Cowes | 1770s | Period: Georgians

Cowes is a dual town. Cowes proper (sometimes called West Cowes) and East Cowes are separated by the estuary of the River Medina. They are connected by a chain ferry.

There was no significant settlement before the 16th century. In 1539-40 King Henry VIII built two small forts on either side of the estuary where it opens into the Solent. The one on the western side survives; much altered, as Cowes Castle, now the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Port trade developed in the 17th and 18th centuries and ships of various sizes were built and maintained in yards along the estuary, many of them for the Navy.