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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Ryde History Week

Ryde History Week

Carol Strong, our Publications Group Leader, was the driving force behind Ryde History Week. She galvanised us into action to produce a display of Ryde History the town could be proud of. She also made contact with many other local history groups to invite them to participate in the week and in total 16 groups contributed to the event.

Ryde History Week opened to the general public on Sunday, May 3rd, and closed on Saturday May 9th, to great applause.

During the course of the week, we welcomed nearly 1000 visitors into St Thomas’ Heritage Centre, all of whom, without exception, were amazed at how much work we had produced.

Monday was Victorian Day, and most of our volunteers dressed accordingly. Children were encouraged to do the same, from a box of ‘dressing up’ clothes and many did during the course of the day. There were also genuine Victorian toys, on loan from Carisbrooke Castle Museum, for the children to play with.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sarah Speller of the Hampshire Archive Trust and Richard Smout of the Isle of Wight Record Office came for the ‘Ask the Archivist’ session. One lady brought in an old family scrapbook, for Sarah to see, and she and Richard were kept busy all afternoon.

On Tuesday evening, Peter Clarke of the Isle of Wight Catholic History Society, gave a fascinating talk on Catholicism in Victorian Ryde, which was well received.

“Ask the Archivist”

Wednesday heralded the arrival of two poetry groups: The Loft Poets in the morning, and the Shore Women’s Writing Group in the evening. The Loft Poets read relevant examples of their work and the Shore Women gave a moving account of the wreck of the Irex, near the Needles in 1890.

Life in Roman Britain
On Thursday evening, Ann Evans of the Friends of Brading Roman Villa gave a fascinating talk on life in Roman Britain, and, assisted by Diana, showed wonderful artefacts of the period.

Friday heralded Richard Smout’s afternoon talk entitled ‘Ryde in Times of Conflict’ and included the importance of the Red Cross hospitals in Ryde, which were Ryde Castle and Hazelwood.

During the course of the week people were encouraged to write memories of Ryde in the past. Many did, and these memories make interesting reading. It was amazing to discover through the week how many people recognised themselves or family members in the photographs on display around the exhibition. Both the Isle of Wight Catholic History Society, and St Helen’s Historical Association had people peering over the photographs and one lady was squealing with delight when looking at a display about Suffolk Towers in George Street. She realised the couple in the photograph were her aunt and uncle, photographs of whom she had never seen before.
David gave demonstrations of the RSHG website to visitors and sent many people happily on their way after finding information on family members on the website, and telling them the location of the grave in the cemetery.

Fred & Cecil Reminisce

One of the most emotional moments of the week was the arrival of the great grand-daughter of coastguard Harry Mayo. Margaret and her husband had come down to the island from Birmingham to visit friends in Shanklin. Realising there was to be a ropemaking demonstration, after locating Harry’s grave in the cemetery, they came down to St Thomas’ Heritage Centre. Margaret was moved to tears on realising Harry was mentioned on the display about the Irex shipwreck, and again when Kate was able to tell her of his bravery during the rescue. Having bought a copy of the DVD, Margaret and her husband went off to visit Number 10 Nelson Place, coincidentally originally called Rope Walk, which was once the Hand in Hand public house, run by Harry and his wife.

The maps we had conserved recently proved very popular, and there were many exclamations of delight when the site of a long since demolished house was discovered.
The Isle of Wight branch of the Historical Association were pleased to recruit thirty or so people over the course of the week and several people also joined Ryde Social Heritage Group.
The end of a wonderful week arrived all too quickly and even as the boards were being dismantled, people were still coming through the door.

Hopefully we have sent everyone on their way this week having learned something new about their town, and with an interest to learn more.