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The Eight Wonders of the Isle of Wight

The history of the Isle of Wight in England includes eight wonders that relate to locations found on the island. A sort of play-on-words with location names. Originally as five wonders, it expanded to six and then eight over time. These wonders first were used on postcards for tourists, created by W. J. Nigh, a Ventnor postcard maker from the 1900s. More information on the history and examples of the postcards can be seen here.


Source: Alwyn Ladell

The unique Eight Wonders of the Isle of Wight are:

  1. Cowes you cannot milk
  2. Freshwater you cannot drink
  3. Newport you cannot bottled
  4. Needles you cannot thread
  5. Winkle Street where there are no winkles
  6. Ryde where you walk
  7. Lake where there is no water
  8. Newtown which is very old

Growing up on the Isle of Wight I had also seen these on marketing and touristic products like teatowels and magnets. It was one of those things that was known through the generations like for me through my grandad, not something learn’t at school.

8 wonders

Source: This postcard was published by G.Dean & Co Limited in The ‘Bay’ Series

The Isle of Wight is known to have used different words throughout the history too. Some typical words that may be used by islanders:

“Caulkhead” which means an island born person for usually three generations or more.

“Firk” which is the same as to fidget or to scratch.

“Gally-Bagger” which is a scarecrow

“Overners” are persons whose home is over the water, on the main land; not a native of the Island.

“Gurt” meaning great

“In a Jiffy” meaning in a short time/moment

“Mallishag” which is a large caterpilla.

Legend has it that the Island will one day sink and all the “overners” will perish and drown while all the islanders will float away and survive. Though I’m not so any islanders still believe this!

There are many more words used by islanders in the past, which can be seen here Dictionary of the Isle of Wight 1886. Reading through this list as a “caulkhead” myself (through my mothers side), I would say I know only 5-10% of these from current life on the Isle of Wight, so islanders sure have adapted to more common words. I definitely haven’t used any of these words since living in the Netherlands.

8 wonders of the IoW

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