1870s Leisure in Ryde

1874 Entertainments

8th JANUARY 1874

BIRRELL’S DIORAMA OF SCOTLAND – This diorama will open at the Victoria Rooms on Monday evening. We notice the London press have passed high eulogisms upon it. At Dover it had a long and most successful run, and the Dover Standard describes it as a magnificent pictorial exhibition, faithfully representing the enchanting scenery. There is a clear lucid lecture and a Scottish concert that is in itself a rare treat. Anything more positive as to the professional ability and reputation of these minstrels could not, we should think, be given than in the fact that Miss Griselda WESS and Mr Thomas BIRRELL  (the enterprising proprietor) were especially engaged to sing at M RIVIERE’S promenade concert at Covent Garden on Saturday evening last, when, we observe, they took a leading part in the performance, their names standing side by side with those of Mddle Carlotta PATTI, Mddle Victoria BUNSEN, and Miss Constance LESEBY. Miss WESS has been termed “the Scottish Nightingale”, Mr J CRAWFORD’S humour is the driest of the dry, and anything but the heartiest of encores for him is out of the question. The other artistes are scarcely inferior.

22nd JANUARY 1874

…..One of the men in the employ of Mr BIRRELL proprietor of the Diorama on view at the Victoria Rooms, applied to the court asking whether if a summons were taken out or warrant issued on a boy named WHITTINGSTALL, the case could be heard of at once and disposed of. – It appeared that the young urchin had been employed to clean the Victoria Rooms, and that he had managed to extract a number of tickets from a box there: these he sold for 2d and 3d to different persons. Such a number attended with the tickets that suspicions were aroused, and a number of tickets were found on the boy. – Mr FARDELL said it was a case which could not be disposed of summarily but must go for trial if the charge were preferred. Probably the boy will escape punishment, as Mr BIRRELL might be far away during the sessions.


MR AND MRS GERMAN REED – It will be seen by an advertisement in another column that Mr Augustus Aylward has made arrangements with Mr and Mrs German Reed to give their well-known entertainment at the New Town-hall on Monday evening next. The pieces announced to be performed are Mildred’s well – a Romance of the Middle Ages (XIX) century, a new musical sketch called the School Feast, and a musical proverb, Charity begins at Home. The names of the artistes announced to appear are a sufficient guarantee for the excellence of the performance. They include Miss Fanny Holland, Mr W A Law, Mr Alfred Reed, and Mr Corney Grain. The Isle of Wight Railway Company will run a special train on the occasion, leaving Ryde, (St John’s) station for the different towns on the line at 10.30 pm.

HARP RECITALS – We again remind our readers that Mr Aptommas, the celebrated harpist, will appear at the Town-hall on Tuesday evening next. Mr Aptommas is well known for his masterly performances on the harp; and has performed before Royalty on several occasions. This opportunity should not be missed by those desirous of hearing a real musical treat.

THE BLONDINETTE MELODISTS – This celebrated company of “young ladies with golden locks” (11 in number) are advertised to appear in their vocal and instrumental entertainment at the Town-hall on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday next, July 30th and 31st, and August 1st. This attractive troupe have visited Ryde before; and we have no doubt that they will attract large audiences during their present visit by their refined and pleasing entertainment. The press are unanimous in its approval of their performances.

The Right Hon Sir William and Lady Hutt gave a garden party in the beautiful grounds of Appley Towers on Thursday, when a large and fashionable gathering took place.

The Mayor of Ryde and Mrs Leach gave a garden party on Wednesday, when a large number of the elite of the town and neighbourhood were present. The fine band of the Royal Marine Artillery were on the grounds and performed a choice selection of music.

1 AUGUST 1874

THE BLONDINETTE MELODISTS – This company of young ladies attracted a large audience at the Town-hall on Thursday evening. They appear this (Friday) evening, and tomorrow (Saturday). Those who have not yet seen this talented troupe should not miss this opportunity.


MISS NANNIE PRAEGER – was announced to give a grand pianoforte recital in the Town Hall, on Friday afternoon, but as there was no audience – she did not do so.

8 August 1874

MRS SCOTT-SIDDONS – As will be seen by reference to advertisement, this talented lady will give one of her histrionic readings in the new Town-hall this (Saturday) afternoon, at 3 o’clock. She will be accompanied by the youthful prodigy, “Seraphael,” the celebrated boy pianist who has won bronze and silver medals at the Royal Academy of Music.

