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 Castle after the fire
Ryde Castle after the fire

On the evening of Saturday 17 March 2012 Ryde Castle Hotel suffered extensive damage as the result of a fire.

The History

Ryde Castle Hotel is a featured stop on the Ryde Heritage Audio Trail produced by Ryde Social Heritage Group in 2010. The Castle was built in 1833-34 by Thomas Dashwood, master builder of Ryde. In mock Tudor/Gothic style, with battlemented parapets and the fantastic seafront location it must have been any Englishman’s dream home: to live like a monarch.

In the 1860s the railway was extended to link Ryde Pier with St John’s Station. This was via a tunnel actually running underneath The Castle. The tunnel is still there today.

In 1862 there was a proposal in the local newspaper to turn The Castle into a hotel, however it did not actually become a hotel until 1930.

During WW1 The Castle was adapted as a fully equipped Red Cross Hospital where wounded young men were nursed back to health and, in many cases, sent back to the front.

During WW2 Ryde Castle Hotel was again used for the war effort as Army Headquarters.

Then in the early 1960s heyday of beat bands, Ryde Castle Hotel was a popular music venue. Admission, 2/6 midweek, 3/- weekends.

You can find out more about the history of the hotel by going to the Ryde Heritage Audio Trail page on this website. You can listen to the audio files, download them to phones, tablets and other devices or view and print the text relating to each stop on the trail. The Ryde Heritage Audio Trail is free to access.

The Fire

The fire on Saturday 17 March started after a firework display set off by staff from the roof of the hotel as part of the celebrations for the wedding reception of Robert and Alex Ballard from Gosport. Everyone was evacuated from the building at about 10pm and fire fighters attended all through the night to control and put out the fire. Thankfully no-one was injured.

The next day viewing the hotel from the front it appeared that much of the fire had been contained, however an aerial view of the damage which could be seen on the Isle of Wight County Press website showed that the central part of the building has completely collapsed.

Greene King, the owners of Ryde Castle Hotel, have said they are still waiting for confirmation of the full extent of the damage and it will be closed for the foreseeable future, however at the moment they have every intention of restoring the historic building.

Photographs taken by Carol Strong on Sunday 18 March 2012 after the fire had been extinguished.