Local studies and maritime collections

Isle of Wight local history resources

Local history at the library

If you have an interest in local history, you can borrow books free of charge from the local collections in all of our libraries.

To contact Lord Louis Library and all library services:

Local history at the County Records Office

The County Records Office in Newport holds:

  • reference collections
  • newspapers
  • journals
  • parish magazines
  • trade directories
  • electoral registers

We recommend that you call or email before your visit to make an appointment. 

To contact the County Record Office:

Cowes and other maritime collections

To access the Cowes Maritime Collection, visit Cowes Library, Beckford Road, Cowes, IW PO31 7SG, or call 01983 293341.

More extensive archives, such as illustrations and ships’ drawings, are held elsewhere on the Island. To contact the Isle of Wight Heritage Service, call 01983 823433 or email museums@iow.gov.uk


Cowes Maritime Collection contains an array of books and journals on all aspects of yachting and boating from the earliest days of yachting to the present. The collection covers marine activities, including:

  • boat maintenance
  • knots
  • meteorology
  • deep water cruising
  • dinghy sailing
  • windsurfing
  • power boats
  • offshore racing. 

The collection is available during normal library opening hours.

Marine Industry

The Cowes area played an important role in the development of marine industries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Apart from the world-famous shipbuilders J Samuel White & Co, companies in Cowes and East Cowes developed all types of craft from sea planes to hovercraft and at one time were involved in the British contribution to the Space Race.