Giving Ryde's past to the Future

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo

Easy Fund Raising Logo


Cyril the sea Serpent on Ryde Pier

The railings on the pier were installed in 1895. It is believed the shelters were built at the same time, by Isaac Barton, a Mayor of Ryde, to a design by local architect Thomas Hellyer. Cyril the sea serpent is the guide for the Children's Page of the website. - Railings
Ryde Entertainment

Fine Art Exhibition at Ryde 1881

The inhabitants of 19th century Ryde enjoyed entertainment............... Bands played on the pier every evening, There were plays in the Theatre, concerts in the Town Hall, lectures and exhibitions in the Victoria Rooms and circuses on the Strand from the 1850s onwards. Local gentry also held balls and soirees in their homes - descriptions of which appeared in the local press the following week. Celebrities came from Paris and London to appear in Ryde - Mrs Jordan, Ellen Terry, Oscar Wilde, General Tom Thumb, The Christy Minstrels all appeared in Ryde following successful runs in London and over seas........Ryde was the place to be after London, Paris, New York! Hairdressers and other businessmen also followed the same route. - Ryde Entertainment
Original Logo

The original artwork for the logo was drawn by Lynne Phillips from a design on two shelters on Ryde Pier, and adapted by Depth.

Historic Ryde Society Logo

The original logo copyright Lynne Phillips

Cyril the Sea Serpent on Ryde Pier

  - Original Logo
The Brigstocke China

All images reproduced with permission of IW Heritage Service, to whom we are very grateful.

Brigstoke Terrace China Group front view

The Brigstocke China comprises pieces collected by the family over many years, reflecting catholic tastes.

Brigstoke Terrace China Group side view

Brigstoke Terrace China Group reverse view

Brigstoke Terrace China Hare

Brigstoke Terrace China Horse - The Brigstocke China


All images reproduced with permission of IW Heritage Service, to whom we are very grateful.

A gown worn by a recent Mayor of the Borough of Ryde.

Ryde Borough Mayor's Robe

Ryde Town Sergeant's Hat.

Ryde Town Sargent Top Hat

Royal Ryde

Royal Ryde, the link to Queen Victoria.

The Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria, first brought her to stay at Norris Castle on the Isle of Wight in 1831. When it was decided to build the arcade in Ryde, Princess Victoria was asked whether she would agree to it being named for her. This is why, at the rear of the arcade, there is a window with a monogram PV - Princess Victoria.

The Princess Victoria Window Royal Victoria Arcade

The crest on the front of the arcade is that of Princess Victoria. A similar crest can be seen in Bath, much smaller and less colourful than the one in Ryde. The lion and the unicorn are also facing different directions.

Etching from 1874 of Crown Prince and Princess

  - Royal Ryde
Historic Photographs

Young Boy by Matthews

Child photographed by Matthews
Child photographed by Matthews

Child on a horse Photographed by Knight

More  historic photographs appear in the  Galleries.

Child photographed by Knight - Historic Photographs
Local Newspapers

Ventilator Royals visit July 19 1873

Ryde and the Isle of Wight have a long history of local newspaper printing. The Isle of Wight Observer was begun in 1846, although not established until 1852.  It was printed at The Colonnade, Ryde by George and subsequently, Hannah Butler. From the first issue, Fashionable Lists were printed weekly to show residents and visitors who was in town. The Isle of Wight Times, Ventilator, Mercury, Isle of Wight Advertiser, and County Press followed at later dates. These newspapers, or images of them, can be consulted at the Isle of Wight County Record Office, Newport.

There are also newspapers with Isle of Wight articles which can be viewed on the British Library website British Newspapers Online - Local Newspapers

Royal Visitors in Ryde

It is said that the Duchess of Kent first brought her daughter to the Isle of Wight so that she did not attend the coronation of her Uncle, William IV. On this, and subsequent occasions, they stayed at Norris Castle, in East Cowes.

It is also known that Victoria used rooms in The Royal Kent Hotel, now the Royal Squadron, on at least one occasion.

Etching of the Royal Kent Hotel, Union Street, Ryde - Royal visitors
The Royal Victoria Arcade

The Royal Victoria Arcade - Victorian Timeline, the first 70 years of the Royal Victoria Arcade from the laying of the foundation stone to 1903

An etching of the original arcade frontage

1835 -May - Foundation Stone Ceremony
1836 - July - Opening Ceremony
1856 - July - Henry Knight buys the arcade for £3000
1856 - October - frontage altered
1857 - October - William Lacy the first Arcade photographer moves into a workshop in the basement
1862 -  March - Cornelius Jabez Hughes takes over Number 6 after Lacy's death, in November 1861
1864 -  Henry Knight's Fairy Fountain in the rotunda

An etching of the 1840s arcade interior

1880 - Henry patents tin opener and sells it to Crosse and Blackwell
1890 - Henry Knight goes bankrupt and hands over the arcade to his daughters
1895 - Death of Henry Knight
1903 - Arcade up for sale - The Royal Victoria Arcade
Ryde District Heritage Centre Opening times

From April to September Ryde District Heritage Centre will be open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm.

The Donald McGill collection will be open soon. Further information will be available in due course.

The website of Ryde District Heritage Centre

Historic Ryde Society


The last month is fitted in place in the rotunda ceiling – January 13, 2011.

