The eastern part of the Isle of Wight lies to the South of Portsmouth and Ryde is clearly visible over the water, from Southsea. Foot passengers have the choice of the hovercraft or boat, both of which only take about 10 minutes.
The hovercraft service is now, apparently, the only regular hovercraft passenger service in Europe. It travels directly to Ryde itself. The boat travels to the end of Ryde pier, which is about 700 meters long (the fourth longest pier in Britain). However, the Ryde-Sandown railway does travel right to the end of the pier to meet the boat, if required. Up to 1962, there was also a tramway traveling the length of the pier, the remains of which can be seen between the pedestrian section and the railway. The book Babycham Nights by Philip Norman tells of his childhood growing up on the pier, when his father ran an amusement center there.
The stretch of water between the island and the mainland is held by some to be the most expensive stretch of water to cross in the entire world, per kilometer.
The island is known to many because of the music festivals, which were staged in Freshwater.
It is also a refuge for red squirrels. Surprisingly, given the width of the Solent, grey squirrels keep appearing every now and again (and are promptly dispatched).
Isle of Wight links
1052 Godwin, Harold and Leofwine, who had been expelled from England by Edward the previous year, attempted to re-establish their power in this year, successfully as it turned out. During their campaign, the three rendevoused off the Isle of Wight, and Godwin took the opportunity to lay waste to the island.
The Ryde to Shanklin Railway is the last remaining stretch of public railway on the island. It was due to be shut under the Beeching Plans - but given a brief reprieve by British Rail, who spent a fairly small amount on electrifying it with old tube stock from London (still under the assumption that the line only had a short existence left). This 'brief' reprieve has turned into its continued existence to this very day. However, the line was chopped off at its southern end into Ventnor, something which I believe lead to a measurable decline in Ventnor's fortunes at the time.
The following report is from Private Eye
Darling and Brown should look at the Isle of Wight line to see why privatised rail is such a rip-off. Last year Stagecoach got £3.1 m subsidy (58 percent more than in 1997-98, the franchise's first full year) for this 8.5-mile route.
Rail Professional magazine reports that leasing Island Line's 12 carriages nets £140,000 a year for HSBC bank's rail arm. That might be reasonable if HSBC had supplied new trains recently, but these date from the year Hitler invaded Austria. They worked more than their intended life-span on London Underground and even scrap merchants say the 66-year-old trains are worthless. Rail Professional says HSBC has pocketed more than £1 m in eight years for trains worth almost nothing, making them "the most expensive trains anywhere in the world".
In 1949 John Britten and Desmond Norman, former apprentices at the de Havilland aeronautical engineering training school, formed a partnership with the aim of building new aircraft. Their first plane, the BN-IF Finibee, made its maiden flight on 26 May, 1951. Although not as successful as they had hoped, it still survives, and is in the Southampton Hall of Aviation. The partners then, for a time, abandoned the idea of building planes, concentrating on converting training aircraft into planes that could be used for crop-spraying. They also designed crop-spraying equipment, creating the Micronair Rotary Atomiser. As another string to their bow, they formed a company called Cushioncraft, to build hovercraft. This, in 1972, was taken over by British Hovercraft Corporation1.
Britten and Norman, based in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, were still interested in building aircraft. When they noticed that there were no low-maintenance, rugged aircraft capable of using short runways on the market, they decided to make one of their own. The BN-2 Islander was designed in 1963, and made its maiden flight in June 1965. A few days later it appeared at the Paris Air Show. The Islander, a twin-engined plane, with accommodation for nine passengers, soon became popular. By 1968 more than 200 had been made. These well-designed aircraft provided a reliable service in at least 27 different countries. They are still being built today, with over 900 assembled using the original design. The Islander now boasts the longest production run of any post-war British aircraft.
Different variations were tried. The first, the BN-3 Nymph, was a smaller, single-engined version. Only two prototypes were built. Neither made it into commercial production. On 11 September, 1970, the BN-2A Mk III made its maiden flight. It was a three-engined, 17 passenger plane, and was soon named the Trislander. 81 Trislanders were built. An American version is currently being made by the International Aviation Corporation. This plane is known as the Tri-Commutair and are the main aircraft servicing the Channel Islands. They are also popular with numerous American airlines. The Trislander was the first and, so far, the only three piston-powered passenger air transport.
