Bembridge in old picture postcards

Bembridge in old picture postcards

:   Martin Woodward
:   Bembridge
:   Isle of Wight
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5147-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Bembridge in old picture postcards'

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The Village of Bembridge, situated on the eastern tip of the Isle of Wight, was at one time a scarcely populated island known as 'Binbridge Isle' or 'Byndbridge'. The sea in those bygone days extended right through Brading Haven to Sandown Bay at Yaverland, as can be seen on an early engraving in 'Bembridge Past and Present', which shows King Henry VIII's Sandharn Cast/e surrounded by water in the middle of the Sandown end of what used to be Brading Harbour.

Despite three early reelamations or 'innings', which stopped the sea flowing into the upper regions at Sandown and Whitefield Woods, the first real attempt at reclaiming the main area of Brading Haven, known now as the 'marshes' , did not take place until 1630. Before these 'innings' were carried out, it was possible for ships to sail up the old channel to the back of Brading High Street, and it is said that King Charles II disembarked here in 1665 whilst on his way to visit Sandown Castle.

In 1616, King James gifted Brading Haven to a John Gibbs, one of his staff, who had been influenced into requesting the lands by Sir Bevis Thelwell, who was anxious to acquire the lands for hirnself. This gift much angered the landowners whose lands adjoined the Haven, and they taak their case to the law courts in an attempt to prove th at it was their property. In this they failed, however, and the King ultimately won.

Sir Bevis Thelwell's next objective was to reclaim the

Haven, and he subsequent/y entered into an agreement with a talented engineer of the time, Sir Hugh Myddelton, who in turn enrolled the services of a team of Dutch engineers, at that time considered the masters of the art of reclaiming submerged land. On 16th December 1620, the reclamation project commenced, with piles being driven to form an embankment across to the Duver from Bernbridge. One puzzling result of these works was that when the land was emptied of water, a stone-cased weIl was discovered in the middle, thus proving that at some time in the past this part must have been above sea level.

There followed various disputes over the lands, and eventuaIly in 1630 came a serious breach at the easternmost end of the embankment, which proved too difficult to repair , and the Haven consequently reverted back to its original form until the second reclamation was commeneed in 1878 by Jabez Balfour. This second attempt, despite a few problerns, was eventually successful, and has lasted to this day , considerably changing Bembridge as aresuit.

With the new embankment forrned, and a railway and raad link established with the rest of the island, Bembridge suddenly became much more accessible, with a consequent growth in popularity. Suddenly, from being a sleepy fishing hamiet with few residents, the village acquired other attractions such as sailing, golf and bathing. and the new ferry service from the mainland to the har-

bour made it considerably easier to reach from other parts. The tiny village once renowned for smuggling, provisioning of the fleets, and excellent fishing, suddenly became a fashionable resort for the wealthy. Regular steamer services ran from the harbour, and "The Point' was a hive of activity, with the new Royal Spithead Hotel and Railway Station ad ding to the amenities.

The Bembridge Sailing Club was formed in 1886 and became extremely popular with the yachting fraternity, and fameus races and regattas taak pi ace regularly, a tradition th at still remains. The 'Club Boats' and 'Redwings' still compete as they did decades aga, and Bernbridge is one of the few pi aces left where, thankfully, such tradition continues to survive.

The virtually unknown game of golf suddenly be ca me popular at Bembridge after the formation of the Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club at St. Helen's Golf Links on the opposite side of the harbour. This new concept was instrumental in bringing yet more vi sitars to stay in the popular 'Old Bembridge' and 'Royal Spithead' Hotels at The Point, which were ideally situated for the golf course at the Duver.

Bembridge Village itself was at this stage growing considerably, with the open fields of Locks Lane , now Foreland Raad, becoming the site for dozens of new houses, as did the newly formed Dennett Raad off the High Street. Large individual residences we re also springing up to

house people who had initially come on holiday, but had been sa enchanted with the scenery and pleasant way of life th at they had decided to make Bembridge their permanent home.

Unlike sorne other places, local families seem to run for generations, as is apparent by such local names as Attrill, Woodford, Love and Mursell, to name but a few. This applied particularly to the families involved in fishing and the lifeboat service, as can be seen by the presence of the same names today.

