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 Architecture

Garfield House

On the corner of Garfield Road and Victoria Street

Garfield House was built about 1830 and is a listed building.

The Ryde Young Women’s Christian Association was first commenced on November 1878 by Mrs Riddett, Mrs Thos Dashwood, Mrs Jones and Mrs Johnstone (Dr Johnstone’s wife). They invited 50 young women to a free tea, 40 of which subsequently gave in their names to become association members.  2 empty rooms in Cross Street were taken.  The members increased so fast that the accommodation in the 2 rooms soon became inadequate, and Garfield House was then engaged.

Rear Garden View

During 1883 the committee of the Young Women’s Christian Association had decided to open a seaside home for young women on the lines of Hazelwood (for young men).  A suitable premises, Garfield House near the Wesleyan chapel, had been taken by December that year.  The house was a large one, and they hoped to open with 13 beds on the second week in January 1884.

They wished, if possible, to open free of dept and assistance was appealed for.  They had received letters offering help from the Countess of Aberdeen, Lord Shaftesbury,  the Hon E, Kinnard, Lady Oglander, Gen Carr Tate, Mrs Carr Tate, and many others.  During the latter part of that year and ongoing on a regular basis, people began to organise a fete or bazaar and other functions in aid of funds for the home.  Although the home was regularly  helped by this means, the use had increased but the funds hadn’t.

In August 1884 James W. Watts, M.A. late vicar of Bicester, living at Summerville, Ryde, made an appeal and drew attention to the little known and feebly supported, the Home of Rest at Garfield House in connection with the Young Women’s Christian Association.  Garfield House offered a quiet and Christian home to those who, amid the toil and labour of constant employment in London and other large towns, desire for a season to revive their health.  The house was then full and every day brought new applications.  Mr. Watts appealed that people might subscribe to its funds and supply a great need.

The Dining Room

In May 1887 a new area called the Iron Room measuring 50ft by 22ft, nicely furnished and seating for 200 persons, had been added to Garfield House, to accommodate the ever increasing number as a seaside home, and which was also used by the local Y.W.C.A.  A glass corridor communicated with the main building and the entrance from the street was through a neatly designed arch.  In seven weeks £100 was given to Mrs Johnstone and with a little more help the hall was erected and opened that day.  All the money had been subscribed by women, so it was a gift by women to women.  Mr Josiah Cutler had acted as honorary architect.

By 1919 Garfield House was also being used by the Girl Guides, and at the association’s annual meeting the Superintendent reported that the past year had been most successful and had many lectures and excursions, and the girls had met to do work for the Ragged Schools.  The Guides had also worked in the garden and had been selling their vegetables and giving them to the hospitals. During the summer months 325 visitors had boarded there.  A party of L.C.C. school children came with their teachers for a change and nature study.  In August and September they were accommodating 68 at table daily.

On Tuesday 19th May 1923, the  Christian Alliance of Women and Girls held their annual meeting at Garfield-hall.  The secretary’s report showed that the membership was 80, two more than last year, although they had lost members by death or removal from the town.  During the last 15 months the number of visitors to Garfield House was 429, that was 99 less than in the previous 15 months.

1926 was the 47th anniversary of the Institution and many people had supported it throughout those years to maintain its continuance.  During the past two years over a 1000 women and girls had been lovingly cared for and encouraged by their superintendent. Many letters of appreciation had been received from all over the country.

In February 1942 Ryde’s 2nd British Restaurant was opened at Garfield House.  The new restaurant had been established in the large dining hall of the Y.W.C.A. premises, part of an up-to-date extension of the premises opened by Lord Radnor in 1934. It was a light airy room on the ground floor with modern cooking arrangements.  They had arranged through the W.V.S. to provide 60 to 80 meals a day for schoolchildren at Nettlestone, St. Helens, and Havenstreet.  It was established by order of the Government who were responsible for the expenses and would receive the profits.

Opening of Old Folks Flats September 1975
An £111.000 enterprise begun by the old Town Council, and developed by Medina Borough Council came to a successful completion when the Mayor Mr A T Drudge officially opened Garfield House in the centre of Ryde.  The property with its grounds were acquired in March 1973, part of the garden was taken for parking.  The original dining room was fashioned as a day centre for chair bound people and the remainder of Garfield House had been converted to 14 units of accommodation.

Sources: IW Observer, IW County Press
Photo postcards: RSHG Archive
Article: Ann Barrett