SKATING IN MID-SUMMER – At the best of times it is not long that the privilege of skating is afforded to the inhabitants of this south-coast district during the short and generally mild winters which are vouchsafed to us; but – astonishing as it might seem – the luxury of skating exercise may be (and is) enjoyed in the midst of the summer, and with this advantage – that there is no fear of being submerged beneath the treacherous ice. The roller skating which is now being practised in the Victoria-rooms (on the American principle) is exceedingly good physical exercise, and the elegant and graceful manner in which the ladies and gentlemen flit about the room has a most pleasing effect, not only to those engaged but also to the on-looker. To those who are fond of skating we recommend the “rink” at the Victoria-rooms.

15 AUGUST 1874

SKATING RINK AT THE VICTORIA ROOMS – The rink is assuredly a novelty that will wear. It combines the pleasures of the ballroom with the advantages of the gymnasium, and is a delight at once both to young and old people. It is one of the few contrivances which the genius of amusement has supplied to youth to which the doctors do not take exception. Last week there was the most fashionable attendance; the skating of many of the ladies was excellent; the merriment was profuse, and all were alike enchanted. Certainly the rink is an invention – assuredly it is a success. Long may it wave!

24 OCTOBER 1874


These Rooms are OPEN until further notice
On the American Principle.
In the Morning, for Ladies and Gentlemen, from 11 to 1; Afternoon Assemblies for Ladies, Gentlemen and Children, from 3 to 5.30.
Admission, One Shilling. Hire of Skates, Sixpence.

26 DECEMBER 1874

THE SKATING RINK – This novelty still continues to attract large numbers to the Victoria-rooms. An additional attraction will be provided tomorrow (Saturday), the splendid band of the Royal Marines being engaged to play upon the occasion.

THE THEATRE – It is with great pleasure we announce that our fine theatre, which has so long been deserted, has been purchased by a number of local gentlemen, who, it is stated, have secured it upon very reasonable terms. No time will be lost in opening the building, and we trust that in the hands of those who have a better opportunity of understanding local requirements than strangers, the theatre will be a greater success than it was.

THE VIENNESE LADIES’ ORCHESTRA – The novelty of a performance by such a large number of ladies as compose this orchestra, attracted a numerous and fashionable audience to the Town-hall on Thursday afternoon. It is impossible to speak too highly of their performance, and so enthusiastic were the audience, that it has been determined to give morning and evening concerts on Saturday, which will no doubt be well attended.

CONCERT – On Tuesday evening the Ryde contingent of the Crystal Palace choir gave a concert in the Town-hall, consisting of pieces which had already been sung at the Crystal Palace, interspersed with songs, &c. The soloists were Miss DENHAM, and Mr BULLEY. Mrs MOODY acted as accompanist. There were about 500 persons present.


In Her Histrionic Readings
(Bronze and Silver Medalist, Royal Academy of Music, London.)
Doors Open at 2.30. Commence at 3 o’clock.
Centre Stalls, 4s; Family Tickets of four, 14s;
Second Seats, 2s 6d; Admission 1s.
Plan and Tickets at AYLWARD’S, Union-street.

13 AUGUST 1874

MRS SCOTT-SIDDONS – Mrs Scott-Siddons was advertised to appear, together with the wonderful boy pianist “Seraphael”, at the Town Hall, on Saturday afternoon; but shortly before the time for commencing, notices postponing the entertainment were circulated broadcast. Our readers will regret to hear that Mrs Siddons a short time since was thrown from her horse and had her spine injured, and that a few days ago, for a throat complaint, a quantity of caustic was administered in mistake for brandy and caustic: her servant removing the glass containing the brandy on clearing the dinner table. Mrs Siddons persisted up to Saturday morning that she would appear as announced, but the state of her health put a veto on it. Purchasers of tickets can have their money refunded on returning the tickets to Mr Aylward.

1875 Entertainments

1 JULY 1875

MATINEE DANSANTE DE MADAME DE HAYES GEORGE – Hearing so much of Madame George, and her Academie, we availed ourselves of an opportunity on Friday of witnessing a Matinee Dansante in the New Town Hall, in which, during several of the past winter seasons, Madame George has held her Academie. Not only were we not disappointed in our anticipations, but intensely gratified. A large number of the elite of the town and neighbourhood assembled to witness the progress their little sons and daughters (there was a preponderance of daughters) had made, and gratified to the fullest extent all must have been at the result, whilst the dansante in itself was a capital entertainment. The area of that large room is not more than is required for her large class. The programme was as follows:
Part 1

  1. March The Men of Harlech
  2. Quadrille Palermo
  3. Polka Mazurka Marie
  4. Exercises La Lyre d’Apollon
  5. Dancers La Fille de Mdme Angot
  6. Mazurka Quadrille Julien
  7. Galop a trios temps Chimes

