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Isle of Wight
The island seen from above
Flag of the Isle of Wight Coat of arms of the Isle of Wight
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "All this beauty is of God"
The Isle of Wight in England
Isle of Wight shown within England
Coordinates: 50°40′N 1°16′W / 50.667, -1.267Coordinates: 50°40′N 1°16′W / 50.667, -1.267
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East
Established 1890
Preceded by Hampshire
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Martin White
High Sheriff Mary Case
Area 384 km2 (148 sq mi)
 – Ranked 46th of 48
Population (2006 est.) 138,400
 – Ranked 46th of 48
Density 364 /km2 (940 /sq mi)
Ethnicity 97.0% White
1.0% S. Asian
Unitary authority
Council Isle of Wight Council
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Newport
Area Expression error: Unexpected * operator.Expression error: Missing operand for abs.Expression error: Unexpected < operator. (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. sq mi)
 – Ranked 106th of 326
Population 138,400
 – Ranked 140th of 326
Density 364 /km2 (940 /sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-IOW
ONS code 00MW
GSS code E06000046
Member of Parliament Andrew Turner
Police Hampshire Constabulary
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
– Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

The Isle of Wight /ˈl əv ˈwt/, known to the ancient Romans as Vectis, is a county and the largest and second most populous island of England. It is located in the English Channel, about 4 mi (6 km) off the coast of Hampshire and is separated from mainland Great Britain by the Solent. The island has several resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.

The history of the Isle of Wight includes a brief period of time as an independent kingdom in the 15th century. Until 1995, like Jersey and Guernsey, the island had a Governor.[n 1]

Home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes, the island has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world's first hovercraft, and the testing and development of Britain's space rockets. The Isle hosts annual festivals including the Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held.[1] The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.

The Isle of Wight was part of Hampshire until 1890, when it became an independent administrative county. Until 1974 it continued to share its Lord Lieutenant with Hampshire, when it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan ceremonial county which gave it its own Lord Lieutenant and was recognised as a postal county.

The quickest public transport link to the mainland is to and from Southsea (Portsmouth) by hovercraft, while five ferry services shuttle across the Solent.


Early history[]

The Isle of Wight is first mentioned in writing in Geography by Ptolemy.

During the Late Iron Age, the Isle of Wight would appear to have been occupied by the Celtic tribe, the Durotriges - as attested by finds of their coins, for example, the South Wight Hoard,[2][3] and the Shalfleet Hoard.[4]

The Roman historian Suetonius mentions that the entire island was captured by the commander Vespasian, who later became emperor. The remains of at least five Roman villas have been found on the island, including one near Gurnard which is submerged.

At the end of the Roman Empire, the island of Vectis became a Jutish kingdom ruled by King Stuf and his successors until AD 661 when it was invaded by Wulfhere of Mercia and forcibly converted to Christianity. When he left for Mercia the islanders reverted to paganism.

In AD 685 it was invaded by Caedwalla of Wessex and can be considered to have become part of Wessex. The resistance to the invasion was led by the local King Arwald and after he was defeated and slain, at Caedwalla's insistence, Wight became the last part of England to convert to Christianity in AD 686.[5][6][7] Following Alfred the Great's (reigned 871 - 899) making of the West Saxon kings the kings of all England, it then became part of England. The island became part of the shire of Hampshire and was divided into hundreds as was the norm. From this time the island suffered especially from Viking predations. Alfred the Great's navy defeated the Danes in 871 after they had "ravaged Devon and the Isle of Wight".

Middle Ages[]

Carisbrooke Castle just outside of Carisbrooke

The Norman Conquest created the position of Lord of the Isle of Wight. Carisbrooke Priory and the fort of Carisbrooke Castle were founded. The island did not come under full control of the Crown until it was sold by the dying last Norman Lord, Lady Isabella de Fortibus, to Edward I in 1293.

In 1374, the Castilian fleet, led by Fernán Sánchez de Tovar, the 1st Lord of Belves, sacked and burned the island.

The Lordship thereafter became a royal appointment, with a brief interruption when Henry de Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick was in 1444 crowned King of the Isle of Wight,[8] with King Henry VI assisting in person at the ceremony, placing the crown on his head. With no male heir, the regal title expired on the death of Henry de Beauchamp in 1446.

The French landed an invasion force on the island on 21 July 1545 but were rapidly repulsed by local militia. English ships were engaged in battle with the French navy, and it was two days earlier, on 19 July, that the Mary Rose was sunk.

Henry VIII, who developed the Royal Navy and its permanent base at Portsmouth, fortified the island at Yarmouth, Cowes, East Cowes, and Sandown. Much later, after the Spanish Armada in 1588, the threat of Spanish attacks remained and the outer fortifications of Carisbrooke Castle were built between 1597 and 1602.

Civil War[]

During the English Civil War King Charles fled to the Isle of Wight, believing he would receive sympathy from the governor, Robert Hammond. Hammond was appalled, and imprisoned the king in Carisbrooke Castle. Charles had originally intended to flee to Jersey, but became lost in the New Forest and missed the boat.

Seven Years War[]

Osborne House and its grounds are now open to the public

Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight, 1875 painting by Berthe Morisot.

During the Seven Years' War, the Island was used as a staging post for British troops departing on expeditions against the French coast such as the Raid on Rochefort. During 1759 with a planned French invasion imminent, a large force of soldiers was kept there so they could be moved at speed to any destination on the Southern English coast. The French called off their invasion following the Battle of Quiberon Bay. A later French invasion plan involved a landing on the Isle of Wight.[9]

Queen Victoria[]

Queen Victoria made Osborne House on the Isle of Wight her summer home for many years and, as a result, it became a major holiday resort for fashionable Victorians including Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Dickens (who wrote much of David Copperfield there) as well as the French painter Berthe Morisot and members of European royalty.

During her reign, in 1897, the world's first radio station[10] was set up by Marconi, at the Needles Battery, at the western tip of the island.

