Ryde’s Heritage & History
“I love and believe in Ryde – it’s such a lovely place.
“I’ve been in business here for the past 25 years and I got involved in local politics when I joined the Ryde Forum as a representative for Ryde seafront businesses.
“I served as chairman for five years and was tasked by the leader of the Isle of Wight council to go out to the community and get the thousands of signatures needed to emparish Ryde – and when that finally happened I was very proud to be elected as a councillor and then voted by my fellow Cllrs to be the first Mayor of Ryde since 1973. I am now cabinet member for Regeneration, Business Development, Tourism and Events on Isle of Wight Council.
“Ryde’s heritage and history are so important and I’m known on my Twitter and Facebook accounts for posting wonderful old photos of the place. I think our unique history is something we can really harness and use to attract visitors. We are the original ‘town on the beach’ and we have some of the first recorded holiday villas in the world.
“If I could make it happen, I would love to see an old helter-skelter standing on Western Gardens to mirror Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower and a working bathing machine on the beach. I’m sure people would love to have their photos taken standing next to it and enjoying reading about the history – and it would help to make the place even more memorable. (I think it’s my family’s roots as showmen that makes me so keen on this sort of thing).
“Queen Victoria really put the Isle of Wight on a global map and we are lucky that the High Street and Union Street didn’t get bombed during the second World War.
“And, of course, Ryde annually hosts the UK’s oldest carnival.
“The King of Spain came here when Ryde was known as one of the main places to be at the time. The town was once a jewel – mentioned in the same breath as London and Paris. We need to build back that excitement about the place again – lots of people who live here really love the place and we want to share our enthusiasm.
“We are also known as the gateway to the island and our strategy has always been to encourage visitors to spend more time in Ryde, enjoying the independent shops and the café culture we are looking to encourage.
“The town is reminiscent of the Brighton Lanes and the pedestrianisation of parts of the High Street can only help to encourage people to spend more time there.
“In my dreams I would like to see an ornate Victorian self-supporting glass roof covering the pedestrianised part of the High Street so we can provide shelter and encourage people to linger in all weathers.
“Over the years Ryde has attracted all sorts of creative and artistic people to come visit and live here.
“It is famous for many things, for instance in 1953, Ryde witnessed police raids on 5 shops in the town and seizure of over 5,000 saucy postcards – the majority published by Donald McGill.
“Ryde has many artistic links and I would like to see more artists and creative people putting down roots in the town so it can become known once again as a place that is full of vitality.
“I’m completely supportive of the aims of the HAZ project and I look forward to seeing the transformation take place over the coming years. Regenerating the High Street area will make such a difference to Ryde and ensure the town’s future prosperity.”