The Isle of Wight Society

December 2021

Restoration Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight Society is looking for entrants for their 2022 Conservation Awards.

What restoration work have you been doing to your house?  Are you proud of it?  Have the craftsmen or women achieved an excellent result?

Entries could be as small as the repointing of an Island stone wall, done so carefully that it will stand for another 200 years.  I am sure I am among many who have been watching the repointing of the stone wall at the traffic lights diagonally opposite Ryde All Saints Church in Ryde.

In 2021 we awarded several certificates for excellent stone work restoration, with careful pointing between the stones.  Not all of them were in such a prominent position, but all did their part to retain the character of our Island.

Brickwork rather than stone may have featured in your restoration, or in a new extension to an existing property.  Island bricks were made in over one hundred brickyards on the Island – and probably many more that we have no records for.  Local clay fired in different colours, and the intensity of the heat affected this.  Look at a tile from the Roman period and often the centre of the clay is grey, while the outer appearance is pale terracotta due to inadequate firing.

Millfield House Ryde

Alternatively you may have created an entirely new building that blends in with its surroundings, adding to the character of the Island.  We look for buildings that are “good neighbours.”  

This does not necessarily mean that they look old.  A pastiche – a building that exactly copies the neighbouring properties but is built in new materials – does have its place.  Consider Victorian Ventnor.  In a row of old houses opposite the park and bandstand there is a good example of this.  A modern house in that situation would have looked wrong.  Nicholas Place in Newport excellently reflects features of its Victorian neighbours.

However, if we had all built in the same way as previous generations we would all still be living in wooden or wattle and daub huts, and none of the architecture we admire today would ever have been built.

As a Conservation Society, the Isle of Wight Society must look to the future.  What legacy of building are we leaving to our children and grandchildren?  Mitigating features must be included in new building to cope with climate change.  Future planning regulations must insist that new properties have as low a carbon footprint as possible.  Unless we insist on this there will be no future for any future generations.  

Restoring an old building is often the “greenest” option.

Look at the Isle of Wight Society website for details of entering the 2022 Conservation Awards.  Entries close on 1st March 2022.

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Isle of Wight Society
East Cowes Heritage Centre, 8 Clarence Road
East Cowes, PO32 6EP

Tel: +44 (0) 1983 280310

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