Modern history[]

During the Second World War the island was frequently bombed. With its proximity to France the island also had a number of observation stations and transmitters, and was the starting-point for one of the earlier Operation Pluto pipelines to feed fuel to the Normandy landings.

The Needles battery was used as the site for testing and development of the Black Arrow and Black Knight space rockets, subsequently launched from Woomera, Australia.

The Isle of Wight Festival was a very large rock festival that took place near Afton Down, West Wight in 1970, following two smaller concerts in 1968 and 1969. The 1970 show was notable both for being one of the last public performances by Jimi Hendrix and for the number of attendees reaching, by many estimates, 600,000.[11] The festival was revived in 2002 in a different format and is now an annual event.

Physical geography and wildlife[]

Isle of Wight Map

The Isle of Wight is roughly diamond-shaped and covers an area of 380 km2, nearly 150 sq.miles. Slightly more than half of the island, mainly in the west, is designated as the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The island has 258 km2 of farmland, 52 km2 of developed areas, and 57 miles of coastline. The landscape of the island is diverse, leading to its oft-quoted description of "England in Miniature". West Wight is predominantly rural, with dramatic coastlines dominated by the chalk downland ridge, running across the whole island and ending in the Needles stacks—perhaps the most photographed place on the Isle of Wight. The south western quarter is commonly referred to as the Back of the Wight because it has a unique social and historical background. The highest point on the island is St Boniface Down, at 241 metres (791 ft),[12] which is a marilyn.

A view of the Needles and Alum Bay

The rest of the Island's landscape also has great diversity, with perhaps the most notable habitats being the soft cliffs and sea ledges, which are scenic features and also very important for wildlife, and are internationally protected. The River Medina flows north into the Solent, whilst the other main river, the Eastern Yar flows roughly north-east, emerging at Bembridge Harbour at the eastern end of the island. There is another river in the west of the island called the Western Yar, flowing the short distance from Freshwater Bay to a relatively large estuary at Yarmouth.

The south coast of the island borders the English Channel. Without man's intervention the sea might well have split the island into three; at the west end where a bank of pebbles separates Freshwater Bay from the marshy backwaters of the Western Yar east of Freshwater, and at the east end where a thin strip of land separates Sandown Bay from the marshy basin of the Eastern Yar, east of Sandown. Yarmouth itself was effectively an island, only connected to the rest of the island by a regularly breached neck of land immediately east of the town.

The Isle of Wight is one of the few places in England where the red squirrel is flourishing, with a stable population (Brownsea Island is another), and unlike most of England, no grey squirrels are to be found on the island.[13] There are occasional sightings of deer at large in the wild on the island[14][15][16] Rare and protected species such as the dormouse and many rare bats can be found. The Glanville Fritillary butterfly's distribution in the United Kingdom is largely restricted to the edges of the crumbling cliffs of the Isle of Wight.

A competition in 2002 named the Pyramidal Orchid as the Isle of Wight's county flower.[17]

The island has one of the most important areas in Europe for dinosaur fossils. The eroding cliffs often reveal previously hidden remains particularly along the region known as the Back of the Wight.


Being one of the most southerly parts of the UK, the Isle of Wight has a milder sub-climate than most other areas, which makes it a popular holiday destination, particularly the resorts in the south east of the island. It also has a longer growing season than most other areas in the UK. The mean temperature is 13 degrees Celsius averaged over the whole year, and is 18 degrees in July and August. The microclimate of places such as Lower Ventnor is influenced by their sheltered position under the cliffs. The Isle of Wight is also sunnier than most parts of the UK and Western Europe, with 1800–2100 hours of sunshine a year, more than areas of northern Spain.[18]

Climate data for Isle of Wight
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9
Average low °C (°F) 3
Precipitation mm (inches) 89


Geological map

Blackgang Chine circa 1910

The Isle of Wight is made up of a wide variety of different rock types ranging from early Cretaceous times (around 127 million years ago) to the middle of the Palaeogene (around 30 million years ago). The northern half of the island is mainly made up of Tertiary clays, with the southern half formed of Cretaceous rocks (the chalk that forms the central east-west downs, as well as Upper and Lower Greensands and Wealden strata).

All the rocks found on the island are sedimentary – made up of mineral grains from previously existing rocks. These are consolidated to form the rocks that can be seen on the island today, such as limestone, mudstone and sandstone. Rocks on the island are very rich in fossils and many of these can be seen exposed on the beaches as the cliffs erode. Lignitic coal is present in small quantities in seams on the cliffs and shore at Whitecliff Bay and fossilised molluscs have been found there.

Dinosaur bones and footprints can be seen in and on the rocks exposed around the island's beaches, especially at Yaverland and Compton Bay. As a result, the isle has been nicknamed Dinosaur Island.

Along the northern coast of the island there is a rich source of fossilised shellfish, crocodiles, turtles and mammal bones. The youngest of these date back to around 30 million years ago.

The geological structure is dominated by a large monocline which causes the marked change in age of strata from the northern younger Tertiary beds to the older Cretaceous beds of the south. This gives rise to a dip of almost 90 degrees in the chalk beds, seen best at the Needles.

About 10,000 years ago, the great ice sheets of the last Ice Age melted and the sea level rose. Probably about 7,000 years ago, the Isle of Wight became separated from the mainland.


In 2010 the Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight Andrew Turner at Downing Street.

With a single Member of Parliament and 132,731 permanent residents in 2001, it is the most populous parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom (more than 50% above the average of English constituencies).[n 2][19] Parliament has passed Section 11, Clause 6(1) of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 to alter this.[n 3]

The Isle of Wight is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county. Since the abolition of its two borough councils in 1995 and the restructuring of the county council as the Isle of Wight Council, it has been a unitary county.

