Ref Number: 00208
Initially built as a small jetty of 56ft, which allowed for paddle steamers to dock and unload. In 1839 the quay was extended to 100ft. Later in the 1860's the Pier/quay was further added to with waiting rooms and improved access.
Ref Number: 00208
In 1823, George Ward, a co-owner of the Isle of Wight Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, bought the neighbouring Dolphin and Fountain Inns to turn them into a public dock. This 56-foot-long wharf was suitable for paddle steamers.
After taking over the company from his father in 1839, George Henry Ward started building a pier on the quay. His father had died in 1829. Both this and the adjacent 100-foot dock were solidly constructed of stone and outfitted with coal cellars for steamers. After George Henry Ward’s death in 1849, the pier was managed by his nephew, William George Ward. The Prince of Coburg, the Medina, the Earl of Malmsbury, George IV, Ruby, Pearl, and the Queen were all vessels owned by the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company. Covered waiting areas and pier access were added at Fountain Pier in the early 1860s. It was formed in 1861 when the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company merged with the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company of Southampton and the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Improved Steamboat Company, three competing steam companies. The renovations were finished in 1874.
Passenger travel on the Isle of Wight increased with the opening of the Cowes & Newport Line on June 16, 1862. As a result, the pier was replaced with a pontoon in June 1873. Because of this, the pier extended to a total of 120 feet. One of the first ships to use Voith-Schneider propellers and travel in both directions was the M.V. Vecta, which set sail in 1939. In the 1930s, diesel-powered ships replaced the approximately 30 paddlesteamers that made the trip between Cowes and Southampton.
Even though it isn’t used as a promenade anymore, Fountain Pier is nevertheless an important part of Cowes. Over 200 years after George Ward constructed the pier, the Southampton, Isle of Wight, and South England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, or “Red Funnel,” still operates fastcats vessels from here, that whisk your to Southampton in around 20minutes.