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Issue 42 August '13

Wednesday 28th August 2013

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Learn about West Wight

The West Wight’s natural environment is a fantastic educational resource. This area of our workis focussed on helping people of all ages and abilities to learn about and enjoy its qualities. Along with local schools and community groups we have developed a range of projects to help us do this. Click on the links below to get a flavour of what we are doing.

Isle Be Back - a Brighstone Primary School production

Birds and Beasts of the West Wight

When we had a Rocket

Wight Surf History Project

Parish Archaeology

Unlocking Landscapes

West Wight Artscape Project


Isle Be Back - Brighstone Primary School pupils wanted to recreate the landscape of coast, downland and forest in their school grounds so that they could continue the learning experiences they had gained from visits to the surrounding countryside.
With thanks to the efforts of volunteers, local trades people, staff and parents the gardens were successfully completed and opened at the school’s Green Britain Day celebrations on 10 July 2009.
As part of this project we have developed a series of 'top trump' style wildflower identification cards to help the pupils recognise common flowers in verges and waysides. These can be downloaded as pdfs here.
See more pictures here.


Birds and Beasts of the West Wight  - Weston Community Primary School pupils have been getting out of the classroom to explore local woodland and river estuary habitats. The children worked with Growing Ideas to learn about the birds and insects that the different habitats support. One class was even lucky enough to spot a kingfisher!
Weston pupils proudly show their bird boxes
Helped by our local Countryside Rangers, pupils also constructed bird boxes for their gardens and the school grounds. We have installed a a bird cam to help pupils track the comings and goings at the school's bird box as well as a series of ‘top trump’ style bird cards to help pupils identify our feathered visitors. These cards are available to download as pdfs here.

When we had a Rocket - The story of Britain's top secret rocket testing site at the New Needles Battery on Highdown continues to intrigue and fascinate. Conducted at the height of the Cold War and Space Race the rocket test programme gave the West Wight a central place in the political manoeuvring and scientific and technological advances of the mid to late C.20th.
To celebrate this enigmatic period in the West Wight's history we produced a series of new story boards that provide a glimpse of the goings on at the top secret test site. These were displayed at Dimbola Lodge in February 2010 and can be downloaded here.


Wight Surf History - Since at least the 1960s, locals and visitors have been drawn to the Back of the Wight to surf its waves which, are considered amongst the UK’s best.
Since the Island’s first surfers took to the waters of Compton and Freshwater Bays the popularity of the sport has soared and Islanders have played an important part in its development. WWLP are now supporting local surfers and artists Paul Blackley and Jason Swain to capture the history of surfing on the Island. Over the coming months they will be researching and drawing together the story of how surfing arrived and evolved here, and the characters involved over the years.
If you would like to contribute your stories or images to the project please email paul@wightsurfhistory.co.uk or click here to visit the project website


Parish Archaeology - Working with the Isle of Wight Council's Archaeology Unit and we have produced a series of booklets that trace the pattern of human activity within the West Wight parishes up to the medieval period. These are available as downloadable pdfs here.


Unlocking landscapes - The West Wight contains a wealth of built and natural heritage features. With the help of our partners we are delivering a range of improvements to the quality of interpretative material that will help both local people and visitors gain a better understanding of the West Wight's land and sea scapes.
New interpretation boards have now been installed at the National Trust's Mottistone Estate, Newtown National Nature Reserve and Sudmoor. A number of new boards are also shortly to be installed at Fort Victoria Country Park to help tell the story of the site's military history and its fascinating natural heritage. 

West Wight Artscape Project  -The West Wight has been a significant source of inspiration for artists, particularly since the late 18th century, and there are a wealth of artworks that can be examined and appraised in term of how they contribute to our understanding of how the West Wight landscape has changed.
From this study it is clear that our rich heritage of artworks can be used to support sustainable management of the landscape of the West Wight. Important paintings of the West Wight contained in art galleries, museums and private collections provide an easily appreciated view of the landscape over time, presenting images that can be immediately recognised by those living there, including those who may not necessarily have any technical knowledge. The Artscape study has also demonstrated the significant value of historical artworks in terms of raising interest and enthusiasm for the West Wight landscape amongst pupils of all academic levels. The results highlight their artistic skills and perception of landscape change in the West Wight.