Part 2

  1. Imperial Quadrille Louis d’Egville
  2. Valse a trios temps Doctrinen
  3. Parisian Quadrille Gorilla
  4. 11.Galop Saucy Kate
  5. Polonaise The Gipsy

The march, the young ladies advancing in three rows from the back to the front of the room, and then receding, was very pretty, and with the series of exercises (No 4), form a most important feature in the class. The exercises eclipse the march in attractiveness, but the objects effected in both cases are a true lady-like deportment, and muscular development – and Madame George has, evidently, the power of imparting to others such a grace as she herself possesses in a marked degree. The dancing – dancing to the perfection to which the pupils are taught in this case – is an accomplishment almost a necessity for them) which they will value more when a few years have added to their youth and beauty – but the calisthenic exercises promote grace of movement and strength of body. Madame George has strong recommendation from the medical profession as to the beneficial effects on the health of children (by expanding the chest, exercising every joint, &c.), and the deportment, from the exercises through which she puts her pupils; and we can say that such exercises must be most valuable, and that not only on Friday was there grace in every step, but in their every movement. In the mainly ornamental part of the programme, the mazurka quadrille was the thing of the afternoon, and the company could not refrain from a loud burst of applause, which both children and mistress fully deserved. The eight who danced this were in white dresses with blue sashes (from shoulder to waist) and head ribbons, and the top “gentleman” specially distinguished “her”-self, though all acquitted themselves in first-class style, with an effect that was wonderfully pretty and interesting. Many a ballet on the stage is not nearly so attractive. In other portions of the programme every pupil present joined, creating a strikingly pretty spectacle – with the sun shining through the sky-lights on the fairy-like forms, in tastily-made white dresses, tripping over the floor. It was most amusing too to watch the zest and emulation with which some, mere babes, with their radiant faces, and sparkling eyes, entered upon their duties. The pupils were evidently in different stages, but each was perfected so far as she had gone, in spite of the largeness of the class – none had been neglected. The way in which the Imperial Quadrille, Lancers, &c., was gone through deserves especial mention – en passant we think that if ladies and gentlemen who dance 16-Lancers were to take a few lessons before they next do so they might hope to attain to the perfection they desire, and equal these juveniles – which is rarely the case – but in all cases here, it was noticeable that the dancing was not simply to a set form of steps, &c.,into which they had been drilled, but to music. We consider the pupils fortunate in being able to receive Madame George’s tuition – they could hardly be better taught, that is evident from the perfection they have attained, and her modus operandi  – the pupils certainly do her credit. Madame George, who is a daughter of Monsieur de Hayes, of the Academie Royale, Paris, and pupil of Madame Louise Michau, of London; and who has taught in London and abroad, is evidently an artiste and not an ordinary teacher – Miss Kirkman, (niece of Mrs Anderson, pianist to the Queen) presided at the pianoforte. – Between the first and second parts, refreshments were provided for the pupils, this being the first meeting of the season.


A SKATING RINK IN RYDE – We are pleased to find that an open air skating rink, which must prove a source of interest and attraction to residents and visitors, has been opened in Ryde. It is a private speculation, the proprietors being Col. Hall and Mr West; we hope they will be amply repayed, for additional attractions are wanted in Ryde to counteract the drawbacks. The rink is a very large one, and of best Portland cement, and all the latest improvements are introduced. In the centre the space is to be utilized for a band stand and garden, and when completed, the rink, (which is situated on the marshes, near the Gas Works, and accessible via Monkton Street or St John’s Park) will be a superior one in every respect. Wednesday last was the opening day, and the proprietors must have been gratified to see about 500 ladies and gentlemen attending, the bulk of them enjoying themselves at the exciting and health giving exercise. The annual subscription is very low, and therefore we expect soon to see a long list. Even spectators may spend an hour or two most enjoyably at the rink, especially on the days when a military band is in attendance – Wednesdays and Saturdays. The “Plimpton” skate is used. Further particulars are afforded elsewhere.


A GRAND OPERATIC CONCERT – was given in the Town Hall on Thursday evening – one of the best it has been our good fortune to hear – but as usual when there are first-class entertainments, the attendance was miserably small, especially in the front benches, where one would have expected to find most. We are not so much concerned at Mr Aylward’s continued losses as at the fact that the first-class entertainments must cease in Ryde, and those who could and would enjoy them miss real musical treats. – The artistes were Mddle Jose Sherrington, Miss Helen d’Alton, Signor M Rocca, Signor Bianchi, and Signor Brignoll (of Her Majesty’s Opera), with Cavaliere Campana as conductor. If people do not care to attend, we presume they would not read a critique, so we save ourselves unnecessary trouble.

