Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs


The opening of The Green in West Cowes, Isle of Wight
A child's entry ticket to the ceremony, 2 June 1864

carte-de-visite showing the newly refurbished Green in West Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The reverse of the mount makes it clear that in addition to commemorating the improvements, the carte also doubled as an entry ticket for the ceremony held to mark the opening of the public space.

According to a report in the Isle of Wight Times (5 May 1864): ‘The work of improvement on the Green still goes on, and in a few days the whole will be completed, and will form a most complete change when compared to the old rough spot over which our residents and visitors heretofore stumbled rather than walked. In the centre of the green a handsome place has been created to accommodate the band intended to play there during the summer season. To the Northward of this a beautifully designed Drinking Fountain has been placed, to give water to them that are thirsty. We believe it was intended to have some public demonstration on Monday last the 2nd of May, but as the whole of the works were not complete, it has been delayed for a time.’

On 26 May 1864 the same journal reported: ‘The extensive alterations and improvements now being made on our Green, are nearly completed, and from a printed bill we learn that it will be formally opened on the 2nd of June, when an open-air concert of vocal music, by a choir of 250 voices, will take place, under the management of Mr G.W. Martin, of London. The Hants Yeomanry band, together with the private band of G.R. Stephenson, Esq., will also perform on the Green during the day. Should the weather be fine, an immense concourse of people may be expected to attend. The children of the various schools, and the old men and women, are to be regaled with a substantial meal, and we believe it will be a day long remembered among us, as the commencement of a long career of prosperity to the town of Cowes. […] While noticing the subject, we cannot avoid expressing a hope that as the Green is now public property, every man who visits it will not only refrain from doing it, or its ornaments any injury, but will strenuously aid in putting down all improper conduct, and endeavour to bring to punishment, any who shall wantonly injure the property.’

From the various reports that subsequently appeared in several local papers, it seems that ‘the day and all its proceedings were all that could be wished,’ despite ‘some pitiful scoundrel’ stealing the calico that had been used to cover the seats of the orchestra (Isle of Wight Times, 9 June 1864).

The upper right corner of the print (and mount) carry a blindstamp showing the arms and motto (Latin: Fidus in Arcanis; English: Faithful in Secret) of the Stephenson family, George Robert Stephenson, nephew of the locomotive engineer, being the benefactor who had purchased and refurbished the space for the town.

Photographer unidentified.

Condition: The print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition. The mount presents a few linear indentations verso but is otherwise also in excellent condition, with crisp edges and sharp corners.  

Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard carte-de-visite are approximately 4.1" by 2.5" (10.5 cm by 6.3 cm).

price:  £100
code: cat012
West Cowes, Isle of Wight, opening ceremony, admission ticket, admission tickets, George Robert Stephenson