A photograph taken from a hotel bedroom window. In the immediate foreground is the edge of a flat roof. Beyond that, the garden of a neighbouring house with For Sale signs. Next to that, a two-storey house, painted white, with a distinctive decorative line feature. On the other side of the road in the middle distance is a short, flat-roofed, two-storey building.

Whilst going through some childhood photographs, I came across some from a primary school trip to the Isle of Wight. Alongside a visit to the beach and Arreton Manor were a few taken in the hotel lounge, one of the bedrooms, and out of a bedroom window.  

These were taken in 1993 and was the second school trip to the Isle of Wight I went on. The trips were for years 5 and 6 of our and another nearby primary school.

There are some things I remember about the trips: my first time on a hovercraft; my first time on a train, where we all walked to the station and rode to Ryde; visiting Osborne House and Arreton Manor.

But I also remember the hotel: Room 1, the bedroom I stayed in on the second trip, and its sunken bath; the overwhelming smell of gas in the hallway one morning; the teeny tiny juice glasses and toast eating competitions at breakfast; drinking hot chocolate in the bar; and the end of trip disco.

Seeing the photo taken out of the bedroom window got me thinking - where was that hotel, and what does it look like today?

There was a slight problem - I couldn't remember where it was. Or what it was called, apart from the word 'Park' might have been in its name.

I knew it was the east coast of the Island, so probably Shanklin, Sandown or Ventnor, and, from the photo, I knew it was a building on the corner, although that's one thing I had remembered anyway.

The front of the hotel was white at the time, and had the classic 1970s-style slab font for its sign, in blue lettering on a white background. Annoyingly I once found out the name of that font a couple of years ago but since lost it again. It's close to being Clarendon, and sometimes called the 'Council Estate' font.

I scanned the photo and looked closely for clues. There's an estate agent's sign - perfect! Except, the estate agent was Cornerstone, a chain owned at the time by the Abbey National bank, and the town and phone number are just slightly too blurry to read (although I can work it out now!)

There are two stand-out buildings visible: one is a stubby, flat-roofed block on the right, the other was the white house in the foreground has a distinctive darker brick line running underneath the upstairs windows. I was just going to have to go street by street.

So, I knew that I was looking for:

  • a large, possibly L-shaped building
  • standing on a corner of two roads, possibly a crossroads
  • with a small flat-roofed extension
  • possibly with 'Park' in the name
  • with a small flat-roofed building a short distance away
  • a distinctive brick line on the house (houses?) behind

I loaded Google Maps over the Isle of Wight. I didn't think it was as far south as Ventnor, I thought it was around the Shanklin / Sandown area so I grabbed Pegman and dropped him in Shanklin.

As I was going up and down the streets of Shanklin, I vaguely remembered I had a photo of the hotel owners standing in the doorway. I went back to my big box of photos and albums and, after a while, found what I was looking for. 

A photo of a female and male couple standing in a doorway. Behind them are various posters and stickers on a window. One of them clearly shows a Sandown tourism message.

There in the background is a sticker for the Sandown Hotel and Guest House Association. OK, well that helps! Looking closer I couldn't see anything to give away the hotel's name, but at least it's narrowed down a bit.

From corner to corner on the map, I just wasn't seeing it. I started going back over the map and Street View when something this house caught my eye:

A screenshot from Google Street View. It shows a large, white house with a dark line detail under the upper windows.

The stripe! The house behind it has one too. I travel a little further down the road, and there's another one. And a bungalow. And... a new build. 

A screenshot from Google StreetView showing, from right to left, the house with the stripe, a bungalow, and a new build home.

I'd seen the new build on my first pass but hadn't seen the other buildings behind (I was getting very confused at one point as to which roads I'd already been down!) so hadn't really considered it a possibility.

I then clocked the name of the road I was on - Winchester Park Road. Winchester Park sounded very familiar.

Moving along to the new build on the corner I went back in the photo history in StreetView and - there it is! The Winchester Park Hotel. The sign has changed but that's the place. See it for yourself on Google Maps here.

An animated gif cutting between two photos from StreetView - one from 2009 showing the Winchester Park Hotel and another from 2018 showing a new residential building.

I don't know exactly when it closed, and there's very little online about it, but I'm glad a little time spent trawling the streets of Sandown managed to scratch that inquisitive itch.

To round this post off, here are a couple of other photos taken in the hotel lounge (which was on the corner closest to the camera in the gif above). They were taken at an end of trip party on the last night of the week-long visit.

A group of young people dancing at a party in a hotel lounge

A group of young people dancing at a party in a hotel lounge