A brief history of Royal Victoria Arcade

Although the arcade was founded by William Houghton Banks, an apothecary in Ryde, who also built Vernon Square, he had borrowed heavily for the enterprise, and, facing bankruptcy, left Ryde for Belgium months after the opening ceremony. The records reveal the arcade had four owners in the 19th century: William Banks, Richard Godwin Kirkpatrick, William Woodrow and Henry Knight although a contemporary newspaper suggests a fifth, G A Hillier, an island historian.

By 1852, the owner was William Woodrow, and Henry Knight, an importer of Italian marble and alabaster, bought the arcade for £3000 in July, 1856. This was in stark contrast to the £12000 it had cost twenty years earlier! It was Henry who changed the frontage in November of that year. Henry owned the arcade until 1890, when, upon declaring himself bankrupt, he handed it over to his daughters. It came on the market in 1903.

In the twentieth century, the arcade has lain empty for several years, on more than one occasion. Sale particulars also exist for 1946.It has suffered several fires, including one during renovations in the early 1970s, and has survived more than one attempt to have it demolished. We are very lucky to have the arcade as complete as we see it today.

Letter of invitation for the Foundation Stone ceremony, 1835

Thanks for the Foundation Stone ceremony – 1835

The excitement mounts – 1836

Hampshire Telegraph April 1836 – Arcade nears completion added 14.7.10

Opening delayed – June 1836

Opening Ceremony of the Royal Victoria Arcade, 1836

Fanny Oglander’s Letter 1836

Tune: ‘Here’s a Health to All Good Lasses’. – Italian Version

Tune: ‘Here’s a Health to All Good Lasses”. – English Version

This delightful Glee song was sung after dinner at the Royal Pier Hotel on the evening of July 1, 1836. This was the end of the celebrations for the opening of the Royal Victoria Arcade. It was composed by Felice Giardini, in the 18th century.

William Lacy – photographer 1858

Henry Knight – Ryde Petty Sessions June 1864

Henry Knight – Telegraph wire severed June 25 1864

Henry Knight – Photographer – August 1874

Henry’s Tin Opener 1881

Henry Knight – Letter to the Editor of the Isle of Wight Times, January 1882

Henry Knight – Local inventions. December 1886

Henry Knight – Obituary – Observer August 10 1895

Wight Life magazine 1975 – do you remember these shops?

Saturday January 8, 2011 – The rotunda images go up!