As a constituency of the House of Commons, it is traditionally a battleground between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The current Member of Parliament Andrew Turner is a Conservative, and his predecessor Dr Peter Brand was a Liberal Democrat.

The Isle of Wight Council election of 2013 saw the Conservative Party lose the majority which they had held since 2005 to the Island Independents. Independent councillors currently hold 20 of the 40 seats in the council.[21]

There have been small regionalist movements: the Vectis National Party and the Isle of Wight Party; but they have attracted little support in elections.

Main towns[]

High Street of Newport, the county town.

  • Newport, in the centre of the Island, is the county town of the Isle of Wight and the Island's main shopping area. Located next to the River Medina, Newport Quay was a busy port until the mid 19th century.
  • Ryde, the island's largest town with a population of around 30,000, is in the north east of the island. It is a Victorian town with the oldest seaside pier in England, pier and miles of beaches. Ryde is also home to the ice hockey club Wightlink Raiders, who play in the third-tier English National Ice Hockey League.
  • Cowes is the location of the annual Cowes Week and an international sailing centre. It is also the home of the record-setting sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur.
  • East Cowes is famous for Osborne House, Norris Castle and as the home from 1929 to 1964 of Saunders-Roe, the historic aircraft, flying boat, rocket and hovercraft company.
  • Sandown is another popular seaside resort. It is home to the Isle of Wight Zoo, the Dinosaur Isle geological museum and one of the island's two 18-hole golf courses.
  • Shanklin, just south of Sandown, also attracts tourists, with its high summer sunshine levels, sandy beaches, Shanklin Chine and the old village.
  • Ventnor, built on the steep slopes of St Boniface Down on the south coast of the island, leads down to a picturesque bay that attracts many tourists. Ventnor Haven is a small harbour built around a Victorian-style bandstand.

Graveyard on the grounds of the church in the town of Brading, Isle of Wight


Language and dialect[]

The accent of the Isle of Wight is similar to the traditional dialect of Hampshire, featuring the dropping of some consonants and an emphasis on longer vowels. It is similar to the West Country dialects heard in SW England, but less removed in sound from the Estuary English of the SE. As with many other traditional southern English regional dialects and accents, a strong island accent is not now commonly heard, and, as speakers tend to be older, this decline is likely to continue.

The island also has its own local and regional words. Some words, including grockle (visitor, tourist – hence grockle-can, tour coach) and nipper/nips (a younger male person), are still commonly used and are shared with neighbouring areas of the mainland. A few are unique to the island, for example overner (a mainlander who has settled on the island) and caulkhead (someone born on the island and born from long-established island stock). Other words are more obscure and now used mainly for comic emphasis, such as mallishag (meaning "caterpillar") and nammit ("no meat", from the lunch of bread and cheese farm workers ate). Some other words are gurt meaning "large", and gallybagger ("scarecrow").[22]


There has been and still is some confusion between the identities of the Isle of Wight as a separate county and, as it once was, a part of the nearby county of Hampshire. At least one mainstream newspaper article as recently as 2008 refers to the "Isle of Wight in Hampshire".[23] Prior to 1890, the Isle of Wight was normally regarded and was administered as a part of Hampshire. With the formation of the Isle of Wight County Council in 1890, the distinct identity became officially established: see also Politics of the Isle of Wight. In January 2009, the new Flag of the Isle of Wight, the first general flag for the county, was accepted by the Flag Institute.[24] Denizens of the Isle of Wight are sometimes referred to as 'Vectensians', 'Vectians' or "caulkheads".



The Isle of Wight is well known for its cycling, with it reaching the top ten in Lonely Planet Best in Travel Guide (2010) for cycling locations. The Island is also host to events such as the Isle of Wight Randonnée and the Isle of Wight Cycling Festival, which are hosted annually. There are cycling clubs such as Vectis Roads Cycling Club, which hosts mainly time trials on the Island, also including an annual 3 Day Time Trial Festival on a bank holiday weekend in May.


There are rowing clubs at Newport, Ryde and Shanklin.

In June 1998 a group of ladies from the Isle of Wight made history by becoming the first team of ladies to row around the Island in a fixed seat Solent Galley. They completed their trip in 10 hours and twenty minutes. Their team photo is on show in Ryde Rowing Club.

Rowers from Ryde Rowing Club have rowed around the island on a number of other occasions the first being 1880. The 4s record was set 16 August 1995 at 7 hours and 57 minutes by a Ryde crew.

Two rowers from Southampton ARC (Chris Bennett and Roger Slaymaker) set the 2 man record in July 2003 at 8 hours and 34 minutes and in 2006 Gus McKechnie of Coalporters rowing club completed a clockwise row as part of a 4s crew making him the only person to have rowed around both ways.

The route around the Island is some 60+ miles usually anti clockwise and involves even in good conditions a number of notable obstacles including the Needles Rocks and the overfalls at St Catherines point. Start and finish points were traditionally Ryde Rowing club however other start points have been chosen in recent years that give tidal advantages.


Boats in the marina during Cowes Week

Cowes is a centre for sailing, playing host to several racing regattas. Cowes Week is the longest-running regular regatta in the world, with over 1,000 yachts and 8,500 competitors taking part in over 50 classes of yacht racing.[25] In 1851 the first America's Cup race took place around the island. Other major sailing events hosted in Cowes include the Fastnet race, the Round the Island Race,[26] the Admiral's Cup, and the Commodore's Cup.[27]


There are two main trampoline clubs on the island, in Freshwater and Newport, competing at regional, national and international grades.


The Isle of Wight Marathon is the United Kingdom's oldest continuously held marathon, having been run every year since 1957.[28] Since 2013 the course starts in Cowes, passing through Gurnard, Rew Street, Porchfield, Shalfleet, Yarmouth, Afton, Willmingham, Thorley, Wellow, Shalfleet, Porchfield, and Northwood before finishing back in Cowes. It is an undulating course with a total climb of 1,043 feet.


