2019 Library Talks

6th June 2019  –  IOW Red Squirrel Trust
Talk by Jon and Linda Fishman

Twenty-three members and guests enjoyed this very informative talk which gave a real insight into the life of these amazing little creatures. 

Jon and Linda explained the importance of feeding a balance diet including such things as apple and sweetcorn, but not too many peanuts!  Feeding boxes should be located to provide squirrels with protection from predictors.  Contrary to popular belief they do remember where they bury nuts such as hazel and walnuts although ideally these should be broken down before feeding them.  They are also accomplished swimmers but it’s important that if they fall in they can get out – hence the reservoir at Osborne built by Prince Albert in 1840  has ladders around its perimeter.  At that time there were only red squirrels in the UK, grey squirrels being introduced to Britain in the 1870s.  Jon and Linda showed a map of the UK’s red squirrel population and explained that there is a huge fine for anyone bringing grey squirrels to the Island.  Whilst red squirrels often appear to  be grey in colour they can be distinguished from their grey cousins by their size (reds are a lot smaller), their tails and tuffs on their ears.

Visit https://redquirrelsandnature.blogspot.com

Feedback on the talk by one member stated ‘What a fabulous talk from John and his wife it was not only informative but very entertaining it made my         mother’s 93rd birthday one to remember.  To quote my sister and friend ‘they did not realise there was so much to know about squirrels”‘

A total of £120 was raised which was divided with the Friend of Osborne Charity and the IOW Red Squirrel Trust.

9th May 2019  –  Movements in Isle of Wight Architecture (Part 2) 1930 – 2018
Form, Function and Design by Mark Earp

This was the second in the architectural series of 3 and discussed the post-war development on the island and the radical changes that have taken place in design, function and materials

Mark showed examples of modern houses using a lot of glass and talked about materials and techniques used today to make homes more energy saving. One such example can be found in Seagove Bay between Seaview and Priory Bay which looks out of keeping with all the Edwardian houses facing the sea. It was designed as a replacement for an existing house, has an open plan layout that makes the most of the uninterrupted sea views.


Another less attractive building of the period and one that has now been demolished is the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth.  Designed and built in the Brutalist style it was constructed in the mid-1960s and demolished in 2004.  In the 1980s it was voted the 3rd ugliest building in the UK.

11 April 2019 – Wild Flower Areas At Osborne
Illustrated talk by Toby Beasley

Toby is the Head Gardener at Osborne House. Due to the popularity of the event, Toby gave two talks, one in the morning which he repeated in the afternoon.  Over 50 members and guests enjoyed the interesting and informative illustrated talks.

97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the Second World War but at Osborne they have been actively improving their wildflower areas for the last 25 years. This talk was an insight into the varied wildflower areas of the Osborne estate from the wildflower meadows in front of the terraces, to the woodland rides and touching on the beach foreshore. Toby covered the management of these areas with the intention of improving wildflower diversity and also looked at some of the special wildflowers we have at Osborne.  He explained the varying challenges faced by the different areas, from the dominant grasses of the meadow areas, to the light/shade in the woodlands, to the shifting pebbles on the foreshore.

28 March 2019 – Osborne Royal Naval College
Illustrated talk by Sarah Burdett followed by walk

Due to the popularity of the event, Sarah repeated the talk and guided walk on 19 September 2019.  Again this was fully subscribed and enjoyed by members and their guests.

Friends and guests enjoyed an informative, illustrated talk on the Osborne Royal Naval College given by Sarah Burdett from the East Cowes Heritage Centre.  Following the talk, Sarah led a guided walk in the grounds pointing out areas of interest and features of the Naval College which still remain and those currently being restored.

Originally designed and built by Prince Albert as the stables and coach house for Osborne House in 1861, the site later became the Naval College with the stables being converted into classrooms and the coach house into a dining room.  Dormitories were built on what is now the main carpark and numerous other building were constructed on the estate, some of which are still in existence today.  A chapter in Sarah’s book ‘East Cowes A Town of Ships, Castles, Industry and Inventions’ covers the topic in detail.

This was the first library talk of the year and was oversubscribed.  Sarah has therefore kindly agreed to repeat the talk in September, details of which can be found on the FO Events Page.

The V and A key stone above the arched gateway.

In the corner of the old stable yard, excavations have revealed herringbone brickwork and drainage channels.

The old water towers

Sarah points out where the  Naval College dormitories were located in what is now the main Osborne House carpark. 

The entrance arched gateway to the old stable yard

One of the original tethering rings still in place around the yard.

The mechanism for showing how much water was in the tower can still be seen.

Crest shown either side of the entrance.

Inside the old stable yard.

Sarah explains the plunge pool which has been uncovered and the plans for its restoration.