In the wake of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations this year, Cowes Heritage has chosen 'Cowes in the Fifties' as the theme of its latest annual exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday, 20 October.
Subjects highlighted from that decade include weddings, ship and boat building, shops, carnivals, farms, schools, and the railway. The exhibition will be open daily, 1000 to 1600, from Saturday, 20 October to Sunday, 11 November, at the Cowes Regatta Centre, Bath Road, Cowes. Admission is free.
"Our members have worked hard trying to bring the fifties alive through pictures, written material and artefacts," said Cowes Heritage chairman John Groves. "This was a period of post-war austerity, with rationing still operating early in the decade. The displays are a reminder of just how many changes have taken place in Cowes, Northwood and Gurnard since then.
"This was a time when the men, returning from war service, were finding it difficult to adjust back into civilian life, and women could earn money instead of being tied to the kitchen sink."
The town's biggest employer was J Samuel White with thousands of people in both Cowes and East Cowes involved in building warships, merchant ships, lifeboats and other engineering tasks. There was also growing interest in boats for racing and leisure, resulting in an upsurge in business for boatyards and in clubs organising racing events in the Solent.
With Dr Beeching yet to wield his axe, the Cowes-Newport railway was operating as usual, as too were vehicle-carrying Red Funnel ships calling at Fountain Pontoon.
Brides often managed to walk down the aisle in suitable gowns, even if they were sometimes hand-me-downs, and local shops were for the most part locally owned, everything from clothes to fresh fish and locally produced milk in own-brand bottles.
Coinciding with the exhibition, Cowes Heritage is launching its latest book. Called 'The History of Cowes Shops', it provides a fascinating photographic insight into the sort of shops that formerly operated in the town. The book costs £10.
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