The Island is home to the Isle of Wight Islanders speedway team, who compete in the sport's third division, the National League. The club was founded in 1996, with a first-night attendance of 1,740.

Ice hockey[]

The Island is also home to the Wightlink Raiders, an ice hockey team based at Ryde Arena. They compete in the 1st Tier of the English National Ice Hockey League, the 3rd Division in the country. There is also an amateur team the Vectis Tigers of the 2nd Tier English National Ice Hockey League, and four youth teams including the Isle of Wight Wildcats, all based at Ryde Arena.


Following an amalgamation of the hockey clubs on the Isle of Wight in 2011, The Isle of Wight Hockey Club now runs two men's senior teams and two ladies' senior teams. These teams compete at a range of levels in the Hampshire open leagues and welcome players of all abilities to join their training sessions on Wednesday evenings. There is also a comprehensive junior set up who train on Mondays and compete in competitions in the U12 and U14 age group.


The now-disbanded Ryde Sports F.C. founded in 1888 and became one of the eight founder members of the Hampshire League in 1896. There are several other non-league clubs such as Newport (IW) F.C. There is an Isle of Wight Saturday Football League with three divisions, and a rugby union club,[29] plus various other sporting teams.[30] Beach football is particularly prevalent on the island and has several of the nation's premier clubs with almost all of the England Beach Soccer team made up from players from the island. Many of the stadiums are used when the island hosts the Island Games as it has done twice.


Newclose County Cricket Ground

The Isle of Wight is the 39th official county in English cricket, and the Isle of Wight Cricket Board organise an internal cricket league between various local clubs. Ventnor Cricket Club compete in the Southern Premier League, and have won the Second Division several times in recent years. There is a new County Ground near Newport,[31][32][33] which held its first match on 6 September 2008.[34] As of November 2010, the Isle of Wight Cricket Board have been in discussion with the Minor Counties Cricket Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board regarding proposals to enter a side in the Minor Counties tournaments.[35] The island has recently produced some notable cricketers, such as Danny Briggs, who plays county cricket for Hampshire County Cricket Club and is a member of the England Lions. Hampshire have played a number of first-class matches on the island, at J Samuel White's Ground (originally built and owned by J. Samuel White Shipbuilders) and the Victoria Recreation Ground.

Island Games[]

The Isle of Wight competes in the biennial Island Games, which it hosted in 1993 and again in 2011 with events taking place across the island.

Motor Scooter[]

Riders and passengers waiting for the ferry after the Isle of Wight scooter rally in August 1983

The annual Isle of Wight International Scooter Rally convenes on August Bank Holiday, having begun in 1980. This gathering is one of the biggest scooter rallies in the world, now attracting between four to seven thousand participants.[36]


The crowd at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is believed to have been 600,000

The Isle of Wight is home to the Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival. In 1970, with Jimi Hendrix headlining, the festival attracted an audience of 700,000, despite the island itself having a population of roughly 100,000.[37] The Isle of Wight is also the home of the band The Bees. Recently they have been having more national success and often perform at smaller concerts on the island. The band Trixie's Big Red Motorbike[38] as well as Mark King of Level 42 also came from the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight has also hosted a one day festival called 'Summer Madness'. It started in 2009 when Madness headlined it; in 2010 Paul Weller headlined. In January 2011 it was reported that the promoter of Summer Madness was insolvent. The Isle Of Wight is also home to 'Platform One: College Of Music', which offers a national BTEC diploma level 2 & level 3 in music and they're currently the only educational institute to offer a BA hons degree course (Commercial Music), as part of The University of Chichester.


This is a table of the trend in regional gross value added by the Isle of Wight economy at current basic prices by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of pounds.[39]

Year Regional Gross Value added[40] Agriculture[41] Industry[42] Services[43]
1995 831 28 218 585
2000 1,202 27 375 800
2003 1,491 42 288 1,161

Industry and agriculture[]

The largest industry on the Isle of Wight is tourism, but the Island has a strong agricultural heritage, including sheep and dairy farming and the growing of arable crops. Traditional agricultural commodities are more difficult to market off the island because of transport costs, but island farmers have managed successfully to exploit some specialist markets. The high price of these products overcomes the transport costs. One of the most successful agricultural sectors at present is the growing of crops under cover, particularly salad crops, including tomatoes and cucumbers. The Isle of Wight has a longer growing season than much of the United Kingdom and this also favours such crops. Garlic has been successfully grown in Newchurch for many years, and is even exported to France. This has led to the establishment of an annual Garlic Festival at Newchurch, which is one of the largest events of the island's annual calendar. The favourable climate has led to the success of vineyards, including one of the oldest in the British Isles, at Adgestone near Sandown.[44] Lavender is also grown for its oil.[45] The largest sector of agriculture has been dairying, but due to low milk prices, and strict UK legislation for UK milk producers, the dairy industry has declined. There were nearly one-hundred and fifty dairy producers of various sizes in the mid-eighties, but this has now dwindled down to just twenty-four. Due to modern farming practices, the Island has noted increased levels of pesticide poisoning in local farmers and other local residents living near crops and vineyards.[46]

The making of sailcloth, boats and other connected maritime industry has long been associated with the island, although this has somewhat diminished in recent years. Cowes is still home to various small marine-related companies such as boat-builders.

Although they have reduced the extent of the plants and workforce, including the sale of the main site, GKN operates what was once the British Hovercraft Corporation a subsidiary of, and known latterly, when manufacturing focus changed, as Westland Aircraft. Prior to its purchase by Westland, it was the independent company known as Saunders-Roe. It remains one of the most notable historic firms, having produced many of the flying boats, and the world's first hovercraft.

The island's major manufacturing activity today is in composite materials, used by boat-builders and the wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, which has a wind turbine blade factory and testing facilities in Newport and East Cowes.

