Oswald Burden 1884 - 1951
Oswald Burden was another interesting person who lived at Westwood House, he is reported to have been from an old well known old Durham family. On the death of his father he became chairman of the family business and held the position for 17 years until he was advised by his doctor to lead a less stressful lifestyle. Taking the doctors advice he resigned as chairman and left the company, his younger brother taking over the position. We do not have any details of his early life but it is thought he came to the Island around 1931-2. There is a record of him getting married in 1934 to a Miss L. Mullar of the Freemasons Hotel in Ventnor. They had three children two girls and a son Oswald [who was killed in a car accident in 1960, age 21 years]. He is buried in the cemetery at Ventnor together with his son and later his wife.
There is a very good profile of the man in Percy Harwood’s book “Just 31/2 miles”, parts are quoted herewith: -
“I suppose my best taxi customer was a Mr Burden. He came to live at Kite Hill, Wootton at the same time as I did . He came from the north of the country and was in forestry and gravel; he told me his doctors had advised him to retire. He put on his hat and coat and left his office forever that day, giving his younger brother John the business. He was a tycoon type of man, very energetic, full of business acumen and an active Stock Exchange client. He married a Ventnor lady some 25 years his junior and they had three children Oswald and two girls, Julie and Josephine. When the family went out to the beach or otherwise he would hire two taxis, one for himself and his wife and one for the children and the nanny. He was always doing property deals, antiques, ivories, paintings or anything else that financially profitable. He and his family were good Catholics and although having left Kite Hill and now living at Quarr [some 100 yards from the Abbey] he still had a taxi for the short trip, mostly on Sunday. For about a year they made a trip to the church in East Cowes, I would wait there until the service was over then retuning them to Quarr. He also had an art gallery in Bonchurch and I spent a lot of time with him, I was too young to let things sink in, but in looking back a little has brushed off. He bought the area of land from Quarr Abbey to Fishbourne and gave builders plots of land in exchange for having a house built for him [White House] near Quarr Abbey. He bought a pair of iron gates from the saleroom and I can remember bringing them home for him on the roof of my Buick. He also bought from the sale rooms unwanted wash stands with marble tops these were broken up to make a crazy paved patio area. He wanted electricity in the new house, the Isle of Wight Electricity Company were called in and quoted £90.00 for the installation. This was formidable sum at that time, “all right put it in, I can eat that sum before breakfast”. Some time later, he purchased three cottages in Ventnor and looking through the documentation he found that Isle of Wight Electricity Co. were charging rent for the wiring in the cottages. He told them to remove their wiring and make good the walls. The electricity company realised that to do so would cost a considerable sum to remove to make good and offered compensation-how much £90.00!! Later Oswald learned to drive and my taxi services were no longer required, I had provided taxis for the family for 12 years.
Late one evening he came into the garage and asked “anything doing”, not much was my response, Cdr. Mitchell did say he might sell his MG car. “Lets go up and buy it was his response”. Not at 10.00 o’clock at night without an appointment was my thoughts. “Come on, lets go” so up to Westwood House we went, and within a short space of time we had bought the car. Driving out of the gates Mr Burden said, “Who knows we might buy the blinking house”, and within six weeks he was living there, he also bought North & South Lodges, Westwood Farm and the Nurseries at the same time. Whilst I was driving for him he also bought St. Joseph’s College and all the ground right around into Tower Road [East Cowes?].
It is also reported that he owned one of the three story houses opposite Ryde Town Hall. He was living at ‘Downlands’ Ventnor when he died in July 1951, having also owned ‘Maples’ in Bonchurch and ‘Orchard’ in Ventnor.
Isle of Wight County Press
Isle of Wight County Records