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Ryde is an English seaside town and civil parish on the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight. It had a population of 32,072 at the time of the 2011 Census. Its growth as a seaside resort followed after the villages of Upper Ryde and Lower Ryde were merged in the 19th century. The influence of that period can be seen in the town's central and seafront architecture. As a resort, Ryde has expansive sands revealed at low tide. The wide beach necessitates the listed pier for a regular passenger ferry service to the mainland. It is the fourth longest in the United Kingdom and the oldest survivor.
In 1782 numerous bodies of men, women and children from HMS Royal George, which sank suddenly at Spithead, were washed ashore at Ryde. Many were buried on land that is now occupied by the Esplanade. A memorial to them was erected in June 2004.
The town boasts many Regency and Victorian buildings and the townscape is of considerable historic interest with fine buildings such as All Saints Church, designed by the eminent Gilbert Scott, and the Town Hall, which was built in 1829 and is considered to be one of the finest buildings of its type on the south coast. Up until the pier was opened in 1814, ferry passengers landing at low tide were brought almost half a mile into the shore by horse and cart. Today the fast catamaran service to Portsmouth takes around 20 minutes and can be reached by train along the pier. There is also a hovercraft service to Southsea, which takes 9 minutes.
The hovercraft to Southsea is operated by Hovertravel near the Esplanade close to Ryde Esplanade railway station and the bus station. A catamaran service run by Wightlink operates from Ryde Pier to Portsmouth Harbour which connects with both Island Line trains and mainland trains to London Waterloo.
The Island Line Trains service runs from Ryde Pier Head via Ryde Esplanade to Shanklin, a distance of 8 1⁄2 miles (14 km). Ryde St John's Road railway station lies further south in the town.
The bus interchange lies between Ryde Pier and the Hover Terminal on the Esplanade. Ryde is the second busiest stop in the Southern Vectis network after Newport. The busiest route is No. 9 to Newport, running every 10 minutes in the daytime. Others include Nos 2, 3, 4 and 8 and local route 37. An open-top bus service,The Downs Tour, runs in the summer.
The town's large and long esplanade area has always been an attraction for tourists, especially those day-tripping from the mainland, as the amenities are all available by walking from the pier. A swimming pool, bowls club, bowling alley, and boating lake are among the attractions, and there are various children's playgrounds, amusement arcades and cafés.
Ryde has few large public open spaces beyond the esplanade, but areas for public recreation include Appley Park, Puckpool Park, Vernon Square, Simeon Street Recreation Ground, St John's Park, St Thomas' churchyard, Salter Road recreation ground, and Oakfield Football Club.
At one time Ryde had two separate piers; the other being the Victoria Pier, no longer in existence. Ryde has its own inshore rescue service which mostly has to deal with people becoming stranded on sandbanks as the incoming tide cuts them off from the shore. The pier is also a feature of the 67-mile (108 km) Isle of Wight Coastal Path, which is marked with blue signs with a white seagull.
Ryde has a small marina located to the east of Ryde Pier. It is tidal and dries out at low water, hence it is more suitable for smaller sailing (bilge keel) and motor cruisers. It has provision for up to 200 boats, either on floating pontoons or leaning against the harbour wall. It has a full-time harbour master, who posts information on the notice board outside the harbour office, including weather reports, tide times, cruise-liner movements and anniversary events.
Ryde is a well-known place to shop on the Isle of Wight. The town centre is situated on a large hill, with local shops and major retailers.
The twin church spires visible from the sea belong to All Saints' (the taller) and Holy Trinity churches. All Saints' Church is located in Queens Road on a road junction known as Five Ways. It was designed by George Gilbert Scott and completed in 1872. The spire is 177 feet (54 m) tall. Holy Trinity Church is in Dover Street. It was designed by Thomas Hellyer and completed in 1845. Holy Trinity Church closed in January 2014 and the building became the Aspire Ryde community centre.
St James' is a further Church of England church in the centre of Ryde, on Lind Street. It was constructed in 1827 as a proprietary chapel and continues to be active, with services at 10:30am and 6:30pm each Sunday and a range of youth and mid-week groups.
The town's Roman Catholic church, St Mary's, stands in High Street. It was built in 1846 at a cost of £18,000, provided by Elizabeth, Countess of Clare. It was designed by Joseph Hansom inventor of the hansom cab. Other churches include the Anglican St James Church and St. Michael and All Angels, Swanmore. There are also Baptist, Methodist, United Reformed and Elim churches in the town.
