Royal seal of approval for Ryde District Heritage Centre

Congratulations to all those involved with Historic Ryde Society (HRS) which has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2015 for its work on the Ryde District Heritage Centre.

Ryde Heritage Centre

This in from Brian on behalf of the Historic Ryde Society. Ed

Historic Ryde Society (HRS) has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2015.

MBE for voluntary groups
The award is the MBE for voluntary groups, created in 2002 to celebrate the golden anniversary of the Queen’s coronation (June 2nd 1953). It has been given in recognition of the work the Society has done in creating Ryde District Heritage Centre, situated in the basement of the Royal Victoria Arcade, Union Street, Ryde.

There will be an official presentation of a certificate and commemorative crystal by the Lord Lieutenant in a few weeks.

A tribute to all who’ve worked hard
Chairman of HRS, Brian Harris, said,

“We’re all chuffed to bits. The award’s a tribute to all the people who’ve worked hard over the last four years to create a magnificent museum about, and for, the people of Ryde. The Society has grown rapidly into something we can be really proud of, and it’s all down to our volunteers.”

Founder’s research snowballed
Diana Wood, one of the founder members of the Society, and a leading figure in pushing the vision of a museum forward, became involved almost by accident.

Doing homework for a history evening class, she was asked to research something of local interest, and decided to look into the history of the Royal Victoria Arcade.

“I only meant to write a couple of pages, but became so engrossed with the Arcade, and its forthcoming 175th anniversary, that things snowballed”, said Diana. From that project, she got together with fellow enthusiasts, and Historic Ryde Society was born.

Demand for a museum
During the planning of the arcade’s anniversary event in 2011, it became obvious from public feedback that a museum was needed. The committee decided to raise funds for a Heritage Centre to display photographic and film archive, as well as artefacts pertaining to Ryde’s history.

Several venues were considered, and then the basement of the Arcade was offered. This area, fondly remembered as a nightclub in the 1970s, then latterly as a “flea market”, was in a very sorry condition.

Through the Ryde Townscape Heritage Initiative and the Heritage Lottery Fund, grants were awarded which enabled the structure to be secured, along with the Heritage Centre’s creation.

There was also generous sponsorship from Hovertravel, and grants from Ryde Town Council, to help with start-up costs. The Heritage Centre opened for business in August 2011, a month after the Arcade’s traffic-stopping anniversary celebrations.

A large quantity of bottles, flagons and commercial memorabilia from Ryde’s long-gone breweries and businesses formed a substantial part of the original displays.

Donor: “Couldn’t have dreamed of it”
The donor, museum co-founder and Society treasurer Tony Packer, commented,

“This award is something we couldn’t have dreamed of five years ago. We weren’t sure whether there would be sufficient interest to sustain a museum in Ryde.”

There was indeed such interest that HRS was able to invite the Duke of Gloucester to open an extension only 11 months later, in July 2012.

Work carried out by members
Virtually all the work was done by members, saving £19,000 off the builder’s £24,000 estimate. Since then, two more rooms have been opened for WWI and militaria displays, and the final expansion is under way with the renovation of five more rooms; again, volunteers are doing the majority of the work.

In addition to the collection of local historic and military artefacts, the Heritage Centre now houses the Donald McGill ‘Saucy Seaside’ Postcard Museum, moved from its former home in The Orrery.

Award information

  • The nomination form is considered by the Lord Lieutenant for the County in which the group is based.
  • The Lord Lieutenant, or their representative, will normally visit the nominated group and based on this will write a recommendation.
  • Specialist Assessment Panels, of independent volunteering experts from across the UK, judge the nominated groups against the Award criteria.
  • Recommendations are passed to the Main Award Committee which advises the Minister.
  • HM the Queen approves the Awards on the advice of the Minister.
  • Award recipients are informed and public announcements made on 2 June.
  • The Lord Lieutenant of the County will present each group with a certificate signed by the Queen and a commemorative crystal at a local ceremony.

Ryde District Heritage Centre information

  • Open from 11am to 4pm Monday to Saturday
  • £3 for adults, Accompanied Under 16s free
  • Hundreds of items, Thousands of pictures

Tuesday, 2nd June, 2015 8:21am



Filed under: Community, Isle of Wight News, Ryde, Isle of Wight, Top story, Volunteering

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2 Comments on "Royal seal of approval for Ryde District Heritage Centre"

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Richard Downing

Well done and well deserved.


Well done and well deserved!