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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Tony Gale
Tony Gale

At our Members meeting on 14 January we had 39 members and 4 visitors and apologies from 7 members.

Janette welcomed all to the meeting and delivered the Chairman’s Report.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Ryde Social Heritage Group which was first set up in 2002 by Janette, Sally-Ann Garrett and Matthew Bell. The idea behind the group was to record the inscriptions from the memorials in Ryde Cemetery and establish a local history group to research the history of Ryde. Ten years later the initial project of recording the inscriptions is still a work in progress, but in those 10 years the group has achieved a fantastic amount – a 2 year Heritage Lottery Funded project about Ryde Cemetery and the history of Ryde; launched and maintained a very successful website; published a book about Ryde called ‘Ryde’s Heritage, Our Town, Your Histories’; organised and hosted a Ryde History Week involving many other local groups; surveyed and produced excellent plot maps for Ryde Cemetery (and now other cemeteries); researched, wrote and published a Heritage Audio Trail for Ryde; hosted Open Days and events in Ryde Cemetery and St Thomas Church and recently published Tony Gale’s book on Ryde Pubs. As well as all that we continue to research into the history of Ryde and have put on many exhibitions, given presentations and guided walks to other groups, and our Research and Publications Teams produce 4 good quality magazines a year.

Since the AGM in October the group has been busy: Our online shop is now up and running on the website and people can purchase our book ‘Ryde’s Heritage, Our Town Your Histories’ and the new book ‘Ryde Pubs’ by Tony Gale, direct from our online shop. In due course we will be adding other merchandise.

At the end of November we had a group outing to visit Osborne House which was decorated for Christmas. It was a very interesting visit with a knowledgable guide and the house looked lovely with all the Christmas decorations. Afterwards we all went back to Shelagh’s house for lunch and an afternoon of socialising. It was a fantastic day.

At the beginning of December we supported Ryde Arts Festival in the green wreath making event at St Thomas Church. That was a very popular day and as always it was lovely to see the church being used and full of people.

During December we had an exhibition in Ryde Library. Our displays in the library are very popular with visitors and it is an excellent place for us to showcase our work and research as so many people use the library every day.

Since the AGM we have added more records from Ashey Cemetery, Binstead Cemetery and St Thomas church graveyard to the website. All the records for St Thomas are now complete and the maps and indexes are available on the website. The whole of Binstead Cemetery has been transcribed, adding the records for Binstead and Ashey cemeteries to the website is a work in progress. We hope to have maps and indexes for Ashey and Binstead Cemeteries added to the website soon.

The Committee will soon be formulating our plans for events in the coming year and these will be announced as soon as we have definite news. Watch this space as they say, as this group continues to move onwards and upwards!

Arthur Williams, Treasurer, gave the financial report which showed the group to be in a healthy financial state.

Kate MacDonell, Membership Secretary, gave an update on membership which showed that at the October AGM we had 75 members, the highest number achieved so far.

Reports from the Work Groups

Ann Barrett, Research Group Leader reported that despite the Records Office being closed for an extended period over the Christmas holidays the group had still been busy dealing with the many enquiries we receive from all over the world, uploading Probates to the website and checking existing records. We have continued to build on our relationship with the Isle of Wight Family History Society for sharing information. Ann thanked her dedicated team for all their hard work in the last quarter.

Carol Strong, Publications Group Leader reported that the group has been busy since the AGM and only took a short break over the Christmas holidays.

We supported Ryde Arts Festival Christmas wreath making event by organising the children’s activities, many of the children made ‘stained glass windows’ from black card and cellophane, whidh were displayed in the church windows. RSHG had a display about Christmas in Ryde and beyond which was popular with many of the visitors. This display, together with photos of wintertime in Ryde and Binstead cemeteries was then moved to Ryde Library where it featured in their first Christmas evening event that saw us singing carols unaccompanied and enjoying mulled wine and mince pies. The display stayed in the library until Friday 23 December and was very popular.

The January magazine called ‘Beyond Ryde Cemetery’ has been inspired by the number of enquiries we have received about people buried in the other Ryde cemeteries. David Earle has produced detailed maps for each cemetery and indexes which will all be shortly available on the website and at the Heritage & Learning Centre in Ryde Cemetery. We will be adding photographs to these records when we get time to take them!

Carol requested any information or family stories about people from Binstead and Ashey to add to our records. The first burial in Binstead was in 1857 and in Ashey 1910; both cemeteries still have some spaces while St Thomas’ Churchyard closed many years ago. If you have any photos, documents, maps or other information these areas or the people please contribute to our growing collection. We are happy to take copies and add them to the website record or use in our future exhibitions, and to return the originals to their owners. Our research team needs extra help too, the more records we enter the more work they have to do at the record office, please consider sparing Ann a couple of hours a week to help.

Janette Gregson, Transcribing Group leader reported the transcribing group stopped it’s activities early in December due to the weather and lead up to Christmas, the work will resume again in spring. However we now have records for over 10,000 individuals from Ryde on the website and many of these records have additional biographical information.

David Earle, Ryde Cemetery Consultant reported that, as there has been no Sexton looking after the Heritage Centre in Ryde Cemetery since June last year, he has been helping out with manning the centre on a regular basis. He is in close contact with Bereavement Services and keeps them informed of any developments or problems.

The Police involved with the Safer Neighbourhoods Scheme visit the Cemetery on a regular basis. David is now ‘known to the Police’ as “Dave the Grave”.

David’s activities fall into six categories:

1. Making amendments and corrections to the RSHG website.
2. Checking that all records have the correct map reference, e.g. early on in the group’s activities some memorials were transcribed before a map had been produced and were entered without a map reference.
3. Adding photographs of graves where they have been omitted and when new records are added to the website.
4. Helping out with school visits by conducting short guided walks and answering the questions the children have.
5. Helping visitors to the cemetery locate graves of deceased relatives.
6. Helping to answer queries received through the RSHG website about graves in Ryde Cemetery.

Immediately after David’s update we held the raffle.

With the ‘official business’ of the group concluded Tony Gale entertained us with an illustrated presentation on The Ashey Races. Everyone agreed it was a fascinating and informative talk with some wonderful images.