to Isle of Wight History Centre Archive of Monthly News Items
As previously featured in the History Centre

January 2018

January 2018

The original planning application sidelined the idea of a museum celebrating the J.S. White shipbuilding heritage. It was hoped the revised application would correct matters but the situation remains the same.
   At the public consultation stage, discussions evolved around establishing a museum on the site that would embrace both shipbuilding and boat building. The shipbuilding element would feature J.S. White and compliment the hammerhead crane. At some point the idea of the museum being part of phase 1 of the development was dropped and the planning application placed it in phase 2. There were some protests at this and it was hoped the revised planning application would reintroduce it in phase 1, but it remains unchanged.
   The problem with phase 2 is that many believe it will never happen. It is only an outline planning application and its emphasis on industrial facilities cannot match the financial rewards arising from the residential and leisure facilities of the initial development. It is also possible that the considerable remedial work required for the land preparation in phase 1 could give rise to unforeseen problems that add to the potential cost of any subsequent development.
   The developer has provided the Classic Boat Museum with a large shed for their new museum and workshop in the phase 2 area facing the crane. If a shipbuilding museum doesn't exist, the likely outcome is that visitors to the site will associate the hammerhead crane with the boat building museum opposite it. This will doubtless suit boating enthusiasts and it is no coincidence the developer and his agent are among their number. Add into the mix the council's general indifference towards industrial heritage and it's easy to see how the pre-planning discussions gave rise to this incongruous situation.
  It is not too late for the council to correct this anomaly and insist on a museum covering J.S. White being established in phase 1. A failure to do so could leave the crane without context and will be seen as an insult to the descendants of those who's skills and enterprise created the most prestigious and powerful industry the Island has seen.