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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April 2009 Members’ Meeting

Twenty-nine members and six non-members attended our meeting on 18 April 2009

Twenty-nine members and six non-members attended our meeting on 18 April 2009.

Janette Gregson, Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and reported that much work has been done by the various groups since the last.

An exciting new project under way, an Audio Trail for Ryde which is being produced as part of a Living Links Project in association with the Isle of Wight Record Office and Hampshire Archives Trust. The work of this project is ongoing and anyone is welcome to come along and help produce the trail, which we aim to launch ready for the Walking Festival 2010. We are currently working on the script outlines and this will be followed by development of the script. The final script will be sent to ATS Heritage, a company on the mainland, proficient in creating audio trails for historic attractions around the country and they will produce the audio files. The Ryde Audio Trail will be available for free download in MP3 format from various websites and will be of interest to visitors and locals who are curious about the history of Ryde.

Another current focus is Ryde History Week, to take place during the first week of May, and which has been organised by Carol, our Publications Group Leader. Carol has encouraged RSHG members and other local groups to get participate in Ryde History Week.

The finance report showed that we still have a healthy bank balance at present.

Kate MacDonell, the Membership Secretary, was going to report that since January, we have had one new member. However, to our delight, two new members joined this morning, so we are able to welcome Paul Atyeo, from Oxfordshire, who is related to the Sweetman family of Ryde and Daphne Pattinson and Jennifer Stay, both of Ryde. We now have 61 full members – 37 from the Ryde area, 12 from around the island, and 12 from the mainland. Kate was able to tell us that 34 are female and 27, male.

David Earle, who is the Mapping Group, told us of the problems he is now experiencing with the New Cemetery, the mapping of the Old Parish and the Old Cemetery having been completed, on 30 maps, for some time. There have been many over-burials in the New Cemetery and the maps given to David by Bereavement Services, although extremely helpful, do not always correspond with what is on the ground. Much clearing has also been done by various groups over the last few months, which means a great deal of new information is coming to light, as graves which have been overgrown for many years, are cleared. The Transcribing Team and David are working together to record this information as soon as possible, and before nature reclaims the information.

Janette reported the Transcribing Group has met intermittently over the last few weeks, but has nonetheless almost completed the Old and Parish Cemeteries, and is now transcribing the stones from the areas which have recently been cleared of overgrowth.

There are now 5824 individual records on the website.

Janette said that the Transcribing Group is recording about half of the burials in the cemetery – there are many unmarked graves and many are too eroded to record, however the Alpha Indexes on the Mapping Page of the website do include all the names from the maps supplied from Bereavement Services, whether we have been able to read the inscription or not. She estimated that we are now about half way through transcribing the inscriptions from the readable memorials in the cemetery, a task that has taken seven years to complete so far, so there is still much work to be done to complete the job of recording all the memorials in the cemetery.

Ann reported that from January to March, the research team added detail to 136 people on the website, with, so far, another 34 during April. Forty-six amendments and additions have been made. Ann emphasised the popularity of the Looking Back feature on the website and encouraged people to come forward with old photographs and memories of Ryde in the past. She’s also always looking for members who have even one hour a month to spare to visit the local Record Office to do a bit of research, as the work is so time-consuming, but extremely rewarding.

Carol reported the Publications team has completed the April newsletter, which will be sent out to members immediately after today’s meeting. The theme this month is Ryde Borough Police. If anyone is interested in learning more after reading the newsletter, please come along to the History Week in May, which has been our main focus recently. As there was more information about the police than could be included in the Newsletter we have created a ‘Law and Order Folder’ which will be available (along with many other folders with other themes) for people to read at Ryde History Week.

Kate reported that in January, we took part in the RSPB National Birdwatch, when we recorded 11 species of birds in the cemetery, 6 of the top ten birds identified nationally.

In February, we completed a full year of the Nature Diary for the cemetery. Both the Nature Diary and the results of the RSPB Birdwatch are available to view on the website.

Several members of the group are also taking advantage of the Conservation Training, provided as part of the Cemetery Restoration Project, brilliantly run by Richard Grogan of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The next course will be on Saturday, May 16th, concentrating on Flora and Fauna, starting at 1030 in the George Street Centre. There are places available, and anyone interested is advised to contact Janis Mundell, Restoration Project Co-ordinator: tel 01983 885172: [email protected] .


The clearing work recently undertaken in Ryde Cemetery was part of the Ryde Cemetery Restoration Project and has been carried out by Community Service Volunteers, the Green Gym and the Friends of Ryde Cemetery. The work has now stopped to allow nesting birds to raise their broods and it is hoped it will restart in due course. Anyone interested in helping with the clearing work is encouraged to contact Janis Mundell (details above) or Friends of Ryde Cemetery www.friendsofrydecemetery.co.uk.

Tenders received for the building work for the Restoration Project were unfortunately well above the estimated costs and work now going on behind the scenes to see how the costs can be brought within budget and how much of the project can be delivered. Janette emphasised the fantastic work being done by Janis Mundell to keep the project on track and to move it forward to a positive conclusion. Work on the Cemetery Heritage Trail has been put on hold while the finer details of the Restoration Project are finalised.

Carol then gave the details of Ryde History Week and all the groups and events taking place during the week.


The second part of the meeting was taken up with a fascinating and entertaining talk by Derek Sprake on IW Carriers.

The meeting closed at 12:30