Island Images - Photography by Ben Wood

View of the Island

Round the Island Race

"She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight, and she calls it The Island, as if there were no other island in
the world".

- Jane Austin, Mansfield Park -


The Isle of Wight is a wonderful place to live and work and the ten years I've spent here have not only given me a lovely home but have inspired and informed much of my photography. The island is a particularly varied place with beautiful scenery, quirky traditions, exciting yachting and a fascinating history. Here are a few well known and lesser known facts about the island to put you in the picture.

At the end of the Roman Empire and for a brief time in the 15th Century, the Isle of Wight was a kingdom in its own right - it is now a county. Charles I of England was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle. Famous islanders include: future Roman Emperor Vespasian, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Juliet Margaret Cameron and Queen Victoria who built Osborne House in east Cowes in the 1850's. The Royal Yacht Squadron, founded in 1815, held an annual race called the 100 Guinea Cup which in 1851 was won by yacht America -  The America's Cup was born.

The island played its part in the Wars with Pluto (pipeline under the ocean) intended to run from the island to France, forts and anti-submarine nets in the Solent and heavy aircraft defence on the south coast intended to mislead German fighters into thinking they were striking Portsmouth or Southampton. The original Ryde Point-to-Point which Queen Victoria watched from her train carriage, was known as the most corrupt race in the country - riders often disappeared into the woods to mount fresh horses. The Isle of Wight Hunt is the oldest-established sporting organization on the island and arguably the only 'island' foxhunt in the world. The Fort Walk at Bembridge has become a phenomenon, attracting huge crowds seduced by a little bit of English eccentricity. Every year, during high summer, hundreds of people walk through the receding tide to St. Helens Fort. The Isle of Wight Scooter Rally, generally held over the August bank holiday, started in the early 1970's after similar events, featuring Mods and Rockers, were banned in Brighton.

The Brambles Cricket Match was first played after World War II between teams raised by the yacht-designer Uffa Fox and the Northwood Cricket Club. The match coincides with the lowest tides of the year, when there is just enough time for six overs per side. Although the match is taken quite seriously, the sides take it in turn to win. The worlds first radio station was set up at the Needles by Marconi. The hover craft was invented here. The 1970 Isle of Wight Rock Festival was one of the largest rock music events ever held with over 600,000 people witnessing one of the last performances by Jimi Hendrix. Local squirrels are red. The ferries that connect the island to Portsmouth and Southampton are the most expensive in the world.

The Isle of Wight is home to an eclectic mix of artists, entrepreneurs not to mention amazing one-off events. Here are a few to give you a flavour of what the island has to offer.