In newspaper terms, the Isle of Wight was quite late jumping on the bandwagon. Although started a few years earlier, the Isle of Wight Observer became established in September, 1852, and was printed by George and Hannah Butler, of The Colonnade, Lind Street, Ryde. It was to be another thirty years before the County Press was founded. This advertisement appeared in the Isle of Wight Observer, November 20, 1852. The island’s newspapers, which include the Isle of Wight Times, The Isle of Wight Advertiser, The Mercury and The Ryde Ventilator, can be viewed at the Isle of Wight County Record Office. If you wish to look at the original copies of the Ryde Ventilator, they can be viewed, free of charge, in the Local History Section of the Isle of Wight Library HQ, at Somerton. They are recently bound, and in particularly good condition.
The first edition of the Isle of Wight Observer was printed in the mid 1840s, but it was another six or seven years before it became established. This is a photograph of the banner of Issue 1. Note at the left hand side an apology for the poor quality of the paper, due to a mix up elsewhere!
Most of the Island newspapers published Fashionable Lists, which listed arrivals at the hotels, as well as visitors who were taking houses for the season. They also listed residents of the town. Studying these lists gives a very good insight into the chronology of streets and roads in the town. It is also possible to learn about names and numbering of houses and street name changes. Local businesses advertised from the very first, and sometimes it is possible to follow a business being passed on to a different person through these advertisements. ‘Local Scraps’ was a popular column in the Ryde Ventilator, with short pieces about events in the town. Some of these can be found on the Ryde Ventilator Gallery page. The business of the Town Council is printed in full, as are the Petty Sessions Records. You may find out more about former family members than you expected! All of these newspapers provide us with a wonderful and irreplaceable snapshot of Ryde in the past, and this is what we hope this website will bring to you. The voices of the past will be heard once again!
The first issue of the Ryde Ventilator was printed on June 3, 1871. The editor, Ebenezer Hartnell, immediately put his cards on the table and lets the public know exactly why he had founded this newspaper. Link to transcribed page The editor of the Ventilator had quite a caustic turn of phrase on occasion, and made his views on every topic very clear to his public. No one was left in any doubt as to his political leanings and views on what was happening in Ryde!
Ryde Advertisements page