Cowes Maritime Museum

What you will find when you visit 

The Cowes Maritime Museum displays a selection of objects and images which tell the story of Cowes and its maritime heritage. You can see Uffa Fox’s  dinghy, Avenger, and models of vessels built by J. Samuel White & Co Ltd of Cowes.

The museum is situated within Cowes Library and is free to enter.

Opening times:

  • Monday: 10am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm
  • Tuesday: 10am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm
  • Wednesday: CLOSED
  • Thursday: CLOSED
  • Friday: 10am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm
  • Saturday: 10am to 4.30pm

Museum collection

The Museum has an extensive photographic and paper archive. The archive depicts yachting and the shipbuilding industry in Cowes. The reserve collection is held within the museum store. This is accessible by appointment only. If you require more information about the archive collection please contact the Curator of Human History.

The library houses a collection of maritime-related books and the photographs of William Robert Hogg. Visit our museum collections page for more information about Hogg's photography.

The Tale of Two Shipwrecks, an online exhibition

For thousands of years the seas around the island’s coast have been navigated by ships of all sizes and nationalities. Inevitably many ships have been lost and more than 4,000 shipwreck sites appear on the Admiralty's charts.

The Island’s 60mi (97km) of coastline is generally peaceful and calm, but sudden storms and fog have caught many ships unaware. This exhibition tells the story of two of these shipwrecks. The Yarmouth Roads wreck and HMS Pomone.

The Yarmouth Roads Wreck

HMS Pomone and The Needles

HMS Pomone – The Finds

Activity page – fun things to do

Who were J Samuel White & Co Ltd, Cowes?

In 1803, Thomas White began to take over shipyards on both sides of the River Medina, at West and East Cowes. Over the following years, Thomas and his sons ran various shipyards, eventually combining them under the name 'J Samuel White' in 1860.

During their history, White's & Co built:

  • Naval ships
  • floating bridges
  • lifeboats
  • paddle steamers
  • and aircraft.

They even produced ice cream machines and, in the 1950s, created an early form of jet ski, the "ski-ter".

White’s & Co built their last ship in the mid-1960s and in 1981 the yard finally closed.

Read more in our J.S White’s Aircraft production (PDF, 1.2MB, 6 pages) leaflet.

J.S. White’s advertising

Our Heritage service holds a collection of J.S. White’s guard books (bound scrapbooks) containing magazine cuttings of the company’s advertisements from 1942 to 1971. This small selection reveals the different aspects of their design.

To find out more, read our guide on J.S. White's adverts (PDF, 3.8MB, 24 pages).