Bembridge Airfield is the home of Britten-Norman, manufacturers of the Islander and Trislander aircraft. This is shortly to become the site of the European assembly line for Cirrus light aircraft. The Norman Aeroplane Company is a smaller aircraft manufacturing company operating in Sandown. There are have been three other aircraft manufacturers that built planes on the island.[47]

In 2005, Northern Petroleum began exploratory drilling for oil, with its Sandhills-2 borehole at Porchfield but ceased operations in October that year, after failing to find significant reserves.


There are three breweries on the island. Goddards Brewery in Ryde opened in 1993.[48] David Yates, who was head brewer of the Island Brewery, started brewing as Yates Brewery at the Inn at St Lawrence in 2000.[49] The Island Brewery, located in Shalfleet, was formed in 2010 by Tom Minshull to compliment the existing family run drinks wholesale business.

Ventnor Brewery, which closed in 2009, was the last incarnation of Burt's Brewery, which had been brewing on the island since the 1840s in Ventnor.[50] Until the 1960s most pubs were owned by Mews Brewery sited in Newport near the old railway station, but it closed and the pubs taken over by Strong's and then by Whitbread. By some accounts Mews beer was apt to be rather cloudy and dark. They pioneered the use of cans in the 19th century for export to British India. The old brewery was derelict for many years but was then severely damaged in a spectacular fire.


Tourism and heritage[]

The heritage of the island is a major asset, which has for many years kept its economy going. Holidays focused on natural heritage, including both wildlife and geology, are becoming a growing alternative to the traditional British seaside holiday, which went into decline in the second half of the 20th century, due to the increased affordability of air travel to alternative destinations.

Compton Chine, looking east towards Blackgang

Tourism is still the largest industry on the island. In 1999, the 130,000 island residents were host to 2.7 million visitors. Of these, 1.5 million stayed overnight, and 1.2 million visits were day visits. Only 150,000 of these visitors were international visitors. Between 1993 and 2000, visits increased at a rate of 3% per year, on average.[51]

At the turn of the 19th century the island had ten pleasure piers including two at Ryde and a "chain pier" at Seaview. The Victoria Pier in Cowes succeeded the earlier Royal Pier but was itself removed in 1960. The piers at Ryde, Seaview, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor originally served a coastal steamer service that operated from Southsea on the mainland. The piers at Seaview, Shanklin, Ventnor and Alum Bay were all destroyed by storms during the last century. Today only the railway pier at Ryde and the piers at Sandown, Totland Bay (currently closed to the public) and Yarmouth survive. Blackgang Chine is arguably the oldest theme park in the UK, and one of the oldest in the world.

As well as more traditional tourist attractions, the island is often host to walking holidays[52] or cycling holidays through the attractive scenery. Almost every town and village on the island plays host to hotels, hostels and camping sites. Out of the peak summer season, the island is still an important destination for coach tours from other parts of the United Kingdom and an annual walking festival[53] has attracted considerable interest. The 67 miles (108 km) Isle of Wight Coastal Path follows the coastline as far as possible, deviating onto roads where the route is impassable closer to the sea.

A major contribution to the local economy comes from sailing and marine-related tourism.

Summer Camp at Camp Beaumont is an attraction at the old Bembridge School site.


One of the Wightlink FastCats which provide a high-speed ferry service between Portsmouth and Ryde

A Southern Vectis bus at Newport Bus Interchange

The Isle of Wight has a total of 489 miles (787 km) of roadway. Major roads run between the main island towns, with smaller roads connecting villages. It is one of the few counties in the UK not to have a motorway, although there is a dual carriageway from Coppins Bridge in Newport towards the north of Newport near the island's hospital and prison.

A comprehensive bus network operated by Southern Vectis links most Island settlements, with Newport as the central hub.

The Island's location 5 miles (8 km) off the mainland means that longer-distance transport involves a ferry journey. Car ferry and passenger services are run between the island and the mainland by Wightlink and Red Funnel as well as a hovercraft operated by Hovertravel. The question of a fixed link to the mainland — either a bridge or a tunnel — has been discussed regularly over many years, but no proposal has so far come to fruition.

The Island formerly had its own railway network of over 55 miles, but only one line remains in regular use. The Island Line is part of the United Kingdom's National Rail network, running a little under 9 miles (14 km) from Ryde to Shanklin. The line was opened by the Isle of Wight Railway in 1864, and from 1996 to 2007 was run by the smallest train operating company on the network, Island Line Trains. It is notable for utilising ex-London Underground rolling stock. Branching off the Island Line at Smallbrook Junction is the heritage Isle of Wight Steam Railway, which runs for 5½ miles (8.9 km) to the outskirts of Wootton.

There are currently two airfields for general aviation, Isle of Wight Airport at Sandown and Bembridge Airport.

The Island has over 200 miles (322 km) of cycleways, much of which can be enjoyed by families off-road. Major Trails are

  • The Sunshine Trail, which incorporates Sandown, Shanklin, Godshill, and Wroxall in a 12 miles (19 km) circular route
  • The Troll Trail between Cowes and Sandown (13 miles, 90% off road)
  • The Round the Island Cycle Route, which circumnavigates the island on a reported 62 mile ride

A full list of routes are available here: Isle Cycle The site is constantly updated to add new routes.


All the island telephone exchanges are broadband-enabled, although some areas, such as Arreton, have no broadband access. Some urban areas such as Cowes and Newport are also covered by cable lines.


The Isle of Wight's main local newspaper is the Isle of Wight County Press. It discusses local issues and is published each Friday, or the previous working day if the Friday is a public holiday.

Local, Commercial, Vectis Radio covers the Isle of Wight and across the world as the Islands online Radio Station now Broadcasting from The Riverside Centre Newport Broadcasting since 2010.

The island has one local commercial radio station and also falls within the coverage area of a number of local stations on the near mainland. Isle of Wight Radio has broadcast in the medium-wave band since 1990 and on 107.0 MHz (with three smaller transmitters on 102.0 MHz) FM since 1998, as well as streaming on the Internet.

