The Carstairs Collection
The Betty ‘Joe’ Carstairs Collection came to the Gallery after the closure of the Basildon Motorboat Museum and much of it is on display in the Gallery. As well as trophies there are albums, press cutting books, and photographs. Joe Carstairs was an heiress who led an unconventional life style in the 20’s and 30’s in Europe and later in the Bahamas. Having sailed competitively on the English East coast in her yacht Sonia, and on coming into her inheritance from her grandfather (Standard Oil – Esso!) in 1921, she came to Cowes and commissioned Sammy Saunders to build her a succession of racing power boats in which she was highly successful in world racing circles, at one time being the fastest woman on water, with her engineer, Joe Harris. She eventually opened her own yard, the Sylvia Yard, in East Cowes.