The Skating craze 1876


ANOTHER SKATING RINK– Encouraged by the success of the private speculation Skating Rink at St John’s, and of others in towns far and near, an effort is now being made in Ryde to secure a second rink – with all the latest improvements – this is to be in a central position, viz., on the piece of ground at the back of Yelf’s Hotel, Union Street, and between St Thomas’ Church and Brigstocke Terrace. Seeing how much there has been, and is, to retard rather than further the prosperity of Ryde, and how few are our attractions as compared with what they might be, and as compared with younger and smaller, but thriving neighbouring watering places, we heartily wish success may crown the above effort. If the “through communication” difficulty were but finally settled, many things might, and would have to be done here, to enable us to hold our own, to say nothing of moving onwards, and courting successfully. We applaud, therefore, the boldness of the promoters of the scheme, at this time, and can hardly doubt that, looking at our fashionable residents and fashionable visitors, the speculation will be remunerative to the proprietors, and beneficial to the town: we hope it will. Roller skating in the open is not only a health-giving exercise, but a most enjoyable one, and there are attractions, besides, which can only be experienced and fully appreciated on the rink. Then it establishes a meeting point from January to December, whereas that of the pier head exists only in fine weather. We have long desired to see an Aquarium, with its many branch attractions – which prove so beneficial to many other watering places – but, perhaps, rinks are the next best things; and if the projectors’ ideas are carried out, there will be attached to this rink a gymnasium, reading rooms, and attractive garden. A small select meeting held a few weeks ago speedily resolved on the desirability, &c., and took certain preliminary steps. A larger meeting of inhabitants – gentlemen and large tradesmen – convened by circular, followed on Wednesday evening, at the Pier Hotel, when Mr Erskine was “carried” to the chair, and Mr J W Fardell detailed the steps already taken. It was announced that Mr Robert Yelf, sen., to whom the above-mentioned ground belongs, had cordially fallen in with the idea, and offered to lease the land for five years at £100 per annum, with a renewal of the lease at the end of that term, subject to a Royalty on the nett profits over and above 10%, if such there should be. – From what was stated by Mr Hands, it would appear that if a large number of inhabitants do not take a special interest in the rink, which they should do, that half-a-dozen, including Mr Hands, are quite prepared to risk the venture. A Committee of thirteen was appointed to prepare a prospectus for approval, preparatory to the forming of a company, and there can be no doubt that the shares will be very speedily appropriated when once offered. – We should be sorry to see the St John’s Rink sink, but a lowering of charges will probably make it as successful as the other must be. There is quite sufficient class distinction in Ryde to create a necessity for at least two rinks, and we believe there is ample room for a third grade affair. The following extract from the World may not be inappropriately quoted here:- The following ‘Poem picked up at Prince’s, though, in truth, it has but little poetry in it, shows how quickly a just retribution will sometimes overtake rash young gentlemen, who attempt to take liberties with the English language during “a cruise upon wheels:”

“There is rank on the rink,” said young Brown with a wink,
People stared, and they thought he was drunk;
On the rink then he rank, and came down with a spank,
Sincerely repenting he’d runk.

Rinkualism is becoming such a serious fact, that paterfamilias will find it constitutes an important item in household expenses. There is at present in Brighton a family of eight daughters, all of whom are most energetic and accomplished patineuses. A young friend of mine, with a turn for statistics, has made a calculation that if these young ladies were to rink three-hundred days in the course of the year, and twice a day, as many of them do, it would cost their papa £240 a year, even if he had presented each of them with a pair of skates, for which he would probably pay £2 each. Possibly, however, what is spent in rinking is saved in other ways. The fly-drivers, the proprietors of livery stables, and the shopkeepers complain grievously of the counter-attractions of the rink. The season, which has just come to a close, was an unusually full one, but never has money been less spent in town. Everything was neglected for “a cruise upon wheels”. Meanwhile, the rinkographers go on and prosper; a fifth rink was opened the other day at the Corn exchange, and it is said there are several more in prospect.


