Sandown's History



Situated on the South East coast of the Isle of Wight, there is some evidence of an Iron Age settlement in Sandown. During the Roman period salt was produced in the area.

Sandown has a rich military history due to its wide sandy beaches, which offered a perfect landing place for invasion. The coastline and Culver Cliff to the north of the esplanade are to this day dotted with forts and barricades which once provided protection against invading forces from the Continent.


In 1545 Henry VIII built a fort known as Sandown Castle. The site was was attacked during the French invasion of the Isle of Wight. Having been built into the sea it was demolished a few hundred years later due to erosion. Sandham Fort was built in 1631, further inland. This site was demolished in the mid-19th century and is located under what is now Sandham Grounds.


In the 1860s, five Palmerston Forts were built along the coast of the Bay. Two of these forts are still in existence at Yaverland, now the site of the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary. Sandown Barrack Battery on the towns western cliffs is a scheduled monument.

Rail came to Sandown in 1864 and the town grew in size, its safe bathing waters making it a popular destination with Victorians.

Sandown Pier

The pier opened in 1879 a mere 360ft long, due to the Sandown Pier Company, who were building the pier,  running out of funds. In 1887 the Sandown Pier Extension company bought the pier and the pier was extended in 1895 to a length of 875ft with the addition of a new pavilion in 1934.

1971 saw the development of a more shore based entertainment area which was opened in 1973. The pier was sold in 1987 to the Sandown Pier Limited. A bad fire in 1989 caused severe damage and substantial repairs were required costing over £2 million.

The theatre on the pier played host to many famous names such as Ray Alan, Jimmy Tarbuck, as well as local Island acts and societies. It was closed down in 1997 due to dwindling attendance and a lack of local council budget.

Following a change of use, the current pier has many more amenities including indoor miniature crazy golf and the traditional seaside arcade.


The Sandown Chronicles

For a long time Sandown had it's own local new publication - the Sandown Chronicle. Following an extensive restoration project by the local historical association, led by volunteer Derek Poole, editions from the mid-1800's until the publication ceased have been restored and archived. The papers are now stored in bespoke storage at Sandown Library. 

David Bambrough Articles

A local historian David Bambrough has written various articles on aspects of Sandown's history. A printed book which can be purchased by contacting David via email A selection of the articles written by David on Sandown's history can be accessed via this webpage: