Looking Back, Friday, February 21, 2014

By Sara Bryce

Friday, February 21, 2014


LOOKING BACK100 Years Ago - February 21, 1914

A STORM wreaked havoc across the Island causing damage to Alum Bay’s pier.

A large pile was torn from the head of the pier during the heavy gales and thrown into the sea.


Ravens released around Alum Bay were found to still be living in the area.

The birds were released by Mr Isaacs, the piermaster, on behalf of the British Bird Protection Society in the hope they would nest in the spring.

Sportsmen were requested not to shoot them.


A second outbreak of fire at Merrie Gardens Farm, near Sandown, occurred just a fortnight after the first.

The fire occurred in the cow shed close to the main road. There were 17 cows inside. A building, comprising the stabling and loft, was burnt out after the fire.

Farm manager Arthur Sibbick battled through the fire to reach the cows and got them all out before attempting to tackle the fire.

75 Years Ago -February 25, 1939

The refloating of the submarine Sunfish, which ran aground near the Esplanade, Sandown, ended the story of two stranded submarines, which received national attention.

Three submarines of the 5th Flotilla — Sunfish, Sterlet and Unity — anchored in calm seas to the east of Sandown Pier but, following a strong southerly gale during the night, Sunfish and Sterlet were found stranded in shallow water on the sandbanks.

Naval destroyers battled to free the two subs.


The Long Stone at Mottistone was believed to be the earliest monument of man’s construction on the Island.

Standing on Mottistone Down, on a high mound, is the huge rough quadrangular pillar of iron sandstone with a smaller recumbent stone at its foot.

The stone is 13ft tall, is estimated to weigh around 30 tonnes and bears many marks of unknown origin.


Two very unusual discoveries were made on the Island. A perfectly preserved early bronze age urn, which had lain undisturbed for around 3,000 years, was discovered in Newtown.

Mr H. E. Pritchett, of Northwood, who made the discovery, had been making excavations at a site in the woods.

Between Thorness and Newtown, Capt J. S. Cottrell, of Bouldnor, Yarmouth, also discovered fossilised frontal skull bones and horns of a European bison or wild ox, an animal which had been extinct in the country for thousands of years.

50 Years Ago - February 22, 1964

Following a report from the RAF co-ordination centre at Plymouth that a single-seater Naval Seahawk jet crashed into the sea, coastguards and police were alerted and the lifeboats at Bembridge and Selsey were called out.

Coastal command and a rescue helicopter joined the search for the civilian pilot of the Seahawk, which crashed 13 miles out in the channel between St Catherine’s Point and Worthing.

A ship had reported seeing a yellow flashing light in the sea near Selsey.


Making East Cowes the main entrance to the Island was considered by Cowes Council after lengthy discussions on traffic problems, which followed the launch of the Red Funnel steamer.

Widening of the town’s narrow streets was considered, as well as purchasing properties in order to knock them down to make space to accommodate the extra cars and buses meeting the boats.


A hovercraft passenger and car ferry service was being considered for The Solent.

A group of businessmen discussing the proposal were said to be confident the craft on the drawing board — a 120-ton machine capable of carrying 30 cars and 150 passengers — was up to the job of crossing The Solent in just ten minutes.

25 Years Ago - February 17, 1989

A cheeky chappy, photographed clutching a copy of the County Press in his mouth, was Gunner, the black Labrador.

Gunner had received get well cards and calls from around the country after the County Press featured a story on his plight after he swallowed a barbed fish hook during a walk along Colwell Bay.

Owner Marion Heming, of Bouldnor, said three-year-old Gunner had received cards and calls from as far as afield Paris and Scotland during his convalescence.


Brighton detectives recovered two priceless royal wedding rings stolen from St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham.

The rings were part of a hidden haul discovered after police questioned an escapee from an open prison, who confessed to raiding the church while on the run.

The Victorian gold and diamond eternity rings belonged to Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, and her husband, Prince Henry of Battenburg.


An early fixture on the maternity list had soccer centre half Wayne Peak sprinting off the pitch to get his wife to hospital.

Back home at their flat above Wight City Leisure Centre, Sandown, which was owned by Wayne, 25, expectant mother Elizabeth went into labour four days early.

Elizabeth called down to one of the Wight City staff, who dashed to Wight City FC’s home ground to fetch the expectant dad.

Son Ellery was born two hours later.

10 Years Ago - February 2, 2004

A giant Chinese dragon danced for youngsters at St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, Newport, after a group of Year 3 pupils and their families built it.

The construction of the 12-person dragon, which is a Chinese symbol of health, wealth and happiness, was part of a month-long project to explore Chinese culture through art and dance.


When children at Binstead Primary School said they wanted a dinosaur on their playing field, everyone dismissed the idea as too zany.

But visitors to the school saw their wish had come true.

There, weaved and growing out of living willow, was a dinosaur — not just any old dinosaur either, this was a monster the children could crawl inside through a specially constructed tunnel.


Dexter the Labrador proved to be man’s best friend when he unwittingly helped his owner make a significant archaeological discovery dating back more than 3,000 years.

Harvey Jones, of Cranleigh Gardens, Northwood, was walking boisterous two-year-old Dexter on Bembridge Down when he ran off into a huge gorse bush, dragging Harvey with him. Perched on top of a rabbit hole was a Bronze Age axe.

Harvey said: "It was only thanks to Dexter, and National Trust rules about keeping pets on leads, that I actually saw it."

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