While on the Isle of Wight last week we caught a bus to Ryde and after looking round the town, and browsing in all the charity shops, went into the Royal Victoria Arcade half way down the hill on the way to the sea. Towards the back we noticed some steps going down to the Ryde Heritage Museum (and Donald McGill Museum – but that’s worth a separate review!)
At the bottom of the steps (also facility for wheelchair, I’m almost certain) we were welcomed by a volunteer who explained a bit about the Museum that had been opened by the Duke of Gloucester in 2012. He then left us to look round on our own while he rejoined the other men discussing ideas. Well, we could have spent all day there. It was packed with pictures, documents and items relating to local people and places, many having been donated by residents. It was a rabbit warren, with one little room leading through a corridor, into another section. The volunteers have spent years researching the history of Ryde and we looked at information and memorabilia from the businesses in the town. There were tokens from Ryde Gas Company, a silver pocket watch from a Ryde jewellers, even the luggage scales from the end of Ryde pier.
There was a collection of military items and Isle of Wight Rifles memorabilia and in one area I sat to watch a film about the start of the Hovercraft service. There was masses to take in and then we decided we just had to leave one of chaps offered to lead us through and show us the integral Ice Well. It was only discovered in 2012 after being bricked up since the 1950s and they think it’s the only one in the UK. There were men working hard getting another room ready for a display while we were there – a never-ending job, and obviously they are all doing it for nothing. I offered them a spare souvenir hanky of the Isle of Wight that I had with me and they were delighted to have it to put in one of their displays of local memorabilia.
We were the only people looking round the whole time we were there, which seemed such a shame. Hopefully next season they’ll get some Silver Travel Advisors visiting – and if so, make sure you spot my hanky won’t you!