THE NEW SKATING RINK – We recently referred to the possibility of a new rink being constructed on the piece of land owned by Mr Yelf, at the back of Wavell’s Hotel and between Union and St Thomas’ Streets. We are glad to find that a company is now being formed to carry out this work. The main rink will be in the centre of the ground, with entrances from both the above streets, and will be well lit with gas for evening skating. On one side will be a smaller and covered rinkfor use in wet weather, and adjacent will be waiting and refreshment rooms &c., and reading, billiard and smoking rooms are included in the scheme, and the erections are to be of an ornamental character though not extravagantly costly. Messrs F Newman and R J Jones are to be the architects. As the shares are to be issued at £5, it will afford the inhabitants generally an opportunity of participating in the profits of the undertaking, and the greater the number of holders the greater the success. Whilst wishing continued prosperity to the St John’s rink, we hope speedily to see the central rink a reality; for we need, not one, but many attractions if we are to hold the ground left us to stand on.


ROLLER SKATES – A case relative to the roller skates now so much used in rinks has been decided by the Master of the Rolls. Mr Plimpton, an American, took out a patent for them in August, 1865, and he now sought to restrain Mr Malcomson, of Brighton, from infringing that patent. The defendant attacked the plaintiff’s patent on various grounds, but chiefly because his invention was said to have been known in this country before he applied for the grant of letters. The Master of the Rolls, however, decided against the contention, and only suspended the issue of an injunction for the time necessary the defendant to move for a new trial. We understand that in consequence of this decision it has been resolved to abandon all idea of forming another rink here, as Capt. Hall has the sole right to use the Plimpton skate in this town.


THE SKATING RINK AT THE VICTORIA ROOMS – This rink has been upon the whole very well patronized during the week, but is now closed until Monday in order that the floor may be prepared so as to make it more suitable for skating. All who have used Mr Harrington’s skates have expressed their satisfaction with them, and say they are equal to Plimpton’s, and far superior in lightness. We trust that a great monopoly will now be broken up, and the healthy exercise of the rink more generally extended. Mr Harrington’s skates are not like some of those patented, which are so much like Plimpton’s that it is almost impossible to tell them apart. On the contrary, the most superficial glance is sufficient to show that this principle is entirely different. We trust that in throwing down “The Gauntlet” Mr Harrington may be successful in defending what is undoubtedly a most original invention.


THE ISLE OF WIGHT SKATING RINK – THE RINK will be OPEN on THURSDAY EVENINGS from 6.0pm to 8.30pm; on Saturday, from 3.30pm to 6pm, when by the kind permission of Col Fitzgerald, and officers, the Band of the 49th Regt will perform a selection of music. – Admission, ONE SHILLING; Use of Skates, SIXPENCE.
Overture Rossini’s Stabat Mater – Mercadante
Valse Am Schooen Rhein – Keler  Bela
Reminiscences of Rossini – Godfrey
Cornet SoloHurricane – Nich olson
Valse Kunstler Leben – Strauss
Selection La Forza Del Destino – Verdi
Galop Always Joyful – Hecker


THE SKATING RINK – In spite of the heat, the Skating Rink in the marshes still continues very well patronized, more especially when the band plays. The rink is now tastefully laid out and is a pleasant resort even for those who do not skate. To-day (Saturday) the band of the 26th Cameronians will play from 4 till 6.30.

NEW RECREATION GROUND – The Mayor has rented a piece of ground in the Marshes adjoining the skating rink, and places it at the disposal of the inhabitants for a limited period, for the purpose of recreation from 12 noon till 9 at night. Persons guilty of using bad language, gambling, injuring the fences, or bringing intoxicating liquors on the ground will be immediately turned of. No children will be admitted during school hours, and all disputes will be settled by the Mayor whose decision will be final, and all those refusing to act upon it will not be allowed again on the ground. The conditions are not hard ones, and we are sure the public generally ought to be grateful to his worship. We do not like to “look a gift horse in the mouth”, but we think his worship would confer a greater boon, if he would open the ground early in the morning. Many would be glad to play a game of cricket in the mornings before breakfast.


A few minutes’ walk from the Pier, along the Esplanade, or by Tram, calling at the Rink from the Railway Station and Pier.
Morning Classes for Ladies..11.0 to 1.0
Afternoon Assemblies… 3.0 to 5.30
Thursday Evening.. 6.0 to 8.30
Admission, 1s.- Use of Skates, 6d.


MR AND MRS GERMAN REED – This is the last opportunity we have of reminding our readers of the visit of these popular artistes to Ryde, where they appear in their refined entertainment at the Town Hall on Wednesday and Thursday evenings next. Mr and Mrs German Reed will be supported by Miss Fanny Holland, Mr A E Bishop, Mr Alfred Reed, and Mr Corney Grain; and among the attractions of the programme are two new musical sketches by Mr Corney Grain entitled, “A Musical Bee”, and “Slaves of the Rink”. We hope Mr Aylward will have crowded houses.

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