Introduction . Motoring . Transport . Topography . Geology . Climate . History . Literary
Ventnor . esplanade . winter gardens . pier . park . Bonchurch . Walks . St Catherine's . Niton . St Lawrence . Undercliff . St Catherine's Down . Blackgang . Whitwell . Gatcombe . Blackwater . Photographs
Ward Lock published a whole series of informative guide books from the turn of the century, until the 1960's. I have three copies of the Isle of Wight guide books published at different times. It is interesting to note the differences over time. As a prime example of 'nostalgia', I have scanned some extracts from my 1948 edition. There are surprisingly few differences between this version and the pre-war copy; I assume the books were not substantially revised following the war.
The guides give a very distinctive flavour of middle class holidays earlier this century. Why middle class? Well, the 1948 issue sold for five shillings (see note on 'old' money below) which would have been a tidy sum in 1948. In addition, the guides talk of two or three week holidays. Most working class families at this time would be unlikely to take more than one week's paid holiday each year. The author advises travelling first class by train in the evenings to avoid the crowds. Again, something only the well off would have considered at the time. The book also uses much ink in discussion of 'the waters' and 'sanitation' for each resort. Today a good, clean, drinking water supply is taken for granted in Britain, as are good sanitation and drainage. Not so in 1948 apparently. Much of the book concentrates on the quality of the subsoil and the air - both of which were considered important from a health point of view.
This section of the Isle of Wight Nostalgia site is well worth reading. Please don't let the lack of pictures put you off! Before you read the extracts I have included three sections of explanation below, covering spelling & punctuation, 'old' money and copyright.
Having scanned the sections of my copy of the original book, there was lots to do checking and correcting spellings - my scanner software had some trouble with the typeface. There are also a number of words unique to the Island - or at least not standard in a spell checker. In some cases spelling and punctuation differs from current practice. Where this is the case I have left the original unaltered. If you find an error, please by all means email me with the details - in most cases, (hopefully) this will be the fault of the book and not me.
Britain changed to a decimalised system of currency on 15th February 1971. Before this the pound sterling was divided into 20 shillings each of which was made up of 12 pennies (d). In written notation for example, five shillings and sixpence would be written as either 5s. 6d. or 5/6d. Ten shillings as 10s. or 10/-. The pound is now divided into 100 pence (p). So 50p = 10s. The 1948 version of the Ward Lock guide cost 5s. This was a lot of money at the time, but is equivalent to a packet of crisps today at 25p (£0.25 or $0.40). A manual wage for a semi-skilled worker in 1948 was under £10 per week.
Prior to releasing this section of my site, I have been concerned that printing extracts from this book might infringe copyright. I have consulted some authoritative web sources on copyright. While written in legal jargon and somewhat difficult to understand, the situation appears to be that in 1948, an original writing would be protected for 28 years (one today is protected for 50 years). The book makes no reference to copyright; however the legal web site states that any document of original content is copyright, regardless of whether it displays a copyright notice or not. With the 28 year rule in mind, it would appear that the book is out of copyright. I have tried to contact 'Ward Lock' on the internet, but all I get from the search engines are references to 'antiquarian' bookshops! I would hope that if the books were ever re-published, this site would only add to the interest in owning a copy. If you believe my understanding of the law is incorrect, please email me! Incidentally, if you do ever see a copy in a shop, it is well worth owning. Copies sell for between £5 and £20 depending on condition and where you buy them.