Continuing development has now caused Bembridge to grow beyond the sm all vilIage it used to be , but it still retains that certain magnetisrn, despite the many changes th at have taken place over the last few decades. It is a village steeped in history, and as such, deserves a far more definitive work to be written about its interesting past. No doubt th ere is a wealth of photographic and written material hidden away in attics around Bembridge Village that could make such a work possible , and many of the older residents still alive today could contribute stories passed down through generations. The danger is, th at if these stories and traditions are not passed on or written down, they are lost forever , and future generations will be deprived of a fascinating insight into the charming Bembridge ofthe old days'.

1. Whitecliff Bay, looking sou th-west. This view of the bay, which is situated at the sou th-western extremity of Bernbridge. iIlustrates the tranquil setting so popular with visitors over the years. The remains of the wreek pictured on the beach are that of the bow section of the HMS P12, a patrol vessel of the First WorId War, which was cut in half after a cellision off Dunnose Point on 4th November 1918. The stern half of the vessel sank approximately one mile off Culver Cliff, but the bow drifted ashore in the position shown, and was subsequently salvaged. However, parts of her were still occasionally exposed on the beach after heavy weather until recent years, wh en they we re finally removed to avoid the risk of injury to visitors using the beaeh.

2. 'The Crab and Lobster lnn', Foreland. This popular inn was, and still is, a favourite haunt-for local fishermen and lifeboatmen over the years. lts position on the cliff edge at Forelands commands a superb view over the Bembridge Ledges and passing shipping, and consequently is very popular with visitors and locals alike. This view, looking south, shows the cottage on the seaward si de incorporating Holbrook's Tearooms, renowned for locallobster, crab and prawns. In more recent years, Holbrooks moved a short distance to different premises, and the 'Crab and Lobster' was extended to include the adjoining cottage and its own restaurant, also specialising in local seafood.

3. 'The Crab and Lobster Inn', Foreland. Looking westward from the cliff edge , this view shows the original form of the inn before the cottage in the foreground was integrated into it. This cottage was owned by the Holbrooks, and they started their original tearooms from here. Forelands in itself was a sm all fishing hamiet mainly engaged in catching shellfish, widely renowned as some of the finest in the country. A large portion of the local catches were transported to the mainland for the London Market, and Bernbridge prawns were particularly famous and much sought after.

4. 'The Old Cottage', Lane End. This charming old thatched cottage was known for a whiie locally as 'Gouges' cottage', when the Gouge family lived there. It was situated at the bottom of Lane End Road opposite the old lifeboat house. Next door was 'St. Veronica's', which was occupied for many years by the Love family, and later by nuns, wh en it acquired the nickname 'The Nunnery'. Evacuated children stayed at 'St. Veronica's' during the Second World War, prior to which the nuns used it as a 'retreat', extending it from its previous 'two up - two down' configuration. The old thatched cottage became derelict in later years and was eventually demolished, making way for a newer house to be built on the site.

5. Lane End Regatta. This popular annual event taak pi ace at Lane End Beach, and included all forms of baat races and water sports. It was well-attended by the village people and visitors alike, and still takes place today, a tradition handed down through generations of the same families. In this view, taken around the beginning of this century, the lifeboat pier is noticeable by its absence, as today it would be right through the centre of the photograph. The first Lane End Regatta was apparently held in 1903, and has always remained a separate entity to the Village Regatta, held at the harbour.

6. Poreland Raad, looking north-west. Looking toward the village. from where the Post Office is today, this view ilIustrates the tree-lined road as it appeared before the onset of the motor car. Nowadays it is Iined with cars rather than trees, and is a very busy thoroughfare, sadly a far cry from the peaceful village scene portrayed in this photograph. Prior to the building of housing in Foreland Road, it was a track known as Locks Lane, and connected the village with Lane End and Forelands.

7. The High Streel, looking north. This view shows some of the more prominent houses of the High Street as they appeared at the turn of the century. Most of these properties still exist, but some have been altered or extended, rnaking their appearance slightly different when looking at them today. Several well-known families have resided in these properties over the years.

8. The High Street. The very early cottage in the centre of this photograph was one of the original dwellings of the village. and has long since been demolished to make way for a more modern building and shop, which is now known as 'The Stores'. For many years the old cottage was a school, known as Dame Attrill's School, and run by Priscilla Attrill between 1850 and 1900. Many of the local children we re taught there , one of whom was Edmund Attrill, later to become the lifeboat coxswain. Dame Attrill died in 1904, aged 77, and the building was eventually pulled down in 1928. Note the very early front door of the cottage.

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