Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
  • MENU

The Ponda Rosa Horse and Cart

Ponda Rosa Horse and carver Jack Whitehead

The Ponda Rosa horse with its cowboy and cart, was a masterpiece by Mr Jack Whitehead, who lived on a houseboat moored at Wootton Creek. His hobby of wood carving had become a profession.  As a master-carver he took on commissions from all around the world.  The life-size horse was carved from polystyrene covered with fibreglass.

Installing the horse & cart

The horse and cart on the roof of the Ponda Rosa was such a familiar site to many local residents and regular visitors alike, that it wasn’t until it was no longer in situ, that people would comment and ask where it had gone. The Ponda Rosa horse became redundant because of the change of name to The Tirol.   Even Clive Green, one of the family wondered some years later as to its whereabouts.  It was only when Mr Williams of Binstead spotted the horse, and with further investigation, that it all became clear

It appeared that antique shop owners David and Karol Hooper, from Leamington Spa had travelled to the Island in the early 1990’s with the intention of purchasing vintage spares and fairground items, their hunt found them at Westridge on the outskirts of Ryde, where they looked at a closing down sale of a museum of rural life and transport.  At the sale they spotted the Ponda Rosa horse and cowboy, which had been put into the sale by the previous owners of the Ashey roadhouse.  They thought it would look perfect on top of their antique shop.

The local press reported that the cowboy sat in the back seat of the Hooper’s car on their way home, with the horse on its side on the roof.  Needless to say, there were many remarks from other passengers on the ferry.  They were stopped by police on the way home through the New Forest as someone reported that the car had knocked over a horse.  Luckily the police came to see the funny side of the matter.

The horse and cowboy remained on top of the antique shop at Leamington Spa until the Hooper’s sold the business in 1998.  The Ponda Rosa horse was then sold to a theme pub company in Ireland.  Eventually the horse and cowboy were shipped from Ireland to the States by an American dealer.  It had literally “Gone way out west.”

Sources: IW County Press, Wight Life
Images: Michael Whitehead
Article: Ann Barrett