East Cowes is on the east bank of the River Medina, opposite Cowes on the west bank. Local industry has always centred on the building and design of marine craft and materials associated with boatmaking, including the early flying boats, and sailmaking.
East Cowes was also home to the aircraft manufacturer Saunders Roe, who built the large, advanced, flying boat The Saunders-Roe Princess, as well as the Black Knight rocket and the Black Arrow satellite carrier rocket. They also developed and tested the first hovercraft, the SR.N1.
Today, the town has a large GKN Aerospace factory and Wight Shipyard Ltd builds new high-speed ferries for customers such as Red Funnel (Red Jet 6 / Red Jet 7) and MBNA Thames Clippers at the former Saunders-Roe base at Venture Quays with its large Union Jack flag.
The two towns are connected by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry operated by the Isle of Wight Council. Close to East Cowes is Norris Castle (private), and Osborne House, the former summer residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Prince had a major influence on the architecture of the area, for example on the building of St Mildred's Church in nearby Whippingham, which features distinctive turrets imitating those found on a German castle.
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