A book entitled ‘Ryde Isle of Wight – its sports and attractions’, gives a snapshot of everything on offer at the beginning of the 20th century. Whilst no author is named, all the photographs were taken by Messrs Hughes and Mullins, of Regina House, 60 Union Street, Ryde.
‘Ryde, the largest town in the Isle of Wight, offers most unique attractions to all lovers of sport, and, to sportsmen especially. It improves upon acquaintance, although its appearance from the sea, as it greets the eye of the approaching visitor, is one of infinite charm.
‘Few places give sportsmen so many and varied opportunities of gratifying their tastes. Its beautiful situation on the Solent brings it within easy reach of London and makes it unrivalled for witnessing the chief yachting events of the year, since, here alone can the pretty vessels be followed the whole way round the longest courses, even with the naked eye. This, and the sheltered character of its waters, also explain the origin and extreme popularity in the neighbourhood of the tiny craft known as the Solent classes.
‘The town boasts of two Rowing Clubs equipped with a splendid fleet; the Pier furnishes advantages for fishing, of which opportunity is largely taken, and bathing facilities are provided by the Pier Company on Victoria Pier and by the Corporation at a public bathing stage.
‘Those whose predilections run in the direction of land, rather than of water sports, must indeed be hard to please if they cannot find amusements to their liking. Within an easy distance, there are no less than three Golf Links. The IW Gun Club, which has a large and influential membership, holds meetings weekly on its ground, which adjoins the Ashey Station of the IW Central Railway Company, and offers a rich array of valuable prizes. On the other side of the railway line is the Race Course on which the IW Hunt and the Castle Club hold meetings every year. The former provides good hunting sport during the season. The Ryde Cricket Club more than holds its own with the neighbouring Island and Mainland Clubs. The same may be said with greater truth of the Football Club. Cycling appeals to a large number of enthusiasts and there is an excellent public track around the prettily arranged Canoe Lake, the surface of which is thickly dotted with sailing and rowing boats and canoes, as well as by many model yachts. Round this track the Vectis Cycling Club has a race meeting every year which draws good entries and crowds of spectators.
‘Visitors are particularly well catered for in the matter of coaches which make circular tours of the chief points of attraction in the Island daily. The excellence of the vehicles and their cattle is fostered by an annual Horse ad Carriage Show held in the town.
‘In addition to its primary function, the promotion of yachting, the Royal Victoria Yacht Club likewise fills a large place as a social centre in the town, its annual Ball and Garden Party being two of the most popular gatherings of the kind in the year. Ryde further possesses a club which bears the name of the town, occupying handsome new premises of its own. The commodious Town Hall contains a large public room in which many successful balls are held, and not far removed therefrom is the pretty little Theatre, the only one on the Island, in which many good companies are seen. The Churches of the place are all beautiful edifices, and the services suit all creeds and all religious tastes.
‘In short, to find a town which so attracts and retains one’s interest as does Ryde, the sportsmen and the pleasure seeker in general must go very far afield, and then it is not improbable that he will fail in his search for its compeer.’
Other pages from this book can be found on the links below.
The Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club
Ryde Football and Cricket Clubs
Esplanade Gardens and Canoe Lake
Ryde Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The Ryde Club and Theatre Royal
The Isle of Wight Central Railway