Mason's Guide (1876) - West Cowes
Cowes is the only port of the island, and is the site of the Custom House. It is much frequented during the winter months by vessels requiring repairs, for the execution of which there is here every facility. Adding to these advantages the honour of being selected as the principal station of the Royal Yacht Club, it has an air of business as well as pleasure, not to be met with in every watering place. There is a commodious landing place at the back of the Fountain Hotel. The Marine Parade, extending from the Marine Hotel to the Castle, is a delightful and fashionable promenade, commanding a view of the entrance of the harbour, the roadstead, the Solent, Calshot Castle, Southampton Water, and the opposite shore. The Castle, which is now the Royal Yacht Squadron Club-house was originally built in the reign of Henry VIII., and formerly mounted eleven 9-pounders. To the west of the castle is a plot of land neatly laid out which was generously presented to the town by G.R. Stephenson Esq., for a promenade or recreation ground. The Annual Regatta takes place in August, which from the beauty of the contending vessels, the skill displayed in working them, and the general animation and loveliness of the scene is highly attractive. The Squadron was formed in 1812, and enrolls many of the first names of the kingdom as its members. The public buildings of West Cowes are neither numerous nor striking. A tornado of great force passed over the town during the summer of 1876, doing considerable damage.
[Description(s) from Mason's Guide to the Isle of Wight (1876)]