Peter shares this latest report from Ryde. Ed
Plans to revive Ryde’s “neglected” historic character were unveiled at a meeting of the town council this week.
A funding bid to improve the high street is being submitted to Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone scheme after a vote by councillors.
It comes at a time when new visitors to the Island declare that it’s not just fish n’ chips and seaside that they are seeking.
Important gateway to the Isle of Wight
TV programmes like ITV’s Victoria, and the film Victoria and Abdul, have created a new interest in the history of the Island. Queen Victoria, who lived at Osborne House, was a regular visitor to Ryde.
The town developed throughout the latter half of the 18th century, the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century as a popular seaside resort and important gateway to the Isle of Wight.
Visitors shocked at state of gateway
Today new visitors are often shocked to find its gateway, a railway station at the pier head, consisting of broken and dilapidated wood panels.
The town boasts many Regency and Victorian buildings and a townscape of considerable historic interest with fine buildings such as All Saints Church, designed by the eminent Gilbert Scott. Unfortunately many buildings including the Town Hall, built in 1829, are closed and in a state of decay.
National funding bid to enhance whole of High Street
Zoe Thompson, chair of Ryde Business Association and Chris Ashman, the Island’s Director of Regeneration, presented to Ryde Town Council at Monday’s meeting.
Thompson: Helping to thread together the various ‘zones’
Ms Thompson said that it’s hoped that a successful bid will enable enhancement of the whole of the High Street, in particular drawing on aspects of heritage to bring back a sense of history, consider the use of the squares and how those can be improved, as well as looking at connectivity between different areas.
“There will also be consideration as to how heritage for the whole town can be enhanced, helping to thread together the various ‘zones’ of Ryde, and really making Ryde a place where the history and heritage is celebrated.”
The Expression of Interest for the Historic England grant requires match funding and evidence of partnership working across a maximum of four years, Ryde Town Council voted in favour of supporting the bid, and being the lead organisation if successful to the next stage.
Against the motion
Not every councillor supported the decision, however. Cllr Julian Critchley abstained from the vote.
“All of us want to see more money invested in Ryde. That’s not in doubt.
“We were being asked to agree a notional £100,000 with almost no details of what we might be getting for the citizens of Ryde, and no clarity about how that sum was decided upon, or where the project would be focussed.”