Formed in October 2009, the Society was created to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Victoria Arcade, in July 2011. It was decided to raise funds for a dedicated heritage centre in Ryde. After the arcade basement was chosen, 12 local artists were commissioned to each create an image reflecting the months of the year. These are the images which appear at the bottom of this page throughout the year, and they are available as notelets or cards via the shop page here. They were installed in the rotunda of the arcade in January 2011. The Society became a registered charity, number 1153947, in September, 2013. It has an ever increasing membership, and events are held throughout the year. If you wish to raise funds for HRS, please sign up for localgiving here or easyfundraising here.

Ryde District Heritage Centre


Lady Lucinda Lambton and Andrew Turner MP, celebrate the open space with Andrew, Tony and Rhea, as Queen Victoria.

A three day celebration marked the Royal Victorian Ryde 2011 weekend, when the empty basement was officially opened by Andrew Turner, MP, and Lady Lucinda Lambton, three x great grand-daughter of Lord Lambton, Radical Jack! –  who laid the foundation stone of the building in May 1835. A wonderful connection! The refurbishment of the basement was made possible thanks to a grant from the Ryde Townscape Heritage Initiative, funded jointly by the IW Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The creation of Ryde District Heritage Centre was funded initially by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Centre opened to the public on Monday, August 15, 2011. Run by volunteers, the Centre won awards from the Isle of Wight Community Action group in 2012 and 2013.


Sally-Ann and her newly-discovered New Zealand cousin.

This image shows Sally-Ann, one of the volunteers, meeting for the first time a New Zealand cousin who visited the Centre in the summer.  There are many different opportunities for volunteers. If you would like to help, please get in touch via the website, , or call the Heritage Centre on 01983 717435 during opening hours. Volunteers are given full training, a lovely green t-shirt!, and a fleece for the winter months!


John, Tony and Alan pottering in the Centre

In October 2012, an internal, integral ice well in the arcade was exposed for the first time in many years. Funds are being raised in order to open it up for the general public, and it is hoped to recreate the Georgian confectionery, which would have existed at the time of building. All donations welcome!
Sponsorship opportunities to help with the Ice Well Fund are available. £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 used until all the sponsorship is in place. These cards will then be replaced by a permanent fixture. Spread the word!

Brian installs the panoramic image July 4 2013

Brian installs the panoramic image July 4 2013

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 for further information. Other local interest groups are also welcome. Coffee mornings or presentations to local groups at a venue of their choice can be arranged.
Risk assessment forms and worksheets are available. Organisers are welcome to visit the Centre free of charge to discuss their requirements.


The County Press photographer takes a snap of the Heritage Centre volunteers during Volunteer Week, June 2013

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 done. Behind the scenes work is an ongoing process. If you would like to help, please get in touch.


Wightlink staff join in the fun

Joining together with James from the Donald McGill Postcard Museum in 2011, Historic Ryde Society created a bit of free fun for the general public! Founder member Lynne Gregory Phillips painted four boards reminiscent of the saucy seaside postcards created by the late Donald McGill. Thanks to local businessman Wayne Whittle and his staff, and Wightlink, these boards have enjoyed successful summer seasons!
HRS Vice Chair Brian Harris has perfected the stands for the boards and screwed buckets to them for donations, and the total has now passed £1100!


Historic Ryde Society hosts fundraising activities on a rolling basis throughout the year. The last Thursday of every month is the pub quiz in Yelf’s hotel, Union Street. £3 a head – people are encouraged to come on their own or to bring a team. There is always a raffle to raise extra funds. The monthly quiz will take place in Yelf’s on April 24. Details on the diary page.

New display at RDHC

One of the new displays Ryde District Heritage Centre

 April by Jan

April by Jan

Deconsecration of Holy Trinity Church, Dover Street, Ryde 2014

Deconsecration of Holy Trinity Church, Dover Street, Ryde 2014

Future Events
7:00 PM Pub Quiz – Yelf’s Hotel @ Yelf's Hotel
Pub Quiz – Yelf’s Hotel @ Yelf's Hotel
Apr 24 @ 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Pub Quiz Every last Thursday in the month. Yelf’s Hotal – 7pm - £3 a head - Come on your own or bring a team - Raffle as usual. [...]
7:30 PM Folk Night – Friday 16th May 2014 @ Blacksheep Lounge Bar
Folk Night – Friday 16th May 2014 @ Blacksheep Lounge Bar
May 16 @ 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM
‘Folk Night’ Venue: BlackSheep Lounge Bar Union Street Ryde Cost: TBA Tickets will be limited so please buy early!! There will be a fundraising Raffle. [...]
7:00 PM Pub Quiz – Yelf’s Hotel @ Yelf's Hotel
Pub Quiz – Yelf’s Hotel @ Yelf's Hotel
May 22 @ 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Pub Quiz Every last Thursday in the month. Yelf’s Hotal – 7pm - £3 a head - Come on your own or bring a team - Raffle as usual. [...]

View Calendar

Heritage Centre Opening
HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester opened the first extension of Ryde District Heritage Centre on Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andrew and Brian chat to HRH The Duke of Gloucester and the Lord Lieutenant

The logo was drawn by Lynne Phillips from a design on the two shelters on Ryde Pier, and digitised by Depth.

Historic Ryde Society Logo

Former Mayor Brian Harris and one of the original 40 Cyrils on Ryde Pier