The website of Historic Ryde Society, creators of Ryde District Heritage Centre, Royal Victoria Arcade, Union Street, Ryde.
Ryde District Heritage Centre
This is the Commercial room in the extension of the Centre, opened by HRH Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester last July. The vinyl on the wall is a photograph of Sweetman’s Brewery, in John Street. Many bottles and flagons, as well as shop receipts and advertisements form the major display in this room. More artefacts are being brought in on a regular basis, including the mystery object at the bottom of the page. Does anyone recognise it? If so, please shout! It has stamped on it a Victorian kite mark, dated to 1846. Obviously of a nautical nature, the piece was washed up on Ryde Sands some years ago.
The Ice Well Fund now stands at nearly £4000, thanks to a generous donation of £2000 from The Daisie Rich Trust, but there are still plenty of opportunities to raise funds. £10 will see your name on a brick, or will sponsor a foot’s length of the recycled pier planks forming part of the floor. A generous £200 will see your name, or that of a loved one, on the risers on the stairs leading down to the Centre. Temporary cards will be in place until all the sponsorship is in place. These cards will then be replaced by a permanent fixture. Spread the word! If you know of a Youth or School group which may be interested in a visit to the Centre, please get in touch with Judith, our School/Youth Liaison Officer via the Centre. Although Judith is not in the Centre on a daily basis, messages can be left for her. Telephone 01983 717435 between 11am and 4pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays, and Saturdays for further information. Risk assessment forms and worksheets are available. Organisers are welcome to visit the Centre free of charge to discuss their requirements.
The Ice Well
The Newchurch Poor Rate Books, which are held in the County Record Office at Hillside, Newport, list the owners and tenants, rates, etc., of buildings and businesses from the early 1830s. The Arcade is rated as 14 separate retail units, a Large Room (now The Lanes), a Gas House, Wine vaults and Ice Well. This ice well served Charles Dixon in 1836, who ran The Soup Room from Number 8. (Turtle soup sold at 15 shillings (75p) a quart.) Another Union Street fishmonger leased the well for several years. The well later became an opportunity for Henry Knight and his family to attend to the increasingly popular demand for confectionery in early Victorian Ryde. In October 2012, the ice well was revealed in all its glory, having been bricked up and forgotten for the last fifty or so years. In remarkable condition, and with amazing brickwork, the well has been cleared of over 10000 litres of PH 7, so long-standing, stagnant water. A large pile of wood, rubbish and silt has been removed, as well as a large amount of metalwork. So far parts belonging to a Victorian range, tools and pipes have been identified. More images on the Ryde District Heritage Centre Gallery page. Recent research on ice wells has revealed the exciting fact that this well could be unique in the British Isles! Of 2099 ice houses and wells listed in The Ice Houses of Britain, Beamon and Roaf, 1990, only two are integral to a building. One is in a house near Northallerton, of a completely different design, and the other was destroyed during WWII. A rare find indeed and worthy of public support! Watch this space…..
Volunteers always welcome!
More volunteers are always needed to help with the many tasks associated with the running of Ryde District Heritage Centre! This is a recent view of the main room, with the 1882 panorama of Ryde on the far arch. This drawing has been tripled in size, but the detail is amazing! Ryde’s five piers are easy to spot. How many seaside towns had more than one pier, let alone five! The pier still extant in Ryde is three-in-one: the promenade pier, (the one it’s possible to drive along), the tramway pier, (now derelict) and the railway pier. The other ‘lost’ pier was the Victoria, or penny pier, demolished in 1816, of which the pier bases are visible at extreme low tides, and which the hovercraft have to avoid! The fifth was Appley pier, built by William Hutt, of Appley Towers, for his personal use. If you’ve never seen an image of Appley Pier, please come down and have a look. It’s also possible to see the house which was demolished to make way for Ashleigh Gardens.
If you would like to help with Ryde District Heritage Centre, please call 01983 717435, between 11am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday. Volunteers receive full training and a Volunteer Handbook. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with computers, as volunteering in the centre brings new opportunities to learn new skills! Please get in touch if there is anything you think you may be able to do to help. Painting, vacuuming, carpentry, filling, dusting, putting pictures on the wall, being photographed and interviewed by the media, are all things volunteers have been doing recently. Work on the new extension has now begun. If you would like to help, please get in touch.