In 1971 the first Defender was built - a larger, military version of the Islander. Over 200 have been built so far. Other ideas were the BN-4, an even larger Islander capable of carrying 21 people, and the Mainlander, a three-engined STOL prop-jet for up to 100 passengers, yet nothing came of either design. Sadly, John Britten died in July 1977. New models were designed in 1981, 1991 and 1994. By 1998 over 1,200 Islanders had been built. They are still being produced at Bembridge.
Small Aircraft Companies
Desmond Norman also established NDN Aircraft, at Sandown, Isle of Wight, in 1976. This company produced the NDN-1 Firecracker. This plane first flew in May 1977, but did not win a production order. In 1983 a turbine version made its maiden flight, and three were built. They too failed to make any impact. In 1981 the tandem-seated NDN-6 Fieldmaster was built and flown as a crop-sprayer. Oil-pollution clearance and fire-fighting versions, known as the Firemaster, were designed as well. At least five were built. NDN Aircraft changed its name to Norman Aeroplane Company and, in 1984, the NAC-1 Freelance was built, based on the BN-3 Nymph. Only this prototype was assembled.
In 1976 Britten Aviation Technical Services was established at Sandown. This company tried to develop a twin-engined pleasure aircraft called the Sheriff, but it failed. Wight Engineering at Shanklin built parts for the Edgley EA7 Optica surveillance aircraft. This was not a commercial success.
In 1983 ARV Aviation was established at Sandown Airport by Richard Noble2. The company designed the Super Two, a small, light plane with a two-stroke engine. Thirty were sold in total before 1991.
Other aircraft companies based at Sandown Airport include Solar Microlights, which builds small, single-person microlights. Another, Airframes Assemblies, builds spare parts for historic aircraft, specialising in Spitfires.
In 1985, the British Hovercraft Corporation3 was renamed Westland Aerospace. The East Cowes workplace now concentrated less on building hovercraft and more on building composite engine nacelles4 for the de Havilland Dash-8 and wings for the Short S330. Within ten years, over 60% of the world's turboprop nacelle production took place at East Cowes. Aircraft supplied included the Dornier 328, British Aerospace Jetstream 41, the Saab 2000, the C130J Hercules (in 1993) and in 1995 the Dash 8-400 series. They also provided components for turbofan nacelles for the French SNECMA CFM 56-5C2, the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, as well as building parts for the Boeing Globemaster, Boeing 747 and 737.
As Westlands, they provide helicopter structures for the Westland EH101 Merlin as well as equipment for the Wessex, Sea King, Lynx and Puma5. They also make long-range fuel pods for the Boeing Chinook helicopter. In 1983, the company won the highly sought-after contract to construct the Mast Torque Sensing System for the revolutionary Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
In 1994, Westland Aerospace was taken over by Guest, Keene and Nettlefold, to form GKN Westland Aerospace. Since then the East Cowes workers have been working on the huge fan cowl doors for the Airbus A330 and the tailcone for the Canadair CRJ-700. In 1998 Lockheed Martin ordered nacelles for the C27J transport.
The Isle of Wight has had considerable success with its aircraft industry. This is especially notable considering the small size of its companies. It may not have produced many world-changing aeroplanes such as the Spitfire, Harrier or Concorde, but it has played a significant part in aircraft history, culminating in the SR.A1, the Princess and the launch of the Prospero satellite.
1 British Hovercraft Corporation was originally named Saunders-Roe. 2 Richard Noble is famous for the Thrust 2 and Thrust SSC world land speed records. 3 Originally named Saunders-Roe. 4 A separate streamlined enclosure on an aircraft for sheltering the crew or cargo or housing an engine. 5 Most helicopter work is done at Westland's Yeovil factory.
In 1959, Saunders-Roe - whose company had recently been bought by Westland Aircraft - began work on the new vehicle with great enthusiasm. The world's first hovercraft was completed two months ahead of schedule, only eight months after it was started. The Cockerell-designed research vessel Saunders Roe Nautical One (SR.N1) appeared in May at East Cowes, Isle of Wight. The first flight took place on 11 June.
The press watched with astonishment as the model craft was demonstrated to them on a lawn and over a small obstacle course. After that, the full-sized machine was carried out on to the concrete slipway and was launched into the East Cowes yacht basin. This was a nervous time for the engineers because the hovercraft had never before been tried over water, but all went well and no problems were encountered. This, the first skirtless craft, could operate only in calm seas with waves of up to one and a half feet in height, and was able to negotiate obstacles of 6 to 9 inches.
