Historic Ryde Society

‘Giving Ryde’s Past to the Future’

Historic Ryde Society Quiz Night Thursday 30 November 2023 at Yelf's Hotel, at 7p.m. for 7.30pm.

Stench in Swanmore and The Dogs of Ryde

To the Editor of the Isle of Wight Observer….

 August 1866

Sir, I have been for some weeks a visitor in your charming town of Ryde, and, like Charles Lamb, very fond of strolling through the streets, looking at the novelties which the shops continually offer to the passengers’ gaze. At this particular season, when the yacht races and regattas bring together a vast increase in the usual population of the place, all the tradesmen’s stores are set out with a peculiar attractiveness. I can assure you, Sir, much as I may desire to view these tempting miscellanies, I have frequently found it a very difficult – sometimes an impossible  – matter, from the number of the canine race that intercept your steps at almost every turn. Dogs, of all breeds, from the toy terrier to the Newfoundland, are snapping, and snarling, and fighting – sometimes with a fearful uproar – in all quarters of the town. There is no getting in, and frequently no getting out, of a shop without stumbling over, or being obliged to leap on one side to avoid, them. In a town like Ryde, where moveable property seems most exemplarily to need no special guarding, there can be no possible excuse for keeping so many useless curs. Before two or three fatal cases of hydrophobia occur, it is  to be hoped the evil, now so crying, will be arrested by the police or some other competent authority. In London, where a new Act is coming into operation in a day or two, there is a special clause about dogs. It has been wisely determined to check their indiscriminate roaming about the streets by slaying all dogs found at large without an owner. They are to be kept a day or two impounded, and then, if not claimed, are to be destroyed. I shall be very glad to hear of a similar precaution at Ryde, street pedestrianism here, at present, being much robbed of its enjoyments through the engrossing presence of these four-footed animals. Heidelberg has a bad reputation for the number and ferocity of its dogs; but there the mischief is doubly aggravated by the bullyism and fire-eating propensity of their masters. If you don’t happen to love their animals as they think you ought to love themselves, they forthwith call you out, and covet the pleasure of giving you an intercostal from a rapier, in the use of which weapon they are by no means inconsiderate experts. Happily, however, I have no fear of anything of that sort here in Ryde. In the first place, the dogs I denounce apparently have no owners; and, secondly, if the latter were patent and known, and a complaint were made, I am sure, from all that I have experienced from the inhabitants during a six weeks’ sojourn, I should receive nothing but civility and considerate treatment in reply to any remonstrance I might think fit to make to them. I fear I have trespassed too long on your space, and, probably, the subject may be an unwelcome one to you; but I hope not, and remain, Your’s, very truly,
George Street, Ryde, August 16, 1866

To the Editor of the Isle of Wight Observer

Sir – At this critical time, when disease is so insidiously “putting in an appearance” in every favouring quarter, I hope to be pardoned for drawing the attention of your Commissioners, or the authority who may have jurisdiction there, to a nuisance most palpably existing in the neighbourhood of Swanmore. On Wednesday evening I took a stroll through Play Street, and round the new church into High-street. The effluvium from pigsties, in several parts of my walk, was of the most offensive character, and qualified materially the enjoyment I should otherwise have had in my excursion. I wished to linger and look at the lovely views obtainable in that locality, but the horrid stench forbade it, and I was obliged to hurry on, lamenting that the same attention to cleanliness so manifestly observable in your attractive town was not to be found in its suburbs. Perhaps a line or two from your editorial pen, or the insertion of this note, may induce attention to a matter which, I think you will agree with me, ought not, at this particular juncture, to be neglected.             I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
George-street, Ryde, August 10, 1866

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