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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Talk by Lin Watterson
Talk by Lin Watterson

Our January Meeting held on Saturday 11 January at the George Street Centre was attended by 32 members with apologies received from 13 members.

Janette Gregson, Chairman, welcomed everyone and gave the Chairman’s report for the quarter from October to January.

Chairman’s Report The first item was to report the sad loss of our member Ralph Jenvey who passed away on 11 November. Several members of the Committee attended Ralph’s funeral which was a loving and touching tribute to a popular man of Ryde. Janette said that Ralph had been a great supporter of the group and would be sadly missed by all of us.

Moving on to happier items we launched our Changing Face of Ryde project with an event at Ryde Library on 16 November. It was a fantastic day and we had on display some of the Story Boxes and Family History Shrines we had made as well as photo albums and scrapbooks. We had a display with the Changing Face of Ryde showing some of the research already carried out into some of the streets of Ryde. Richard Smout the Island Heritage Manager joined us and he explained to people how they can start their research and the sorts of things they need to be looking at.

It was a very successful day and lots of people came to talk to us about research and our project.

For the Changing Face of Ryde Project we are aiming, with the help of the community to look at how Ryde changed as a result of the First World War which started on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. 100 years ago life in Ryde was carrying on as normal, but the next 4-5 years were going to change everything. It’s those changes that we want to document and share.

Also in November Dover Park (class 5C) visited the cemetery for a WW2 session. They had previously visited the War Memorial at the town hall and collected names of some of the fallen. Back at school they had used the RSHG website for research & for planning their trip to the cemetery. They came with print outs of names of people they wanted to find. There were 28 children with their teacher & 2 teaching assistants. Carol, David & Kate led walks & helped locate war graves and we had an exhibition about the war for them to view. The children had a great time and produced some lovely work. which can be seen here!

Janette reported that thanks to a painstaking and fantastic amount of work by our very own David Earle and his friend David Marshall of St John’s Church, Oakfield we have recently added information about the burials at St John’s Cemetery to the RSHG website. Unfortunately you cannot use the search function to find these burials at the moment but if you go to the map page there is a link to the St John’s Cemetery page and you can search through the indexes and find maps showing the location of the graves.

When the surveying work was being carried out the cemetery was very overgrown and difficult to move about in, although that didn’t stop David and David who were determined to be as accurate as they possibly could be. However we were told last week that the church has managed to find some money to pay for some clearance work to be carried out in the cemetery.

To finish off her report Janette was pleased to tell those present that Ryde Cemetery now has a Sexton and she introduced John Martin. John is going to be based in the Cemetery 4 days a week; Monday to Thursday and he will be looking after the general maintenance of the buildings and grounds. The gates at the Pellhurst Road end will be open from 10:30-2:30 Monday to Thursday from now. Janette said we were all looking forward to working with John.
John said a few words about how he is looking forward to looking after the cemetery and welcoming people to the Learning and Heritage Centre.

Finance Report Arthur Williams, Treasurer gave the financial report showing that the group is in a healthy financial state.

Membership Update Kate MacDonell, Membership Secretary reported that we have 74 fully paid up members.


Research Ann Barrett, leader of the Research Team reported that Research had slowed down for a couple of weeks in December, due to the holidays, and the record office being closed until the 2nd of January. However, quite a lot had still been going on helping with the magazine and the start of the WW1 project.

Publications Carol Strong, leader of the Publications Team reported that following the fantastic Archive Day in Ryde library when we were told stories of the men who fought in the war and how the families left behind coped without them; the tales of the survivors and how life continued at home no matter what awful things were happening in the trenches abroad we now have a vast archive of information.

Through the winter we have been collecting more. We are holding another Archives and Records day in Ryde Library on Saturday 22 February between 10am and 4pm and we will have our research folders available for visitors to browse. We will be joined in the morning by Richard Smout, who will be bringing a selection of material from the IW Record Office to help with research and can tell you what records about the First World War are available at the Records Office. Tea and coffee will be available all day for a small charge, thanks to the Friends of Ryde Library.

On Tuesday 4 March the Records Office is opening especially for a visit by RSHG and people wanting to become involved in the Changing Face of Ryde Project. Richard will have material available for you to browse. Anyone wishing to join this visit please contact Carol.

For our January magazine ‘History is all Around us” the team looked street furniture, boundary stones, post boxes, street lighting, sign posts and unusual features still present on some of the town’s houses.

We are building up an archive of photographs and descriptions of all these things, an ongoing and never ending project.

That concluded the business of the meeting and refreshments were served and a raffle held.

The meeting ended with a wonderful presentation by Lin Watterson of the Friends of Carisbrooke Castle Museum on The Diary of Edward Falkingham Clayton of Ryde 1863
Copes of the transcription of this wonderful diary are available from Carisbrooke Castle Museum and also from Ryde Library.

The next members meeting will be held at 10:30 on Saturday 12 April at the George Street Centre.