cowes is the Church of England parish church of East Cowes, Isle of Wight.


Whippingham is a village and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. The population of the Civil Parish at the 2011 Census was 787. It is located 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) south of East Cowes in the north of the Island.Whippingham is best known for its connections with Queen Victoria, especially St Mildred's Church, redesigned by Prince Albert. The village became the centre of the royal estate supporting Osborne House and Barton Manor. The farms, school, almshouses, forge and cottages were rebuilt when they became part of the Queen's estate and Prince Albert had a 'model farm' built at Barton. Queen Victoria took a close interest in 'her people' in Whippingham, providing for them in sickness and in health. It is also the home to The Folly Inn.

Unitary authorities
Major settlements
Settlements on the Isle of Wight
Civil parishes
Other villages
and hamlets
See also


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