On 25 July, 1959, the SR.N1 crossed the channel between Calais and Dover in two hours and three minutes. It had been shipped to France especially for the occasion, 50 years to the day since Louis Bleriot made the first crossing of the Dover Strait by airplane.
In December, 1959, the Duke of Edinburgh visited Saunders-Roe at East Cowes and persuaded the chief test-pilot, Commander Peter Lamb, to allow him to take over the SR.N1's controls. He flew her so fast that he was asked to slow down a little. On examination of the craft afterwards, it was found that she had been dished in the bow due to excessive speed, damage which was never allowed to be repaired, and which was affectionately referred to as the 'Royal Dent'.
After reading about Cockerell's experiments, another inventor, CH Latimer-Needham, thought about the size of the waves that hovercraft would likely encounter in the English Channel and the Atlantic. Although the SR.N1 was a success, it was plagued by slow performance and the inability to traverse even very small waves easily, due to its low hover height of only 23cm. Latimer-Needham was convinced that the way forward was to create a flexible skirt to contain the air cushion. This would let hovercraft travel during rougher weather and, in October 1961, Latimer-Needham sold his skirt patents to Westland.
The introduction of the skirt was a vital engineering breakthrough. It meant that the total depth of the air cushion beneath the solid structure was now equal to the depth of the skirt and engineers soon discovered that the obstacle clearance height was ten times greater. Apart from being subjected to wear and tear, particularly at high speed over water, skirts had few operational problems. The skirt was found to deform around waves, rocks and jetties, afterwards promptly returning to its normal inflated shape, keeping air leakage at a minimum.
The SR.N1, which in its original piston-engined configuration could already make a respectable 35 knots, was now fitted with a Rolls Royce Viper jet engine which gave it an easy 50 knots. With a four foot skirt fitted around its perimeter, the craft could cope with six to seven foot waves, cross marshland with gullies up to four foot deep and traverse obstacles up to three foot six inches high. Moreover, the craft was now operating at twice its original weight, with no extra lift-power needed. The SR.N1 can now be seen in the Science Museum in London.
Other Saunders-Roe Hovercraft
Other companies started building hovercraft, especially Vickers and Vosper Thornycroft, but Saunders-Roe continued to lead the way.
In late 1959 it began to design the first passenger-carrying hovercraft and, by 1962, the SR.N2 had entered commercial service with a payload of 59 passengers. However, the field was moving fast and subsequent advancements in hovercraft technology quickly overtook it, so that only the one was ever built.
By the end of 1963, the Ministry of Technology asked for a larger version of the SR.N2 for military purposes. This was the SR.N3 and it was capable of carrying 92 fully-equipped soldiers at speeds over 70 knots. It was launched in December 1963 and was also designed to carry vehicles such as jeeps or medium-sized trucks. Again, only one was built. The IHTU, Interservice Hovercraft Trials Unit, tested the SR.N3 at their facility at HMS Daedalus near Gosport to ascertain whether hovercraft could have any military potential.
By 1974, after using the SR.N3 in a number of roles, the Ministry of Defence decided to use it as a testbed to see how vulnerable hovercraft were to under-water explosions. The SR.N3 was tethered and subjected to a series of explosions, some actually under the craft, and yet not only did it survive, but it was still capable of returning to base under its own power.
The SR.N5 and SR.N6
Meanwhile, Saunders-Roe had started work on the SR.N5. This was the first hovercraft to be designed from the start to be fitted with a deep, flexible skirt. The SR.N5, known as the 'Warden' class, was almost 40ft long and 23ft wide, could carry 18 passengers and had a top speed of 66 knots. The first craft hovered in April 1964 and 14 were built.
As soon as the SR.N5 appeared in service, there was a demand for hovercraft with greater carrying capacity. So, in 1964, the SR.N6 'Winchester' class was designed, essentially a SR.N5 but 10ft longer. The first SR.N6 was launched in March 1965 and could carry 38 passengers. British Rail Hovercraft Ltd, though, were not content with this and requested an even bigger craft, so in 1972 the SR.N6 was duly stretched by a further 10ft. The passenger capacity was now 58 and, perhaps surprisingly, performance was not affected by the stretch.