The island's not-for-profit community radio station opened in 2007, Angel Radio began broadcasting on 91.5 MHz from studios in Cowes from a transmitter near Newport.[54] On 1 February 2009, Wight FM began broadcasting as an Internet radio station. It closed down six months later. This was replaced in February 2010 by Internet station Vectis Radio

Online news sources for the Isle of Wight include On the Wight[55] and The Isle of Wight Chronicle.[56] The Chronicle was originally a best selling island paper in the 1950s.

The island has had community television stations in the past, first TV12 and then Solent TV from 2002 until its closure on 24 May 2007. iWight.TV is a local internet video news channel.

The Isle of Wight is part of the BBC South region and the ITV Meridian region.

Important broadcasting facilities on Isle of Wight are Chillerton Down transmitting station, whose mast is the tallest structure on Isle of Wight and Rowridge transmitting station.


The geography of the island, and its location near the densely populated south of England, led to it hosting three prisons: Albany, Camp Hill and Parkhurst, all located outside Newport near the main road to Cowes. Albany and Parkhurst were among the few Category A prisons in the UK until they were downgraded in the 1990s. The downgrading of Parkhurst was precipitated by a major escape: three prisoners (two murderers and a blackmailer) made their way out of the prison on 3 January 1995 for four days of freedom before being recaptured. Parkhurst especially enjoyed notoriety as one of the toughest jails in the United Kingdom and housed many notable inmates, including the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, New Zealand drug lord Terry Clark and the Kray twins.

Camp Hill is located to the west of, and adjacent to, Albany and Parkhurst, on the very edge of Parkhurst Forest, having been converted first to a borstal and later to a Category C prison. It was built on the site of an army camp (both Albany and Parkhurst were barracks); there is a small estate of tree-lined roads with well-proportioned officers' quarters (of varying grandeur according to rank, but now privately owned) to the south and east. Camp Hill closed as a prison in March 2013.

The management of all three prisons was merged into a single administration, under the name of HMP Isle of Wight in April 2009, with Camp Hill closing in 2013.


There are sixty-nine Local Education Authority-maintained schools on the Isle of Wight, and two independent schools. As a rural community, many of these schools are small, with average numbers of pupils lower than in many urban areas. There are currently primary schools, middle schools and high schools. However, education reforms have led to plans for closures (for full details on these see Education reforms on the Isle of Wight). There is also the Isle of Wight College, which is located on the outskirts of Newport.

From September 2010, there was a transition period from the "3-tier system" of primary, middle and high schools. Some schools have now closed their doors, such as Chale C.E. Primary School. Other schools have become "federated", such as Brading C.E. Primary School and St Helen's Primary School. Christ the King College started as a "middle school" but has now been converted into a secondary school and sixth form.

As of September 2011, there are 5 new secondary schools with an age range of 11 to 18 years which have replaced the island's High Schools (as a part of the previous 3-tier system).

Notable residents[]

Notable residents have included:

  • Raymond Allen, scriptwriter
  • Indie rock group the Bees are from the Isle of Wight.
  • E. Power Biggs, concert organist
  • Keegan Brown, (dart player) World Youth Champion and Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finalist
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, a Victorian portrait and creative photographer, lived at Dimbola Lodge, which is now a museum dedicated to her work.
  • Charles I of England was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle
  • Irish Republican Thomas Clarke
  • Sir Christopher Cockerell, inventor of the hovercraft, lived in East Cowes while it was being developed by Saunders-Roe
  • Jeremiah Coghlan CB heroic naval Captain of the Napoleonic era, retired to Ryde, where he died in 1844
  • Ray Cokes, MTV presenter and actor
  • Charles Dickens rented Winterbourne, in Bonchurch in the summer of 1849
  • Cardell 'Scum' Goodman, late 17th century actor, murderer, highwayman and Jacobite conspirator, was the son of Robert Hooke's father's predecessor as vicar of Freshwater.
  • Marius Goring, actor, lived on the Island as a child - he was born in Newport
  • Bear Grylls, survival expert, motivational speaker and Chief Scout.
  • Sheila Hancock, actress
  • Thomas Harrison, Regicide of Charles I and Fifth Monarchist leader was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle by Cromwell as were other Fifth Monarchy Men, John Rogers and Christopher Feake.
  • Peter de Heyno, defended the Carisbrooke Castle 1377 against French / Castilian troops
  • Robert Hooke, a 17th-century natural philosopher and polymath
  • Geoffrey Hughes, English actor was its Deputy Lieutenant.[57]
  • Kieran Page - Professional Road and Track Cyclist
  • David Icke, TV presenter, author, conspiracy theorist
  • Jeremy Irons, actor
  • Phill Jupitus, comedian
  • Laura Michelle Kelly, Olivier Award-winner for her role as Mary Poppins in the world premiere of the Mary Poppins musical and film actress playing Lucy Barker in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd
  • Mimi Khalvati, Iranian poet was educated at Upper Chine School, near Shanklin
  • Stuart Hobday, singer with '60s band Mike Stuart Span and BBC Radio 2 producer
  • Mark King, lead singer and bassist for '80s/'90s pop-funk band Level 42.
  • Allan Lake, radio presenter
  • John Milne, geologist and mining engineer, credited with inventing the horizontal pendulum seismograph.
  • Anthony Minghella, Academy Award–winning film director, playwright and screenwriter
  • David Niven, Actor, Novelist.
  • Miss Harriett Parr, Victorian novelist, lived at Whitwell House in Shanklin.[58]
  • Henry Sewell, first Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne, Victorian poet, spent his boyhood at his parents' home East Dene, in Bonchurch.
  • Alfred Tennyson, who was Poet Laureate to Queen Victoria, lived at Freshwater and became Baron Tennyson of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight.
  • Alan Titchmarsh, a British gardener, was High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight in 2008-09.[59]
  • Guglielmo Marconi, inventor and Nobel Prize winner, lived in Marconi Cottage at St. Catherine's Lighthouse in late 1890. He transmitted the first wireless message across open water from Alum Bay in Totland in 1897.[60]
  • Anneka Rice, TV personality
  • Kelly Sotherton, Olympic heptathlete
  • Ellen MacArthur, solo and long-distance yachtswoman.
  • Mark Fox, businessman and journalist.
  • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (monarchs), built and lived at Osborne House

