ISLANDERS REUNITEDFrom Mrs Ronna Saunders, Ryde:
BACK in the 1950s (or 60s) my paternal grandmother, Mrs Elizabeth Carpenter (nee Stark-Sargent), told me about her younger brother, Daniel, a former sea-captain, who had brought the pit-props to Newport harbour from a place called Solovetski.
Ever since, I have tried my hardest to locate this place but, apart from learning that it was very far away in the Baltic, somewhere on a tiny island, occupied by a religious order I have never found it marked on any atlas.
However, Great Uncle Daniel had taken the precaution of calling his house, Solovetski.
The last time I was able to walk along Adelaide Grove at East Cowes, I saw this big semi-detached house, at the Minerva Road end of the road, with the name Solovetski engraved in a stone plaque on the front wall.
The monks who sold the pit-props that held up the first 'walls’ of Newport Harbour were unable to study theology for various reasons, such as hearing or other problems, and their abbot had suggested that they could fulfil their vocation by growing young trees and then soaking them in sea water ready for sale to those who needed them.
This is where Great Uncle Daniel comes in — but, there is still some mystery as to how he first heard of Solovetski. Well, we all know from films, such as Titanic, that even in 1912, there was an obvious system of communications between one ship and another, which was how the SS Carpathia came to reach the Titanic and rescue a few survivors. (Some of them, two, I think, lived in what was Victoria Road in those days, now King’s Road, I think).
PS I am so glad to read in the County Press there is a group that cares about the harbour.