The last in the SRN.5/6 series was designed to be quieter, as all of Saunders-Roe's hovercraft were quite noisy2. By this time, in 1982, 69 SRN5/6 craft had been built, including five for the Iraqi Navy and eight for the Imperial Iranian Navy.
Westland had intended to follow the SR.N3 with a large craft, the SR.N4, but this was delayed until the skirts for the SR.N1 and SR.N5 had been fully developed and tested. In 1965, the project was authorised and work was started. Despite the Saunders-Roe company merging with Vickers Supermarine in December, 1966, forming the British Hovercraft Corporation Ltd and causing Sir Christopher Cockerell's resignation, work continued and the first trials began in 1967. The SR.N4, known as the 'Mountbatten' class, was the world's largest hovercraft, capable of carrying 254 passengers and 30 cars across the channel in half an hour. It displaced 200 tons, had a top speed of 83 knots3 and ran on aviation fuel. The SR.N4's propellers, at 21 feet in diameter, were (and still are) the largest driven propellers in the world.
The SR.N4's 2.5m skirt was expected to cope with most conditions in the Channel. It underwent two hours 30 minutes of trials, covering a distance of 20 miles and reaching speeds approaching 50 knots, in winds gusting to force 6. The world's first hovercraft car ferry made its maiden flight from Dover to Boulogne on 11 June, crossing in 35 minutes.
This not only captured the public imagination, but the British government also instructed British Rail to set up a hovercraft subsidiary and introduce an Isle of Wight route prior to taking delivery of the first SR.N4 for cross-Channel services in 1968.
It was soon realised that the skirt system still had not been perfected and, by 1976, the skirts were replaced. The new skirt, when inflated, raised the craft three metres into the air. The SRN.4s were also stretched by 55ft, increasing passenger accommodation to 418 and the car capacity to 60. Now displacing 300 tons, the SR.N4 was nicknamed 'Super 4'. It is the world's largest hovercraft, for which the Cowes, Isle of Wight, workcrew were awarded the 1978 Award for Innovation.
After the SRN.4
The Saunders-Roe team continued to make hovercraft. The next model, the BH-74 was started in 1969 and was called the 'Wellington' class. Six were sold to the Imperial Iranian Navy.
In 1972, the British Hovercraft Corporation bought another Isle of Wight company, Cushioncraft, which had specialised in sidewalls. This company had been created by John Britten and Desmond Norman, who designed the very successful Islander aircraft.
The latest class of hovercraft to be built were the AP1-88 in 1982. By the year 2000 over 14 had been built including tank-landing hovercraft for the American Army, some for the Canadian Coastguard and several domestic passenger models, especially for the Isle of Wight route.
Domestic British Hovercraft Routes
Three years after the hovercraft's invention, hovercraft passenger routes soon started to open up throughout Great Britain, but few lasted long. The main exception has been getting to the Isle of Wight, home to Saunders-Roe and other manufacturers, where machines have flourished.
In August 1962, a passenger service was started from Eastney beach, Southsea (near Portsmouth) to Ryde, Isle of Wight, on weekday mornings using the newly-built 48 seat SR.N2 craft. A new company, Hovertransport, was also formed to carry passengers on the experimental Ryde to Eastney route. In 1965, Hovertravel Ltd. started their Southsea to Ryde service with Winchester Class, 38 seater SR.N6. This is now the world's oldest hovercraft operator. In addition, a Ryde to Stokes Bay, Gosport, service was also begun, but it closed two years later. Before it closed, though, it had carried over 500,000 passengers.
During March, 1965, British Rail Hovercraft Ltd formed Seaspeed and the Southampton to Cowes service started in July with two 36 seat SR.N6 craft. In March, 1967, Seaspeed's Cowes - Portsmouth Harbour link opened using an SR.N6. The service continued before it closed in September, 1969. April, 1968, saw the inauguration of a third Seaspeed Isle of Wight service, from Portsmouth to Ryde.
Considering the number of hovercraft routes to the Isle of Wight, it is not surprising that a local singer, Lauri Say, wrote and sang a popular song about them on his Songs For Singing Islanders album released in 1968:
What's this rumbling that I hear? What's this roaring in my ear? What's this racket driving everybody daft? Well it's not artillery Or the start of World War Three It's the Westland SRN 'Super-Noiseless' hovercraft.
Oh the hovercraft is coming, Can't you hear that crazy humming? You can see the fishes scatter fore and aft. With it's mighty engine pushing Floating on it's own air cushion It's the Westland SRN 'Super-Noiseless' hovercraft.
