Ryde viewed from the Solent
|Population||32,072 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Isle of Wight|
|Ambulance||Isle of Wight|
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 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 such as Sainsbury's, Co-operative Food, Carphone Warehouse and Peacocks.
The twin church spires clearly 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.
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.
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Ryde, seen from Ryde Pier and showing the twin spires.
Media related to Ryde at Wikimedia Commons