The Isle of Wight 150 years ago.

Extracts from the Hampshire Telegraph.

August 1860

4 August 1860

Review of the Isle of Wight Volunteers on Messley Down. (From our own Reporter.)

A general review of the Isle of Wight Volunteers took place on Messley Down on Thursday evening last, at six o'clock, by Lieut.-Col. C. Dunsmore, the comanding officer of the several Isle of Wight Corps. It was generally expected that Majesty would review the troops on the occasion, but; much to the disappointment of the many thousands who were assembled, such was not the case.

At Ryde business generally was suspended from three o'clock, agreeable to a requisition addressed to Mr.Thurlow by upwards of 100 of the principal tradesmen of the place. The corps of this town met to the number of about 100, and, under the command of Captain Sir Charles Lees, fell in opposite the Town-hall, and preceded by way of Union-Street, High-street, passing the Infirmary, and keeping the main road as far as Swanmore, where a sudden divergences was made through narrow lanes, copses, and some of the romantic low lands for which the Isle of Wight is so famous. A beautiful scene broke forth on passing “Rawkin’s Farm,” the broad waters of the Solent opening suddenly to the view, with the schooner yachts sailing for Her Majesty's Cup, and accompanied by a whole fleet of other craft.

The march to the Downs was completed in something less than two hours, and the Volunteers at once proceeded to take up their proper position is on that part of Messley Down which faces Ashey. Messley is situated opposite and to the west of Ashley, and is apparently about the same height - 424 feet above the sea. From it a most splendid view of the western, southern, and eastern portions of the “Garden of England,” the Solent, and in the sea to the eastwards is obtained, while not far from its base are many of the little spots rich in historical and domestic associations. On this spot, with such a panorama of scenery as could not be surpassed in the whole island, the Volunteers were assembled. A dense mass of carriages encircled three sides of a square of ground some four or five hundred feet square, the vehicles being two, and in some places three or four deep. It would be idle to attempt to give an approximate idea of the number of visitors present, but certainly we should say there could not, when the review commenced, be less than 10,000 or 15,000.

The following was the effective strength of the several divisions on the ground, exclusive of officers, and non-commissioned officers, and bands:- Ryde, 62; Newport, 62; Cowes, 50; Nunwell, 40; Sandown, 36; Ventnor, 36. - Total, 288. The several divisions, having been equalised into six companies of 48 each, were marched to their respective covers. They formed an open column, right in front, wheeled into line, opened ranks, and saluted, and the Ryde band playing “God save the Queen.” Having passed through the manual exercise, they deployed into line, and in that position advanced and retired, the movement being loudly applauded by the spectators. They afterwards formed into columns and squares, and re-formed into line; after which the first company went out in skirmishing order, supported by the second. They next formed into close column, faced to the left, and were addressed by the colonel to the following effect:- “I am certain that all the bystanders present must feel, with me, astonishment and gratification at the manner in which you have gone through the various manoeuvres. As an old soldier, I can assure you that I have seen soldiers of the line who have been some months at Battalion drill not performed some of the movements with more precision as you have this day. I hope you will give the Governor of the Island, Lord Eversley, an opportunity of witnessing one of your Battalion drills. He (the Governor) will be at leisure after next week, and I hope you will name an early day.

The troops shortly afterwards marched off to their respective destinations, the colour of the uniform of the Ryde corps having changed from the dark Green to a more chalky hue, from the clouds of dust through which they had to march on their road home.