Places of interest[]

AP Icon.PNG Abbey/Priory/Cathedral
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Themepark uk icon.JPG Amusement/Theme Park
CL icon.PNG Castle
Country Park Country Park
EH icon.png English Heritage
FC icon.png Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Museum (free)
Museums (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust
Zoo icon.JPG Zoo
  • Alum Bay
  • Appuldurcombe House English Heritage
  • Amazon World Zoo
  • Bembridge Lifeboat Station
  • Blackgang Chine Theme Park
  • Brading Roman Villa Museum
  • Carisbrooke Castle English Heritage Castle, where King Charles I was imprisoned
  • Classic Boat Museum, East Cowes Museum
  • Dimbola Lodge Museum, home of Victorian photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron
  • Dinosaur Isle Museum
  • Fort Victoria Country Park
  • Godshill village and model village
  • Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum Museum
  • Isle of Wight Steam Railway Heritage Railway
  • Isle of Wight Zoo, Yaverland zoo
  • Medina Theatre, home to the island's entertainment including music and performances.
  • The Needles National Trust, which is near "The Old Battery" museum and Old Look-out Tower tea-room
  • Osborne House English Heritage, where Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert had a country residence
  • Quarr Abbey abbey
  • Robin Hill Country Park
  • Botanic Gardens, Ventnor
  • Yarmouth Castle English Heritage Castle, associated with King Henry VIII

Overseas names[]

The Isle of Wight has given its names to many parts of former colonies, most notably Isle of Wight County in Virginia founded by settlers from the island in the 17th century. Its county seat is a town named Isle of Wight.

Other notable examples include:

  • Isle of Wight - an island off Maryland, USA
  • Dunnose Head, West Falkland
  • Ventnor, Cowes on Philip Island, Victoria, Australia
  • Carisbrook, Seaview, Victoria, Australia
  • Ryde, New South Wales, Australia
  • Shanklin, Sandown, New Hampshire, USA
  • Ventnor City, New Jersey, USA
  • Gardiners Island, New York, USA shown as "Isle of Wight" on some of the older maps.[61]

Media references[]

  • The Northumbrian scholar, Bede, recorded the arrival of Christianity on the Isle of Wight in the year 686, when the population was massacred and replaced by Christians.[62]
  • The Beatles' song "When I'm Sixty-Four", written by Paul McCartney, refers to renting a cottage on the Isle of Wight.[63]
  • The Isle of Wight is called The Island in some editions of Thomas Hardy's novels in his fictional Wessex.
  • There is a running joke in radio sitcom The Navy Lark involving Sub-Lieutenant Phillips's inability to navigate and subsequently tail "the Isle of Wight ferry".
  • The Isle of Wight is the setting of Julian Barnes's novel England, England.
  • The island also features in John Wyndham's novel The Day of the Triffids and Simon Clark's sequel to it, The Night of the Triffids.
  • Bob Dylan recorded the songs "Like a Rolling Stone", "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)", "Minstrel Boy", and "She Belongs to Me" for the album Self Portrait live on the Isle of Wight.
  • The 1980 dramatisation of Dennis Potter's work Blade on the Feather was filmed on the Island.
  • The Isle of Wight is the setting in D.H. Lawrence's book The Trespasser, filmed for television in 1981 on location.
  • In the 1966 novel Colossus, the entire island is selected for the development of a new base by the supercomputer, Colossus.
  • The Isle of Wight is the setting of Graham Masterton's book Prey.
  • Parts of Frágiles (Fragile: A Ghost Story), a 2005 film starring Calista Flockhart, were filmed on the island.
  • Mrs. Brown - 1997 - with Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly was filmed at Osborne and Chale.
  • The 1973 British film That'll Be the Day starring David Essex and Ringo Starr included scenes shot in Ryde (notably Cross Street) and Shanklin (beach).
  • Something to Hide - 1972 - (US title Shattered) starring Peter Finch was filmed near Cowes. There is also a scene on the Red Funnel ferry.
  • Karl Marx visited the Isle of Wight on numerous occasions while he was writing the Communist Manifesto.
  • The Commodore 64 game 'Spirit of the Stones' by John Worsley was set on the Isle of Wight.[64]
  • The song "Island in the Rain", by The Men They Couldn't Hang is about the Isle of Wight.
  • In S.M. Stirling's novel The Protector's War, in which all high energy technology ceased to function, the Isle of Wight became the refuge of the British monarchy and government. After the holocaust that followed, the island was the base for re-population of England and the European mainland whose populations had perished except for cannibals and savages.
  • The island is the setting of Jane Feather's novel, "The Least Likely Bride."
  • The island is featured as the location of Vectis Abbey in Glenn Cooper's novels Library of the Dead and Book of Souls.
  • A manga in the Strike Witches series, Strike Witches: One-Winged Witches, focuses on the Isle of Wight Detachment Group and is set on the island.
  • The Simulator video games Ship Simulator 2008 and Ship Simulator Extremes feature the Isle of Wight as a playable region, and the passenger ferries MV Red Eagle and Red Jet 4 and a Hovertravel Hovercraft as playable ships.
  • It was mentioned in the first Harry Potter book where it refers to Uncle Vernon's sister Marge, who was on holiday on the island and got sick after eating a funny whelk.

