Historic Ryde Society

‘Giving Ryde’s Past to the Future’

Historic Ryde Society Quiz Night Thursday 28 September 2023 at Yelf's Hotel, at 7p.m. for 7.30pm.

Isle of Wight Observer March 11 1854

An extraordinary incident occurred off Ryde on Friday last, the particulars concerning which will enable any person to form some faint idea of what a sea fight will be. On the morning in question, Mr Fowles, the marine painter of Ryde, accompanied by his son and another lad, went off in a boat towards Spithead to take a sketch of the fleet, and when he arrived abreast of them near Sands-head, five of the ships opened a tremendous cannonade, the shots flying about in all directions – above, below, and around him. Mr Fowles describes the scene as terrific. At first, he could see the balls, about the size of a man’s head, issue from the cannon’s mouth, tearing through the air towards him with a tremendous oscillation, similar to that of a locomotive; then pitching into the water, tearing it up, and throwing it into columns of 30 feet high; then bounding an immense height into the air, pitching again, and so on, until it became spent, when it would plunge down, carrying with it a white streak of air, which would throw up thousands of bubbles. As the firing proceeded, the smoke increased, through which he could see the balls continually flying out, expecting that each one would send the boat and all it contained to “Davy Jones’s Locker”. This scene lasted about 20 minutes, and was watched with intense anxiety by hundreds of people on shore who assemble daily when the cannonading commences. Mr Fowles, therefore, has probably a better idea now for painting a sea fight than any living artist, which he intends to turn to account.

This is a painting of the 1864 Ryde Regatta by A W Fowles. Biographical details for A W Fowles can be found here.

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