It's like a mobile goldfish bowl and When it screams across the Solent, The duration of your journey will be halved. If you don't mind being cramped on For your visit to Southampton Take the Westland SRN 'Super-Noiseless' hovercraft.
The directors made a statement In the cause of noise abatement When we said it made a row they only laughed. 'Anyone can stand the din If he's got his earplugs in On the Westland SRN 'Super-Noiseless' hovercraft.'
If this method of propulsion Fills you with revulsion You should travel on a dinghy or a raft. Whatever you may take You'll never hear the end Of the Westland SRN 'Super-Noiseless' hovercraft.
The folks who live in Cowes and Gurnard tremble by the thousand, And the peace of Ryde is shattered everyday. So if you want a place that's silent, You'd better leave the Island, You can hear the bloody thing at Totland Bay.
Oh the hovercraft is coming, Can't you hear that crazy humming? You can see the fishes scatter fore and aft. With it's mighty engine pushing Floating on it's own air cushion It's the Westland SRN 'Super-Noiseless' hovercraft.
Before long, though, only the Hovertravel service had survived. By 1976, Seaspeed, which had operated three services to the Isle of Wight, had transferred ownership of the Southampton - Cowes route to Hovertravel and closed soon after.
After 1 October, 2000, the Southsea - Isle of Wight hovercraft route was the only remaining one in Europe.
International Hovercraft Routes
The prototype SR.N4, the Princess Margaret, entered commercial service for Seaspeed on the 26 mile route between Dover and Boulogne on 1 August, 1968. This route was chosen so that customers could easily be switched to British Rail's ship ferry service if anything went wrong. Six daily return flights were advertised, the first leaving Dover at 8.20am and then every two hours. Wednesday was half-day - with three round trips followed by a period of maintenance.
During November, 1967, Hoverlloyd Ltd5 was formed with the object of pioneering the world's first international hovercraft service, between Ramsgate and Calais, although in reality it became the second. On 10 December, 1968, Hoverlloyd's first SR.N4, the Swift, was completed at East Cowes. It was the first craft with the new Mk II skirt which provided a smoother ride, more protection to the bow and 30 minutes transit time. Their second craft, Sure, was launched in 1969.
Hoverspeed was created on 25 October, 1981, when Seaspeed and Hoverlloyd merged. Initially the new company operated a fleet of six hovercraft - two SRN4 MkIII hovercraft, The Princess Margaret and The Princess Anne and four SRN4 MkII hovercraft, Swift, Sure, Sir Christopher and The Prince of Wales, on services from Dover to both Calais and Boulogne.
Sadly, however, they have been gradually replaced by Sea Cats. By 2000, only The Princess Margaret and The Princess Anne were still in operation, yet both have a claim to fame. The Princess Anne holds the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel, travelling the 23 miles between Calais and Dover on 14 September, 1995, in just 22 minutes. The Princess Margaret featured in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever. However, both hovercraft were withdrawn from service on 1 October, 2000, leaving the Southsea - Ryde, Isle of Wight route the only remaining hovercraft route in Europe, not far from where the hovercraft was invented.
1 Later knighted to become Sir Christopher Cockerell. 2 Residents of the Isle of Wight soon joked that 'SRN' stood for 'Super-Noiseless'. 3 83 knots is equivalent to 96mph. 4 The name altered from 'SR' to 'BH' because after 1966, Saunders-Roe became the British Hovercraft Corporation, thus BH-7 stood for British Hovercraft Seven. 5 Hoverlloyd Ltd was a Swedish company jointly owned by Swedish Lloyd and the Swedish American Line.
Private Eye 1155 (April 2006)
THE PRICE IS WIGHT
ISLE OF WIGHT council has managed to get through six chief executives in as many years. The island used to manage without a chief exec at all, but in 1998 it was decided to revive the title.
The incumbent clerk to the council, Felix Hetherington, was made redundant, trousering a payoff of some £108,000, plus a £25,000-a-year pension. His replacement, Bernard Quorroll, arrived from Kingston-upon-Thames on a five-year contract at £106,000 a year. Halfway through his term, as returning officer he cocked up a 2001 general election count, giving the Isle of Wight the dubious distinction of being the last constituency in Britain to declare its result. This resulted in Mr Q being packed off by the then Lib Dem administration at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of at least £300,000.