See also[]

Portal.svg Isle of Wight
  • List of civil parishes on the Isle of Wight
  • List of places on the Isle of Wight
  • List of High Sheriffs of the Isle of Wight
  • List of Lord Lieutenants of the Isle of Wight
  • List of Governors of the Isle of Wight
  • Isle of Wight gasification facility
  • Isle of Wight Rifles
  • Wight, one of the sea areas of the British Shipping Forecast, named after the island.
  • Yaverland Battery


  1. ^ As well as the former Princess Beatrice during World War II, most otherwise notable was Lord Mountbatten 1969-1974, after which he became Lord Lieutenant until his assassination in 1979.
  2. ^ In 1832 the Act popularly referred to as the Great Reform Act or Reform Act of 1832 established a single MP for the Isle of Wight rather than six until that date, including four for the two rotten boroughs which made it per capita more over-represented than Cornwall which had at least five rotten boroughs.
  3. ^ This states; "There shall be two constituencies in the Isle of Wight." For background debate see:[20]


  1. ^ "Isle of Wight Festival history". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Williams, Jonathan; Hill, J.D.[1], Portable Antiquities Scheme, Record ID: IOW-38B400.
  3. ^ The Isle of Wight Ingot Hoard [2] The Art Fund
  4. ^ Leins,Ian; Joy, Jody; Basford, Frank [3], Portable Antiquities Scheme, Record ID: IOW-EAAFE2.
  5. ^ Saxon Graves at Shalfleet, Isle of Wight History Centre, August 2005
  6. ^ "England, A Narrative History, Peter N. Williams". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  7. ^ The English Accept Christianity, The Story of England, Samuel B. Harding
  8. ^ William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland and Ireland (London, 1610)
  9. ^ Longmate, Norman. Island Fortress: The Defence of Great Britain, 1603–1945. London, 2001. p.186-88
  10. ^ "The origins of radio". Connected Earth. 18 January 1903. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Movies". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Staff writer(s); no by-line (1987–2012). "St Boniface Down, England". Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Operation Squirrel". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  14. ^ "Deer could damage Island warning". 17 August 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Natural History of Red Deer". Wildlife Online. 27 April 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "County flowers". Plantlife. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  18. ^ Isle of Wight Climate Statistics
  19. ^ "Turner Will Fight On For 'Unique' Island Status". Isle of Wight Chronicle. 6 July 2010. "The Isle of Wight currently has 110,000 voters and, in order to fit in with the new rules, there would be one MP representing the majority of the island but with over 34,000 voters taken from the current island constituency and added onto the mainland." 
  20. ^ "Isle of Wight Set To Have Two MPs in 2015". Isle of Wight Chronicle. 15 February 2011. "Andrew Turner is delighted to announce that the Isle of Wight is now set to have two MPs after the next election (due in 2015), following discussions last night with the Government about how the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill would affect the Isle of Wight." 
  21. ^ "Isle of Wight council results". BBC News. 29 April 2013. 
  22. ^ Lavers, Jack (1988). The Dictionary of the Isle of Wight Dialect. Dovecote Press. ISBN 0-946159-63-7. 
  23. ^ "Oiled birdsbirds may be linked to Ice Prince sinking". The Daily Telegraph (UK). 16 January 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  24. ^ "Flag institute". Flag institute. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  25. ^ "Skandia Cowes Week 2008 – Welcome". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  26. ^ "JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  27. ^ "Rolex Commodores' Cup – Home". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  28. ^ "Isle Of Wight Marathon Race". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  29. ^ "The Isle has produced several high profile players including Kevin "The Hitman" Broderick, now playing for a local Sunday side. Isle Of Wight Rugby Football Club". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Isle of Wight County Cricket Ground". Isle of Wight Cricket Board. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  32. ^ Southern Premier Cricket League – Construction work underway on new island county ground
  33. ^ "Newclose: Cricket Scoreboard Arrives | Isle of Wight News". Ventnor Blog. 10 July 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  34. ^ "Newclose County Cricket Ground Open Days". Isle of Wight Cricket Board. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  35. ^ Newman, Clare (12 November 2010). "Minor Counties cricket for IW?". Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  36. ^ "Scooter rally takes place on Isle of Wight". 27 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  37. ^ "Concerts with Record Attendance". Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  38. ^ "Trixie's Big Red Motorbike – Discover music, concerts, stats, & pictures at". 11 February 2009.'s+big+red+motorbike. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  39. ^ published (pp.240–253)
  40. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  41. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  42. ^ includes energy and construction
  43. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  44. ^ "Wine for Sale – Vineyard Tours, Isle of Wight". English Wine. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  45. ^ "Isle of Wight lavender farm, lavender products, lavender plants, teas". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  46. ^ "CASE STUDY: Campaigning Against Pesticides". The Ecologist. 6 April 2006. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  47. ^ "A list of aircraft and airplane manufacturers as well as airfields on the Isle of Wight". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  48. ^ "about us". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  49. ^ "Yates' Brewery". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  50. ^ Ventnor Brewery:: Since 1840
  51. ^ "A website with Isle of Wight statistics for investors". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  52. ^ "Isle of Wight walking holidays". Wight Walks. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  53. ^ "Welcome to the official website of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2013". Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  54. ^ ""History of Our Station" and "Gallery"" (Flash). Angel Radio Isle of Wight Website. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  55. ^ "On The Wight". On The Wight. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  56. ^ "The Isle of Wight Chronicle". 5 December 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  57. ^ "Vice Lord-Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenants". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  58. ^ William White (1878) History, Gazetter and Directory of the County of Hampshire. p 497
  59. ^ "Roll of High Sheriffs of the Isle of Wight". Retrieved 16 July 2009. 
  60. ^ "Isle of Wight Holidays". Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  61. ^
  62. ^ "arrival of Christianity". Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  63. ^ "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band". 16 May 1996. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  64. ^ The Lost Talismans of Spirit of the Stones
  • Hansard, Wednesday 14 November 2001 column 850

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