Isle of Wight Guided Tours

phone: +44 (0)1983 754444 or +44 (0)7932 157326 | e-mail:

Cowes Past and Present

Cowes Past and Present

Join us on a fun-filled, informative, easy-paced stroll through quaint, cobbled streets. This walking tour has something for everyone. Starting with the Vikings, we work our way through time to the present day.

  • Boatbuilding and sailing traditions here are older than you might imagine. Did you know for example that Russia’s Peter the Great sealed a deal with IOW shipbuilders as far back as 1696?

  • Hear tales of Henry VIII, his shipbuilding and the sinking of his beloved Mary Rose, the building of seaplanes, flying boats (The Princess), hovercraft, Red Jets and Thames clippers.

  • And what of the larger-than-life Ward family of Northwood House who put Cowes well and truly on the map? We have them to thank for   our enthralling tales of the outlandish parties regularly held there! By contrast, the latter-day house occupants who were as quiet as proverbial mice are also fascinating!

    Learn all about Cowes Week - how it started, some of its winners, along with stories about other races and regattas. We will give you a potted history of The Royal Yacht Squadron and tell some amusing and interesting anecdotes connected to it.

  • And not least the town’s strong royal connections – with the inevitable odd scandal as well as a couple of sad stories. Once more, not only British royalty but German and Russian ones too!

  • Take a peek at Holy Trinity, (known as the ‘Sailors’ Church’ in honour of the sailing tradition of Cowes) with its garden memorial which  overlooks the sea, commemorating the lives lost in a well-known sailing disaster. Learn how the tragedy resulted in some positive change.

  • And how did the captain of a visiting Polish vessel manage to save enormous loss of life during a night of terrible WW2 bombing? His decision to defy orders has made him into a Cowes hero.

  • Which household names have lived in Cowes? And which other celebrities have strong links to the town? Well, two Sirs – namely Winston Churchill and Max Aitken for starters!

(You may be able to fit in a visit to the ‘Sir Max Aitken Museum’ in The Prospect building. This is a former sail loft, now painted a pretty shade of pink.)

Let’s see how many of these questions we get time to answer!

Other questions might be ‘What links Cowes and Spitfires?’ or ‘Why does Cowes have two large Church of England parish churches a mere stone’s throw apart?’

We have been known to continue our tales over some light refreshment at the end of this tour and might just be persuaded to do so again if asked!

Either way - don’t miss this one - it’s a real gem.

Cowes Past and Present

Cowes Past and Present

Cowes Past and Present