Rosabelle leaving Newport Quay. © Classic Boat Museum.
The Classic Boat Museum first opened its doors in 1966, next to the River Medina in Newport, with just a handful of boats. It now boasts a collection of more than 50 craft, including a number of notable sailing vessels. These include Isle of Wight boat designer Uffa Fox’s Airborne Lifeboat, credited with saving over 200 lives in World War II, Lord Brabazon’s autogyro rigged Bembridge Redwing and Coweslip, the Flying Fifteen belonging to HRH Prince Philip.
Over the next few months, the collection will be carefully moved from the former Newport Quay site to a new home near the waterfront in East Cowes. The town is already home to the Classic Boat Trust’s existing gallery on Columbine Road, and the boat collection will be located just yards from this unique and fascinating archive, which charts the Island’s impressive maritime heritage.
The relocation has been made possible thanks to the generous offer of temporary premises by the South East England Development Agency, which had planned for a Maritime Heritage Centre in East Cowes as part of its major regeneration of the town.
Rosabelle arrives at the new museum in East Cowes. © Classic Boat Museum.
The new site, in the Albany Building, will house both the collection of boats and restoration and repair workshops. Viewing windows will allow visitors to see the workshops and, in future, the Trust hopes to offer traditional boat maintenance courses to preserve skills. It is hoped that the new museum will be launched in the spring.
Jessica Hart, Chair of the Classic Boat Trust, said: “We have a big task ahead of us, it’s a bit like taking a huge jigsaw puzzle apart and then putting it all back together again. But we’re really excited about our new home, which will give visitors much more room to explore the collection and allow the boats to be shown to their full potential. It also means the museum will be closer to the gallery, which is such a big part of the overall collection and offers a fascinating insight into the Island’s important maritime history.
“With the help of our very dedicated volunteers, I have no doubt that the move will go very smoothly. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support and help. Without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to continue to preserve this unique collection,” Jessica added.
The Trust is a charity consisting of around 50 volunteers, and relies entirely on their goodwill and donations from the public. The £15,000 cost of the move has been met through the fundraising efforts of the volunteers. If you would like to become a volunteer, or if you can help towards the on-going fundraising appeal, please contact the Trust by calling (01983) 244101 or email email@example.com.
- www.classicboatmuseum.org Classic Boat Museum