Cowes Week abandoned, Needles passage closed and prisoners dig trenches — the Wight at War

By Ross Findon

Published on Monday, August 04, 2014 - 10:20


Cowes Week abandoned, Needles passage closed and prisoners dig trenches — the Wight at War

Soldiers in the First World War. The Isle of Wight County Press is giving away a free copy of its 1914 report on the outbreak of war.

TO mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, the Isle of Wight County Press is giving away a copy of its original report on the outbreak of the conflict, free for every reader.

Despite being many miles from the front line, there was plenty to report when the newspaper went to print on August 8, 1914.

Sir Charles Seely, equipped a number of rooms at his Brooke House for hospital work at the disposal of the government. He also offered Gatcombe House for the same purpose.

At the other end of the social spectrum, 70 inmates of Camp Hill Prison showed their patriotism by volunteering their trenching skills to help fortify the Island’s coast, under military guard.

They cheered as several of their army reservist officers left the jail to do their duty.

The Needles passage was closed off to all incoming traffic, with all vessels being required to be presented for inspection in Sandown Bay or St Helens Roads.

Several yachts and tramp steamers failed to see the signals and warning shots were fired across their bows.

The newspaper reported that the military was guarding the railways and, within hours, one man had been detained on suspicion of espionage.

Cowes Week was abandoned, visitors left in large droves, and families waved-off loved ones at railway stations across the Island.

"The men were generally in good spirits, whilst wives with little ones and sisters and mothers of the Reservists bravely suppressed as much of their emotion as possible, but there were many tear-stained eyes and countenances."

Amid rapidly escalating food prices it was announced that flour was no longer to be sent to the mainland in case of dislocation of shipping and railway traffic.

"There is, however, no need for alarm in this respect," the article added, reassuringly.

To unlock more of the Island's history through the pages of the Isle of Wight County Press, please visit our archive.

•To download your copy of the August 8, 1914 Isle of Wight County Press report, click here. When zooming in on the page, please allow a few seconds for the page to refocus (the page may also take a few seconds to load initially).

A copy of the page is available to view below, however for best results please download the page.

The Isle of Wight County Press, August 8, 1914 - the outbreak of the First World War


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