This page shows a small selection of the artefacts donated to the Society by local people – we will add to it as the days go by. Some of these are everyday objects, others more intriguing, but they all have their own story, and the captions here explain what we know of them. And we are always interested to hear from anyone who has additional information.
A Tank Named Ventnor:
A Ryde man, who had been a prisoner of War in Germany, was on his way home to England at the end of the war, when he noticed a small brass plaque on a knocked out tank. The plaque read: Summer Savings Campaign 1942. The honour of naming this tank was won by the Ventnor Savings Committee Special distinction being gained by Ventnor Savings Groups. He promptly retrieved the plaque and brought it back to the Island. It was donated to the Society in 1986.
Part of our collection of material from the Second World War, this is a ‘Gas Helmet’, designed to be used for infants. Adults and children were all provided with ‘Gas Masks’ for use if there were an enemy attack using poison gas. This contraption was to be used for infants too young to use a gas mask. There never was a gas attack, but one does wonder how many of these infant Gas Helmets were made available to the population.
Nineteenth century wartime despatch case
The despatch case shown here belonged to General Sir Willoughby Gordon. Extent of usage of case indicated by Army Rank inscribed on lid Lt-Col. Sir Willoughby Gordon served as ADC to Wellington in Peninsular War. His wife was related to Swinburne family. His house was The Orchard, Niton Undercliff.
Nineteenth century wartime despatch case contents
The contents of the case include quill pens and nib cutter, paper, watermarked 1837, seal, eraser, french chalk, map, marker pins and ink wells.
Rosemary Blake, Jersey lobster boats in mid-Channel.
This is a framed painting by Rosemary Blake, Jersey lobster boats in mid-Channel (apologies for the quality of the photograph) . These vessels regularly met Ventnor boats at sea, and called at Ventnor.
Top Hat used by Ernest Biggin when fund-raising
This top hat was worn by Ernest Biggin for his fund-raising activities. Ernest Biggin was one of the founders of the Ventnor & District Local History Society, formed in 1980 by a group of like minded people who had attended a series of WEA lectures on The South Wight – An Introduction to its Historical and Literary Associations, held in the Ventnor County Library. Ernest Biggin was an untiring fund raiser, helping to raise the money needed to buy the premises in Spring Hill which opened in June 1987 as the Ventnor Heritage Centre.