Ryde Castle, situated on the Esplanade, was built about 1840 as a private house in crenellated style and is now a hotel. It was heavily damaged by a fire in 2012 and underwent major restoration in 2013.
Beldornie Tower on Augusta Road was at one point a property of the Earl of Yarborough. Dating back to the 16th or early 17th century, the house was virtually rebuilt about 1840 in Gothic-Jacobean style. A west wing was added in 1880.
Ryde School With Upper Chine stands opposite All Saints' Church. The chief building, Westmont, is Grade II listed.
Sited on the Esplanade are an ice rink and a pavilion. The former is no longer open to the public, leading to the Isle of Wight's ice-hockey team, the "Wightlink Raiders" disbanding. The pavilion houses a bowling alley and night club.
The town's local football team was for many years Ryde Sports F.C. has given way to Ryde Saints F.C. & Ryde F.C. SUNDAY.
Speedway is staged just south of the town at Smallbrook Stadium. The Isle of Wight Islanders started as members of the Conference League before moving up to the Premier League.
Ryde has five carnivals in a typical year: the Mardi Gras in June (established as The Arts Parade from 2003 to 2012); Children's, Main and Illuminated processions at the end of August, and a Lantern Parade in December. The Carnival at Ryde is England's oldest. Ryde Carnival remains the island's largest carnival, with local and visitor crowds exceeding 50,000.
In alphabetical order:
- Raymond Allen (born 1940), a TV screenwriter (Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em), attended Ryde Secondary Modern School.
- Sam Browne (1824–1901), the soldier after whom the belt was named, lived the last years of his life in a house called Argosy in East Hill Road, Ryde.
- Sir Charles Clifford, 4th Baronet (1821–1895), barrister and Liberal member of Parliament, lived at Westfield House.
- Seb Clover (born 1987), sailor, was educated at Ryde School with Upper Chine.
- Pablo Fanque (1810–1871), circus proprietor and equestrian, is referenced in The Beatles song, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", performed in Ryde in 1840, and promoted the performances through advertisements in the Hampshire Advertiser.
- Melvyn Hayes (born 1935), actor, currently lives in Ryde.
- Cornelius Jabez Hughes (1819–1884), a Victorian photographer and daguerreotypist, worked and died in Ryde.
- William Hutt (1801–1882), a colonial administrator, was educated in Ryde and resided at Appley Towers.
- David Icke (born 1952), writer and public speaker, lives in Ryde.
- Mark King born 1958, the Level 42 musician, originally from Gurnard, opened a pub, Joe Daflos, in Union Street, Ryde in the 1980s.
- John Lennon (1940–1980) and Paul McCartney (born 1942): the title of the 1965 Beatles song "Ticket to Ride" was inspired by a trip they took to Ryde in the 1960s, supposedly to visit Paul's cousin, who worked in the Bow Bars public house, Union Street. McCartney also mentions the Isle of Wight in the song "When I'm Sixty-Four".
- F. G. Loring (1869–1951), writer and naval officer, was born in Ryde.
- Karl Marx (1818–1883) and his wife Jenny Marx (1814–1881) visited Ryde for health reasons in the summer of 1874, staying in Nelson Street.
- Anthony Minghella (1954-2008), Hollywood director, was born in Ryde.
- Philip Norman (born 1943), writer, attended Ryde School and has written of his childhood in the town.
- Kieran Page (born 1983), professional road and track cyclist
- A. C. Pigou (1877–1959), economist, was born in Ryde.
- Albert Pollard (1869–1948), historian, was born in Ryde.
- Michael Sheard (1938–2005), actor (Mr Bronson in Grange Hill; Star Wars), lived in Ryde and died there.
- Walter Toogood (1874–1914), a professional golfer, was born in Ryde.
- M. J. Trow born 1949), military historian and detective fiction writer, taught history and politics at Ryde High School.
- Edward Vernon Utterson (1775/1776–1856), lawyer and one of the Six Clerks in Chancery, literary antiquary, collector and editor, moved in 1840 from Newport to Beldornie Tower, Pelham Field, Ryde, and set up the Beldornie Press there. He and his wife have memorial tablets in St Thomas's Church.
Ryde, seen from Ryde Pier and showing the twin spires.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ryde.|
Media related to Ryde at Wikimedia Commons