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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Canoe Lake Cafe

Canoe Lake Cafe

The photograph (right) taken in the 1950’s, is of the Ryde Canoe Lake Café which was a pleasing structure surrounded by beautiful flower beds. It certainly seemed to be well patronised during the summer months.

There was originally a small refreshment hut on the site.  In October 1928 the Parks and Entertainments Committee considered that a more suitable building should be erected and the borough surveyor was instructed to prepare plans and an estimate.  Upon the expiration of the present tenancy the hut would be removed to the Recreation ground for use as dressing-rooms.

In January 1938 the borough was advertising for manageresses for the four Ryde cafés for the forthcoming Summer season, commencing at Whitsuntide.  Wages of the manageress at the Canoe Lake Café would be £3 per week, with a commission of 2½% on net profits, payable at the end of the season, provided satisfactory service was given.

Just a couple of years later in June 1940, because of the restrictions imposed on the country by War, and the urge for economy in the management of cafés, the Ryde Canoe Lake Café was closed on June 23rd.

In August 1952 the re-opened café, owned by Ryde Corporation, was under the tenancy of Mr Leonard Steele of Shanklin.  The premises was brought to public attention by an attempted break-in at 11.45 pm on August 7th, by a young man, who was very drunk.  The incident was alerted by a passing taxi-driver who heard the breaking glass.  The ensuing court case was dismissed owing to not enough evidence.

18-19 March 1967 was to see the end of the café in the photograph, when it was maliciously set on fire.  The alarm was raised at 7 am. when a passer-by saw smoke curling from the timber and brick building.  Two machines directed by Station Officer Leonard Williams were on the spot within 7 minutes.  Only a week previously the café in Puckpool park suffered the same fate.

The Parks and Entertainments Committee reported in May 1967 that both the Puckpool Dell and Canoe Lake cafés, which were being rebuilt after destruction by fire, had been let at increased rents.  The tenants of the Canoe Lake Café being B.M.S. Caterers Ltd., London, for a period of 7 years from the date of completion of the building and with an option for a further 3 years, subject to a rent review.

sources: Isle of Wight County Press & RSHG Archive Roy Brinton Collection photo