IF YOU’RE kicking your heels during lockdown, we’ve got something to lift your spirits and help you happily while away the hours.

A long-running Isle of Wight project which has been gathering the memories of Islanders who have worked the land and the seas is ready to share all of their gems.

Scroll through the gallery of pictures above to see more... 

Through two new websites — Farming Memories and Memories of the Sea — you’ll be able to listen to dozens of interviews, learn about those who took part and gaze through the 800-plus photos of years gone by.

The interviews have also been divided into more than 600 bite-sized chunks of one to two minutes long, so you can easily drop into a wide range of themes, be that the old Newport Market or the Isle of Wight's glorious boat-building history, listen to memories of them and look through the fascinating photos.

Isle of Wight County Press:

A glass lantern slide of the market at St. James Square, Newport. Picture courtesy of Carisbrooke Castle Museum.

Funded as part of the five year-long Down to the Coast project by the Heritage Lottery fund, Peter Fellows, who heads up the project is clearly pleased with the results.

He said: “In the last year, what happens locally has become more important and closer to our hearts, so it’s been fascinating listening to the people recounting stories of years gone by, reflecting on the changes that have happened over their working lives.

“All of those wonderful voices and local accents, combined with the fact that most of these photos will have never been seen before as they come from the personal collection of those who took part, make this a very special project.”

One such incredible tale captured by the Farming Memories project was that of young farm-worker Christine Broom, who won a national Heroine of the Storm award for her efforts during the heavy snowfalls of 1962-63.

On Boxing Day 1962, Christine woke up at 4am to loads of snow. She walked through the snow for eight hours, with her father, to a friend's farm in Newchurch, arriving at midday to milk the cows. She got home at midnight. Christine repeated this every day for six weeks.

Unbeknown to Christine and the family, her grandmother nominated her for the award. Christine remembers: "I won £20 which was an awful lot of money in those days and a bouquet of red roses."

This lovely tale had a poignant ending and you can read more on the new Farming Memories website.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Geoff Phillips is another well-known figure who tells his tale in Farming Memories. Picture: Julian Winslow.

Lots of people and Island organisations were involved with creating this project. The Isle of Wight Council’s Heritage Service and Carisbrooke Castle Museum (CCM) were very generous in sharing some of their fantastic collection of historic photos, as were the Classic Boat Museum; East Cowes Heritage Centre, the Isle of Wight Society; Bembridge Heritage Centre, Cowes Heritage, RNLI HQ, as well as the private collections of those interviewed.

The striking portraits of those interviewed on the website were shot by Island photographer, Julian Winslow, and they fulfil the project’s desire to capture a moment in time and add a distinguished edge to the project.

Julian captures why the project is important. He said: “It changed the way I think of history. We’re taught about kings and queens and governments, but the real story is the people who lived it.”

“I loved meeting the people who were all such rich characters with such human stories — sometimes funny, others tragic, but all of them fascinating, even those that were just everyday life."

The projects are part of the growing oral history archive which Lisa Kerley and volunteers at Carisbrooke Castle Museum (CCM) have been quietly building up. When lockdown loosens, CCM have a Farming Memories project exhibition planned for later in the year.

Like reading tales of life on the Isle of Wight in days gone by? Click here to read more!