TUCKED away in the wilds of Newtown there is a street called Gold Street, but don’t go looking for it on your satnav.

It will deny all knowledge of any such place, but Gold Street is there all the same.

It’s just round the corner from the High Street and up the road from Silver Street.

Well, it was 650 years ago, because we are talking about the days when Newtown was a busy little town and also the most important harbour on the Island until one day in 1377, when the French attacked the town and burnt it to the ground.

It never recovered from the attack and was abandoned for the next 600 years.

However, the mediaeval streets lived on, hidden under the weeds which quickly grew over the ruins and amazingly, the streets and lanes are all there to this day, frozen in time.

Some of them are plain to see in today’s hedge lines in the fields, others can be seen from the air — a whole mediaeval town, just waiting to be excavated.

About the only activity at Newtown for centuries was the production of salt ­— a couple of the original salt ponds can still be seen there.

Sea water was let into the ponds and evaporated by the sun until a strong brine was produced, which was then taken to the nearby boiling house, where the water was driven off to produce salt.

On its website, the National Trust coyly says: “Sadly, the salt house no longer exists ­— it had fallen into a terminal state of disrepair.”

The truth is, they demolished it in the early 1970s.

As my photo shows, it might not have been the prettiest building in the world, but it didn’t deserve to go like that.

Today, thanks to the French, Newtown is a nature reserve, home to curlews and oystercatchers, but not long ago the mudflats which attract them there were pasture land, part of Marsh Farm and home to grazing cattle.

The fields disappeared one night in November, 1954, during a raging storm when the sea level rose and was driven onshore by the wind, until eventually the waves breached the seawalls which had kept the Solent out for more than 200 years.

Millions of gallons of seawater instantly flooded more than 100 acres of farmland which was lost to the sea, probably for ever.

For an event that radically changed a large area of the Island, it received little coverage at the time, the County Press devoting just a few lines to the breaching.

“Mr Spearing, of Marsh Farm, Newtown, has been badly hit by the floods.

“The gale caused his land to become flooded to a depth of from one to five feet.

“Normally, Mr Spearing grazes dairy cattle there. Luckily, the farm buildings are on slightly higher ground and have escaped the worst of the flooding, but it will be a long time before the rest of his land is sweet again.”

It was never to be sweet again.

The fields became part of the seabed, and with no commercial use in sight, the owners ­— the Swainston Estate ­— gave Newtown to the National Trust in 1960.

The County Press reported: “The property includes the former public house, The Franchville Arms, in the centre of the village; Town Copse; over four miles of foreshore from Bouldnor to Thorness Wood; 16 miles of tidal lakes, and the rights to the river bed, including the Newtown Oyster fishery, which is being revived and is said to be the Island’s oldest industry.”

And so it might have been.

In 1877, there were reckoned to be between five and six million oysters in the Newtown and Medina rivers until the entire stock was wiped out in 1880 by a severe frost.

The beds were eventually re-stocked by Cowes fishmongers, Paskins, who then lost almost the entire beds due to oil pollution during the First World War.

The lease then reverted to the Swainston Estate during the last war and they managed the beds until 1957.

No sooner had the National Trust been handed the estate in 1960 than they sold off the oyster fishery, the County Press reporting, “The new owner, Mr Lucas, has added another quarter of a million oysters to the beds, and tends his ‘fields’ as carefully as any dry-land farmer.

“It is largely playing a waiting game in the oyster industry ­— none should be picked until it is between four and five years of age.

“Many hazards face the oyster farmer.

“There is the ever-present danger of frost and the oyster’s particular enemy ­— the tingle, a type of sea snail which feeds on the oyster by boring a hole in its shell.

“With the traditional glass of stout and brown bread and butter, the Newtown oyster will find many a willing buyer.”

And so it did for a while, but in the early 2000s oyster numbers plummeted.

The dreaded tingle was back, some said, and by 2010 the shellfish had all but died out and in 2013 the oyster beds were closed by the Fisheries Agency.

Oyster fisherman Paul Lambert said the decline in the oyster population had been dramatic ­— crews at one time collected between one and two tonnes a day he said; now they were lucky to collect three or four bags full.

The last fact about Newtown comes from dear Brian Greening.

Shortly before he died, he asked me what was the subject of my next Wight Memories.

When I said it was Newtown he instantly said: “I was talking to a chap the other day who said he lived at Newtown, I said to him, well, somebody has to.”