A MAJOR exhibition of photographs depicting Victorian England on the Isle of Wight has opened at Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Freshwater Bay.

The photographs, which include countryside and coastal views, shipwrecks, transport and social scenes, are drawn from the collections of Prof Robin McInnes, of St Lawrence, and his friend Andy Butler, of Ventnor.

Robin is a geologist, coastal scientist and art historian while Andy is a retired commercial fisherman, wildlife photographer and past president of the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society.

Robin said: "We are displaying 53 photographs from our collection which totals 3,500 images.

"We have been collecting and different kinds of images for 40 years.

"We have converted them to digital to make them publicly available, free of copyright, to local heritage centres, for exhibitions or people who may want them for illustrations or research.

"The photographs we have on display, which are all for sale, show the social change on the Island during the Victorian era between 1860 and 1910. They are mainly from the south-east part of the Island.

"There are also photographs of the former Royal National Hospital for Chest Diseases which was based at Steephill.

"My stepfather Eric Laidlaw was Medical Superintendent specialising in chest diseases there from 1944 until it was demolished in 1969-70."

Two Shanklin mothers, Pippa Alderson and Nicola Haseler, supported the launch by bringing their children along and they all wore Victorian clothing from the Dimbola dressing room.

The exhibition runs until April 14 and has been supported by the Daisie Rich Trust, the Delphie Lakeman Trust and Dr Brian Hinton of Julia Margaret Cameron Trust.

It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, between 10am and 4pm.