Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Report on the April Meeting

Fred Caws' Talk on Ryde Water Works
Fred Caws' Talk on Ryde Water Works

On April 12th we held our quarterly Members’ meeting at 10:30am at the George Street Centre. Thirty-three members and 6 guests attended the meeting.

Welcome – David welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Chairperson’s Report
Janette gave the Chairperson’s report and explained that much had been happening during the last quarter but there is little to show the membership just yet. However after much hard work:
* The book is finally ready to be taken to the printers.
* The artwork for the Interpretation Panel for the Display Case in Ryde Cemetery is also ready to go to the printers.
* The Board of the Cemetery Restoration Project have asked Janette to represent RSHG on the Board and Janette said she was grateful to Janis Mundell the Project Coordinator, and Kathie Gibbs, chair of the Friends of Ryde Cemetery (FORC) group for their support.
* FORC Activity Day in Ryde Cemetery on Saturday 5th April was a success and several members of RSHG attended. There was grave clearing and the old (mortuary) chapel and the north chapel were open to the public. There were also displays of the proposals for the restoration work.
* Janette said that she hoped this would be the beginning of a new co-operation and working relationship between RSHG and The Friends of Ryde Cemetery (FORC).
* We are planning an Open Day as part of Ryde Arts Festival Week, on Sunday 6th July this will be a joint effort between RSHG, FORC and the Project Board, there will be exhibition materials, artwork, guided walks and grave clearing.
* Archive Ambassadors – IW and Hants Records Offices have appointed a Community Archive Officer to co-ordinate a project called Living Links. One aspect of this project is to offer training to groups like ours. We have nominated Ann Barrett, leader of our research group to take up the training on our behalf.
* National Federation of Cemetery Friends AGM – In June the NFCF are holding their AGM in London and Janette said she would attend, it is a good opportunity to meet up with other groups and share experiences.
* Heritage Open Days – Following on from the success of our Open days last year we are planning to do the same this year and build on the success. This year we will work in conjunction with the FORC and the Restoration Project Board.
* Project Celebration and Book Launch – Janette said that the most pressing thing for the immediate future was preparing for the Project Celebration Evening and Book Launch. This is likely to be in the last week of May, exact date and venue to be confirmed later. Roy Brinton has kindly offered to give an illustrated presentation of ‘potted biographies’ of some of the people buried in Ryde Cemetery. UPDATE NOTE: The evening is now likely to be on Friday 6th June.

Membership Report – David reported that at present we have fifty-six Members, a small but very welcome increase in our numbers since January.

Finance Report – At present we have £9,174.34, but this will soon start to reduce. The printing of the book will take a large chunk of the money as will the project celebration event.


Mapping – David reported the surveying and mapping of the Old Cemetery to the south of the main carriageway is now complete. On the north side there is still some work to be done, but we should soon have the whole of the Old Parish Cemetery and the Old Cemetery mapped.
Copies of all the RSHG maps and Alpha indexes, produced to date, were forwarded to the IWC to assist the Project we are told that the HLF are very impressed with them.

Transcribing – Janette advised the transcribing group had reached its target of 4000 individual records by mid November and at the end of November took a break for the winter. The group recommenced work at the beginning of March and there are now 4,453 records on the website.

Research – In the last three months 214 names have been researched and information added to the website. 74 amendments and additions have also been made to records. The Looking Back feature is up to date with snippets for April 100 and 150 years ago now showing. The Research Group also helps many people with enquiries.

Natural History – Carol at said that at the end of January we took part in the annual RSPB Garden Bird Watch and recorded 14 different species of birds in the cemetery on a very cold but sunny Saturday morning. The national results have just been published and we recorded 8 out of the top 10 species. The full results of our findings are on the website.
The nature pages on the website have been completely redesigned and a new feature, The Nature Diary, added in March. This diary details the plants and animals seen in the cemetery in each month together with photographs and paintings. Once a month a nature walk will take place in the cemetery to record the wildlife, but if anyone spots anything new at any time please let us know. Anyone interested in taking part in the walks please let us know. Any experts would be most welcome, but anyone can join in. The walks are just a pleasant stroll through the cemetery for a couple of hours and its worth it just to see the wide variety of wildlife making the cemetery its home.

Publications – Carol reported that the book Ryde’s Heritage, Our Town, Your Histories has been completed and is about to be taken to the printers. A tremendous effort has been put in by the small publications team over the last three months to achieve this and we are looking forward to seeing the book published.
This quarter’s newsletter (free to members) is about some of the Mayors of Ryde. We know there are many more buried in Ryde Cemetery and we will continue to research these too.
The publications team is working on several exciting projects and are busy preparing new exhibition sheets from the vast amount of research Ann’s team has done, and preparing the nature diary for the natural history team.
This small team desperately needs additional members to help write, design and edit these projects. If you would like to help then please contact Carol. We usually meet on a Saturday and no previous experience is needed, just come and have a go.


After the business of the meeting was complete Fred Caws gave an interesting presentation on the history of the water supply to Ryde and the small matter of dealing with the waste.

The meeting closed at 12:30 and the next meeting will be on Saturday 12th July at 10:30am at the George Street Centre, Ryde.