Tag Archives: isle of wight

QE2 But Probably Not As You Remember Her

I have scanned a lot of old negatives that the family has accumulated over the years including some my mum sent me last year.  Some of those were of the cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth 2 or just QE2 to most people.  We used to see QE2 a lot.  She would sail in and out of Southampton so would pass our place often.  After she returned from the Falklands, she went in for a major refit.  She had to replace a lot of what was taken out when she was used as a troopship as well as remove the helipads that had been welded on her after decks.

One change they made when refitting her was a new paint scheme.  Gone was the black hull and in came a gray color and a red funnel.  It was a strange look and out of keeping with the traditions of Cunard.  I don’t know how long it lasted exactly but a few years later, she was back in the more familiar colors and they remained until she was retired.  One morning she came up the Solent in the fog.  The combination of fog and a gray paint scheme was quite ghostly.  These shots were taken from our window.

Osborne House

I was digging through images for something else and came across some aerial shots I took while flying around the Isle of Wight with my relative and fellow aviation nut, Pete.  We had been flying up to Cowes from the west end of the Island and then turned to go around East Cowes and off towards Ryde.  I grabbed a bunch of shots of Osborne House.  Now managed by English Heritage, it was one of the homes of Queen Victoria.  Not that this is a recommendation for holidaying on the Isle of Wight, but it is where she died.

I think I have shared some photos of it before but these don’t show up in my list of previously posted shots so I thought I would throw these on to the blog to provide some geographical variety and also to cover for the fact that I don’t have a huge amount to post at the moment!

QE2 Sails to the Falklands – A Crappy 110 Shot

My negative scanning exploits have been covered a fair bit on this blog.  Up to now, this has been focused on my 35mm films.  However, when I was a kid, I had a 110 film camera.  This was not what you would consider the pinnacle of photographic technology.  It was a small, plastic camera with a lens that I doubt was up to much.  110 film came in a cartridge and was tiny so you were making an image on a small frame with a dodgy lens and nothing much you could control.

I didn’t know what I was doing so we were destined for great results!  I didn’t understand how much light would be available so would take shots indoors without a flash and be shocked that nothing came out or that it was very blurry.  The viewfinder was offset so you had parallax issues which became apparent when you tried to photograph something up close.  All in all, not great.  However, for general shots, it would give you a result.  Not a good result but a result.

I dug out some of these 110 negatives to see what I could find.  Some of the shots, while not of any quality, are historically significant.  In 1982, we were living in a flat on the waterfront in Cowes.  We had a lovely view across the Solent.  We could see from directly north off to the east.  Part of the building obscured our view to the west but our bathroom had a small window that looked across the roof and could give a less obscured view to the west.  It was from here I photographed the QE2 as she sailed for the Falklands.

She had been requisitioned for the war and went into Southampton to be modified.  The rear decks were cut back and the swimming pools plated over to make helicopter landing pads.  All the nice stuff was taken out and she sailed with 5 Brigade aboard heading for an uncertain future.  She came out Southampton Water, negotiated around Brambles Bank and then came past us and on her way.  At one point a pair of Sea Kings flew over the top.

Canberra’s departure and return were bigger events for us when they happened and I remember them both vividly.  QE2 came back on a school day and I could see her coming up the Solent from the tower building in the center of the school but it was a distant return.  Canberra came back at the weekend and was part of an amazing flotilla as everyone seemed to be out to greet her.  I have no shots of that!

End of the Line for the 38 Stock

Prior to the 1960s, the Isle of Wight had an extensive rail network.  The Beeching cuts reduced it to one line, from Ryde to Shanklin.  It was electrified and the rolling stock was initially old London Underground stock from the 1920s.  This was in use when I was a youngster but it got replaced in the late 80s by the new(er) Class 483s.  These were also London Underground castoffs – this time from the 1938 stock.  They had gone through a modernization program to be used but they were hardly new.

Their time has finally come.  Replacement is underway with “new” stock based on retired District Line trains from London.  See a pattern developing here.  The system is shut down for a while for some significant track upgrades which will allow for a more frequent service.  The track desperately needed work and the old trains were falling apart so, hopefully, this will provide a big improvement.

When I lived on the Island, I didn’t think much about the stuff that was there.  All of these pictures I have taken when visiting more recently.  This is all I have to record the new extinct Island Line stock.  Two examples will be preserved if you want to go and see them!

Car Transporter

The movement of cars around the world requires a specialist type of ship and, while they may be functionally effective, they are not good looking ships.  They have the appearance of a box on the water.  The large rear loading ramp allows the cars to be loaded and then they get driven around the multitude of decks for storage.  This example was coming up the Solent and heading in to Southampton.  A similar example had a shift of load in this area and was put aground on the Brambles Bank to avoid sinking.  No issues in this case, of course.

Three Types of Wightlink Car Ferry

Having traveled on the car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight for all of my life, I have seen many generations of ferry come and go.  The oldest ones I recall are Fishbourne and Camber Queen.  These would amaze current travelers with their limited car capacity and very limited customer amenities.  They were replaced by a bigger and better equipped fleet which were replaced in turn but the fleet of Saint named ferries.  Their time has mainly come and gone and now most have been replaced again.

On this trip, I got to ride of two ferries from the newer generation.  They have  a significant increase in capacity that has required the introduction of two level loading to allow the schedule to be kept.  While traveling on each, I got to see the other heading in the opposite direction along with one of the older Saint class.  The latest ferry has again gone away from bi-directional operation and has also added a hybrid power drive of some sort.  No idea how it works but the large logo on the side leaves you in no doubt that it is there.

Fastnet Race Start in the 90s

We recently had the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet race that ended up with a significant loss of life and boats.  Weather forecasting technology and the methods of communicating were very different forty years ago and some of the boats were ill-suited to open water racing of that nature.  Growing up in Cowes, the Fastnet race was always a big deal.  It was every other year as part of the Admiral’s Cup.  Some of my school friends got to crew on it.  I watched the start of one of the races when we still lived in the UK and I scanned in some of the shots I got that day.  The start was always frantic.  Boats are jockeying for position, often very close to shore.  Lots of shouting goes on.  With a good wind, big sailing boats look so cool to me.

Bristow’s Coastguard AW189

While walking along the waterfront at East Cowes, I heard the noise of an approaching helicopter.  As it got closer, it turned out to be a Coastguard AW189.  I hoped it would come closer and it obliged by flying almost directly over us.  What I didn’t know was that another of the fleet would be at RIAT when I was there a few days later so I was going to get a closer look than this.  Stay tuned for that!

Red Kestrel

The Red Funnel ferries have made appearances on the blog after previous UK trips including this one here.  While we were on the seafront at Cowes, we saw one of the ferries coming in but it looked pretty odd.  It actually looked a lot like the old style of ferries from my youngest days.  There was little upper superstructure and it looked like it was designed for trucks only.  The name was Red Kestrel so a quick google confirmed that this is exactly what it is.  By taking freight traffic, it leaves more space on the main ferries for the car traffic.  Apparently, it has space for about 12 passengers so I guess it is not well appointed!

Precursor to the Lifeboat Posts

There are going to be some lifeboat posts coming up in the coming weeks.  We ended up seeing quite a bit of the RNLI’s work while we were there.  I shall have more detailed posts but these shots are just a warm up act for the posts to come.  I do like the RNLI and they certainly entertained me on this trip!