“I was born at Beach Cottage, Castlehaven, Niton Undercliff in the year nineteen hundred and six. Beach Cottage was built for my father by my grandfather of the local hard stone which we call ‘Rag Stone’. . . It was a most excellent cottage.” These are the words George Roland Haynes used to begin his memories of growing up in Niton; the picture here is a sketch he made of Beach Cottage.
He recalled how in the 1920s and 30s Castlehaven was also the popular place for members of families from the big houses to come for a morning swim in the summer, using ‘Haynes’s Bathing Machines’, Victorian relics which were available for hire along with bathing costumes. He recorded with a clear eye and good humour the small mundane details of daily life – schooldays, the daily life of a fisherman, and the problems of washday before the days of washing machines – ending his account with the words: “So here it is, one life among the many that have been lived . . . I have written all that I thought should be recorded before it is completely forgotten, about things that are now totally gone, because – it used to be like this!”
Our new exhibition (opening 5 July) in the Ventnor Heritage Museum uses George’s words alongside images from our archives, and we have also republished his book (see our Publications page for details)