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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Beneath our Feet

Five Ways Junction and Shelter 1975

Many times we walk the pavements and streets, but don’t usually think about what is below the ground that we walk upon.

A Well in West Street (April 1907)
It had been decided to place beneath the pavement in West Street a 2 hp motor which it was hoped would serve to utilise the well which was rarely at that time in use.  It was unlikely that the water issued directly from the spring which undoubtedly existed in the neighbourhood, but the water probably accumulated there and found a convenient opening.  For years past it had been marked by a hand pump, which was sometimes used for filling the borough water carts, but its efficiency was extremely limited owing to the fact that it required nearly two hours pumping before enough water was obtained to fill the cart.  Tests had recently been carried out to ascertain the output of the spring, and the results were considered satisfactory.  With the apparatus which was expected to be in full working order in about a month’s time, a water cart may be filled to overflowing in about seven minutes.

Five Ways Junction (Summer 1975)
The photograph right shows the shelter and seating where West Street crosses Queen’s Road, Newport Street and John Street.  Many people have used this facility in their time. Old folks would sit and rest a while on their way home from Ryde town, and watch the world go by,  a relief from carrying heavy bags of shopping.   Young courting couples could sit and chat without being overheard.  Little rascals would sit and discuss their next adventure or plot some sort of  mischief.  There was probably even the odd vagrant from time to time.

At a later date in the shelter’s existence, the vast increase of vehicular traffic and greater air pollution, with so much travelling in all directions, it was reduced to being a more uncomfortable place to be.

However, this place had another essential purpose (beneath the ground). It was over a reservoir of water measuring 21ft in diameter and 16ft in depth.  The amount it held when full being 26,000 gallons.

Sources: IW Observer, RSHG Archive
Image: Roy Brinton Collection
Article: Ann Barrett