11 August 1860

Isle of Wight Life Boats. - The Royal National Life Boat Institution has, this week, sent two of its best single banked life boats, accompanied with transporting carriages, to the Isle of Wight, to be stationed respectively at Grange and Brook, each boat 30 feet long, 7 feet wide, and rows 8 oars. A few days ago a harbour trial of them took place at Limehouse, in the presence of the builders (Messrs. Forrestt), the Inspector of life boats to the Institution, and others. Their self-righting qualities were fully and satisfactorily developed, the water they thus shipped being self-ejected through patent valves in about 20 seconds. The following are some of the remarkable qualities of this class of lifeboat:- 1, Great lateral stability; 2, speed against a heavy sea; 3, facility for launching and for taking the shore; 4, immediate self-discharge of any water breaking into her; 5, the important advantage of self-righting if upset; 6, strength; 7, stowage room for a number of passengers. The transporting carriages of the boats, which were built by Mr. Robinson, of Camden Town, London, are admirably adapted for their purpose by an ingenious contrivance, the boat, with her crew on board, being launched off the carriage, with their oars in their hands and are thus able to obtain headway before the breakers have time to beat the boat broadside on the beach. The hauling up of the life boat on her carriage is accomplished with equal facility. The cost of the Grange life boat and transporting carriages is the gift of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Commodious and substantial houses have been built for the reception of the life boats, their stores, and carriages, from design specially prepared by C. H. Cooke, Esq., London, honorary architect to the Life Boat Institution, in fact, there will not probably be two more complete lifeboat establishments on the whole coast than will shortly be found on the south coast of the Isle of Wight. A free conveyance was kindly given by the South-Western Railway Company on their line to the boats and carriages. Arrangements will forthwith be made by the local committees for the organization of the crews and for the appointment of efficient Coxswains for the boats. The Rev. Edward M’All, Rev. T. P. Gaze, and George Wyatt, Esq., and other gentlemen have been indefatigable in their exertions to obtain public support in aid of the cost of these establishments, which cannot altogether be much less than £1000, indeed, the success of the undertaking, which must always be reckoned as one of our noblest local charities, is mainly to be attributed, and will always remain a monument of their zeal. Sir Jas. Copley, Bart., C. Seely, Esq., and Turner Turner, Esq., have been the most liberal contributors to the humane undertaking. Some interesting trials were made on Friday (Yesterday) off Ryde, with the Lifeboat presented by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, and on the 16th inst. it is proposed, we believe, to have a public demonstration on the arrival of the two boats on arrival the island, Mr. Seeley having intimated his intention to celebrate the event by a déjeuner to a large number of friends and subscribers. The National Lifeboat Institution now has 103 life boats in connection with it, a truly noble fleet, and only outnumbered by the Navies of commerce and war, but the largest life-saving fleet the world has ever yet seen. Some of these boats have even this year been instrumental in saving 115 of our fellow creatures from a watery grave, it is therefore evident that a large sum is required by the institution to maintain its numerous lifeboat establishments in an efficient state, and that the sacred work in which it is engaged can only be perpetuated by endowments, and the continued Liberal support of the public.

A very severe accident befel a lad named Petty, whilst exercising a powerful horse on Node hill, on Monday last, the animal having reared beyond its balance, fell back upon its unfortunate rider, who luckily escaped immediate death, but suffered a severe fracture of the bone of the arm and a dislocated wrist. He was conveyed to the hospital, and immediate attention paid to his sufferings.

[The Borough Court, Newport] Ann Stickly, Caroline Heal, Ellen Groundsell, and Eliza Watson were charged by P. C. Tiley with misbehaving themselves in the middle of the night of Friday, having for nearly three hours kept the neighbourhood awake, as a witness described it, by holloaing, screaming, and screeching in Pyle-Street; but an appearance of the policeman they all flew to their different haunts, except Stickly, who was too drunk to make her escape. The evidence with respect to the other three was not very satisfactory, and they were dismissed, but the former was mulet in the sum of 10s., which she paid, and was discharged.


18 August 1860

The Isle of Wight Races came off on Wednesday on Bowcombe Down. Mr. W. Pragnell’s Pastime won the Maiden Plate; Mr. Mew’s Carmel, the Sweepstake; Mr. F. Buckell’s Nun, the prize for galloway's; and Mr. J. Bull’s Novelty, the hurdle race, at which time the rain was pouring down in torrents, sending thousands to their homes without a dry thread on their backs.

[Newport] The Grange lifeboat, presented by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, passed through this town on its own carriage on Saturday last, on its way to its destination, and attracted a very great number of spectators. It is a well built craft, provided with all sorts of apparatus for saving life. We understand that, together with the National lifeboat forwarded to Brook a few days before, it is also to be fitted up with Dennett's celebrated rockets and addition to the other apparatus.


25 August 1860

The Harvest commenced on several farms in the island on Monday, the light clouds promising a return of fine weather, but field Labour has been continually interrupted since that time by continued rain and tempests, and very little of it will be mixed in good order till St. Swithin’s term of penance has expired. The yield of wheat and barley appears to be equal to the general average. The turnip crops throughout are very prolific, and we hope may tend to decrease the price of Mutton.

[County Petty Sessions, Town Hall, Newport] William Meads, Patrick Mooney, Henry Kelly and James Carey, four privates in the Royal Artillery, stationed at Freshwater, were brought up handcuffed, and a charge of having made a murderous and cowardly attack on James Blandford, the landlord of the “King’s Head at Yarmouth”, whose life was despaired of for several days. Mr. Campbell, the superintendent of police, having made an affidavit to the effect that the sufferer was too ill to be moved, the court remanded the prisoner until Saturday (this day).

[Cowes] The Collector of Her Majesty's Customs at this port, W. Love, Esq., retires from the public service after the lengthened period of 53 years. He carries into retirement of the regard in the esteem of all who have known him, and they hope he may be spared many years to enjoy as well-earned leisure. J. Dear, Esq., comptroller of this port, succeeds Mr. Love as collector.

The Isle of Wight 150 years ago

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