Newport Street, Ryde – The photograph (right) was taken in 1971
Mrs. Augusta Wilder of West Street, Ryde, among her many amiable and charitable works, stood conspicuous the erection of alms houses in Newport Street. Built in 1855 for the poor, as a monument to the memory of her deceased husband, Francis Boyle Shannon Wilder. One of them bears a plaque with his name and the date A.D. 1854. In other ways her good deeds were long to be cherished by the poor, who had lost in her a true friend when she died in 1858, and whose place it was to be feared would not soon be supplied. More about Mrs Wilder here
During Mrs. Wilder’s lifetime the almshouses were managed by herself, she admitted whom she pleased, making her selection entirely from persons who were resident in Ryde, and were natives of the Isle of Wight. She provided that at her decease the Vicar and Churchwardens of the parish should nominate persons to fill vacancies, “be a widow or spinster of good character and repute, and of not less than 60 years of age, a native of the Isle of Wight, and either a member of the Church of England, or a Protestant Dissenter, acknowledging the Eternal Godhead of our Blessed Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ.”
The management of the Trust carried on this way for thirty-seven years, but in 1902 the charity was transferred to the Commissioners as trustees, which set forward that the body of trustees should consist of at least five competent persons.
In October 1970 the Housing Committee reported to the Ryde Town Council that they were negotiating with the Wilder’s Trustees for the acquisition by the council of some two-thirds of the land occupied by the existing almshouses in Newport Street, all of which were to be demolished in order that further accommodation could be provided for housing elderly persons. The development of the site would be a joint arrangement between the Council and the Trustees, whereby the Trustees will retain four permanent dwellings as almshouses, and the council will secure some eight units of accommodation. The County Welfare Authority would re-house the other almspeople.
In March 1972 the council adopted a recommendation from the Housing Committee that subject to acceptance by the Wilder’s Charity Trustees of the revised tender of C. F. Wade and Company (I.W.) Limited, amounting to £13, 575 for the erection of four almshouses at Newport Street and the revised tender of the same company be accepted in the sum of £33,054.72 for the construction of eight flats for the Town Council, at Newport Street.
In May 1972 the elderly ladies moved from the almshouses to the Elephant and Castle, and Mr. N. C. Cooper, housing officer and his staff were thanked by the Housing Committee for assisting them to move and giving them a helping hand with fitting curtains, etc.
Twelve flats for old people (Photo left) were officially opened in April 1973 on the site of the former Augusta Wilder Charity Trust Almshouses. Eight were Town Council one-bedroom flats, and four were bed-sitting room flats for the Wilder Trust. Mrs. G. Burridge, B.E.M., chairman of the Town Council Housing Committee welcomed the guests at the opening ceremony. No. 44, consisting of 4 council flats, was named Burridge Court by Mrs. Burridge. It was the first time any development in the borough had been named after a living person. The four bed-sitting rooms almshouses at No. 46 were named Augusta Wilder by Rev. Turner, vicar of Ryde and chairman of the trustees of the Augusta Wilder Charity. Afterwards, those present were guests of Mrs. Burridge at the Newport Street W.V.S. headquarters for refreshments.
Sources: IW Observer & IW County Press
Photos: RSHG Archive & Roy Brinton Collection