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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We had 27 members and 6 visitors at our meeting held at the George Street Centre, George Street, Ryde on Saturday 14 April 2012.

Janette Gregson gave the Chairman’s report which included an apology that the Murder Mystery and Curry evening planned for February at Shelagh’s house had been postponed owing to the fact that Shelagh was unwell at the time.

On 23 March Janette, Arthur, Ann and Shelagh had attended the Royal visit to Ryde Pier Head when Prince Edward unveiled a plaque commemorating the 200th anniversary of the passing of the Ryde Pier Act. We had our exhibition on the history of the pier on display and talked to executives of Wightlink and many of the invited guests before the Prince arrived. We were the first group he was introduced to and he spoke to us about the display, the history and importance of the pier to the development of Ryde and how people got to Ryde before the pier was built.

On 31 March we were back at the Pier Head for Wightlink’s Party on the Pier. Our exhibition attracted a lot of attention from the visitors and we collected memories of the pier from many of the people who came to talk to us.

Janette explained about some recent purchases of equipment the group had made.

There are two big events for Ryde Social Heritage Group this year.

The first is our Jubilee Celebrations in Ryde Cemetery Heritage Centre on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May.

Then on 6 to 9 September we will be hosting Heritage Open Days at St Thomas Heritage Centre, St Thomas Street, Ryde. On this occassion we will also be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the group and showcasing our achievements over the past decade of researching, documenting and sharing information about the history of our town.

Arthur Williams, Treasurer, gave the report on finances which show the group to be in a healthy financial position.

Kate MacDonell gave the membership update and welcomed the three new members who have joined since the January meeting: Ralph Jenvy from Ryde, Jen Riddle-Browne from Southampton and Lady Sara Grayson from Dorset.

Ann Barrett presented the report on the work of the Research Group and explained how busy they had been and the variety or work undertaken – from researching people buried in Ryde Cemetery, helping with the many enquiries we receive from all over the world and carrying out research for material for the quarterly magazine ‘Beyond the Graves’ and for exhibitions. Ann stressed that the group is busy all the time but the most important thing is that we all have such a lot of fun!

Ann thanked her team who regularly visit the Record Office to carry out the research and also the people who diligently type up the reports for the group.

Carol Strong gave the Publications team report and explained that the team had been busy in the first part of the year preparing new display sheets for the two events on Ryde Pier and preparing the magazine for this quarter which has the theme of Royals in Ryde.

Our next exhibitions will be in support of Ryde Arts Festival Week and the Olympics starting in Ryde Library on 25 June with the theme of ‘Friends across the World’ and in St Thomas Heritage Centre, Ryde on 29 June with ‘Music and Entertainment’. Ryde Arts Festival dates are 29 June to 8 July and our exhibition will remain in the library until 28 July.

When the business of the group was concluded we drew the raffle and distributed the prizes.

The next part of the meeting was taken up by a fascinating presention by our member Tony Gale who spoke about Smuggling. We learnt about the various ways of smuggling and the types of goods that were smuggled across the ages – wines, spirits and even tea!

At the end of the meeting we had a short time to chat to each other before it was time to pack up and leave.

The feedback we have received from members present is that it was an enjoyable meeting and an excellent presentation from Tony.

The next meeting will be on Saturday 14 July 10:30 am at the George Street Centre, George Street, Ryde. All are welcome. Admission is free to members and £2 for visitors. The guest speaker will be Mark Earp.