There followed two internal promotions to a new post of "head of paid services", both of whom took lucrative early retirements. The enhancement of one of these was estimated by councillors to have cost taxpayers £250,000. A third head of paid services, Mike Fisher, was eventually allowed to resurrect the title "chief executive", but after the return of the Tories last year his days were numbered and he has been "retired" early, with an undisclosed settlement. The poisoned chalice has now passed to legal services boss John Lawson while the council advertises for a permanent external replacement at £150,000 a year.
The rapidly revolving doors of County Hall have thus far cost taxpayer the thick end of three-quarters of a million quid in the past six years, over and above salaries - about the same amount per year that it would have cost to hire a second chief executive!
Private Eye 1163 (August 2006)
ISLE of Wight council is getting used to life under its new chief executive - the seventh to grasp the poisoned chalice in as many years (see Eye 1155).
Latest "new broom" is Joe Duckworth, formerly deputy dawg at Westminster city council, hired for £150,000 a year. The council's wages computer crashed when it attempted to transfer Duckworth's first salary instalment at the end of June, because no one had ever imagined it would be required to pay anyone more than £9,999.99 a month. Programmers were called in hurriedly to rewrite the software so that all staff could be paid. And not a moment too soon - eight new "director" posts have been announced, with salaries of up to £120,000.
Inflated wage packets are not the only Westminster innovation bemusing the caulkheads. Spin-doctors from Westminster council have been drafted in at a cost of £10,000 a month to "overhaul" the council's "communications strategy". One option under consideration is to spend £lm launching a free weekly newspaper to rival the island's existing paid-for County Press. The CP is not known as the most penetrating investigative organ, but even its occasional squeaks of criticism are too much for Tory council leader Andy Sutton, who recently called the paper "crap" and accused it of "talking down" the Island. Westminster's communications department, of course, is headed by Alex "chicken wrestler" Aiken (Eyes passim). Westminster currently have the contract to run the communications department at Richmond upon Thames where, the Eye revealed last year, Aiken ran a campaign of bullying against a local independent community website which failed to toe the council line. So, a new era of free speech beckons!
PS: Duckworth, who in his first week pompously told staff he doesn't like to be called "Jack", is now known affectionately around County Hall-as "Vera".
Hooke was born in 1635.
In 1653, he entered Christ Church, Oxford and it was here that he came to know Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle.
In 1662 and 1664, he attempted to show that weight varies with height, without success. The location of these experiments werre St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
After the Great Fire of London, he was played a major role in rebuilding the city.
Draw Hipparchus with greater detail than previously.
How Jupiter rotates on its axis
Drawings of mars later used to determine its period of rotation
Great Red Spot
Clash with Helvelius over whether it was any longer acceptable to measure celestial positions without employing telescopic sights. Halley attempted to defuse this argument.
Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), British educator, born in Cowes. He was educated at Winchester College and the University of Oxford. In 1818 he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England. Arnold was headmaster of Rugby School from 1828 to 1842. Under his leadership, the school rose to considerable prominence. Although he was concerned with character development and the encouragement of Christian principles, his major interest was in academic excellence. He tried to instil in the students a desire for knowledge and to provide them with the means to pursue it. Arnold added modern languages, mathematics, history, poetry, and philosophy to Rugby's classical curriculum. His changes influenced the reorganization of the entire English public (that is, private) school system of education. In 1841 Arnold was appointed Professor of Modern History at Oxford. His principal works include a History of Rome (3 vols., 1838-1843), his Oxford Lectures of Modern History (1842), and a posthumously published History of the Later Roman Commonwealth (1845). He was the father of Matthew Arnold, the eminent British poet and critic.
In January 1882, Karl Marx spent two weeks attempting to convalesce in Ventnor, ostensibly because he was told by his doctor that it had a better climate than London. His wife, Jenny, had died in December 1881 while Marx was so ill himself with bronchitis complicated by pleurisy and he was forbidden by his doctor to attend her funeral.
He needed to escape Britain for his health and travelled to Algeria, Monte Carlo, Switzerland and France (where his daughter Jenny lived), before returning to Ventnor in October. He stayed at 1 Boniface Gardens, and seems to have been confined indoors throughout all of December by his illness. It was here in the middle of January 1883 that he learnt that Jenny had died from cancer. He and his youngest daughter, Eleanor, left the island almost immediately and he died two months later.