LETTERS From Emmylou Morey Clark, Freshwater:
I WOULD relish the opportunity to weigh in on the IW/IOW 'debate’.
Having lived on the Island almost my whole life and my family going back generations as Islanders, my understanding has always been that the correct abbreviation of the Isle of Wight is IW or IoW at a push, but never IOW.
After thumbing through a variety of local books, including the 1924-1925 edition of Kelly’s Directory, and Eric Toogood’s The West Wight Remembered and More Memories of the West Wight, I was delighted to discover plenty of evidence in the form of advertisements and receipts. These prove that at one time, perhaps until 1869, the abbreviation IOW was used, but at least since 1890, the preferred abbreviation is IW.
So, Caroline Ford et al, I can confirm we have not suddenly 'dropped the "of" and been renamed IW’, nor is it 'the new trendy way’ as you can clearly see the IW abbreviation has been in use for at least 122 years.
I cannot offer further information on the reason for this chosen abbreviation, but the GPO theory provided by Mr Attrill is entirely plausible.
I, personally, find it annoying when an Overner comes here and tries to change things. Well, I’m sorry but you can’t change the facts. If you don’t like the IW, you have the choice to return to the North Island.
The timeline I discovered:
Cir. 1723: IOW.
1875 I of W.
1875 I of Wight
• More letters on this topic in the Friday, August 17, County Press.