Local History Articles

The Central Kitchen

The Central Kitchen, by Colin Beavis The Central Kitchen was built at the top of Lowtherville Road in Upper Ventnor in 1946. It adjoined St. Margaret’s School. A small army of cooks and support staff provided 500 meals a day to local schoolchildren. In the 1990s, the building was converted for community use as St. Margaret’s… read more »

Ventnor Beach by Wickenden & Co

Ventnor Beach by Wickenden & Co, by Michael Freeman A fine picture of Ventnor beach from the 1920s tells the story of how fast social proprieties over bathing were changing. While many of the wheeled bathing machines remain, a few have been converted to stationary huts and there are some new changing tents for bathers…. read more »

Wickenden & Co Photographers Ventnor

Wickenden & Co Photographers Ventnor, by Michael Freeman Robert Wickenden was a photographer and post-card seller who first opened a shop in Ventnor in 1901. He specialised in outdoor photography, as seen in many of his post-cards. By 1910, he was established in both High Street and Pier Street, with the firm remaining at 31… read more »

Rene Howe: one among Ventnor’s finest

Rene Howe: one among Ventnor’s finest. By Michael Freeman. The recently reopened Rene Howe Walk outside the entrance to the Winter Gardens down by the Cascade to the Haven and Esplanade was named after Rene,  a teacher at Ventnor Junior School for some 30 years, and remembered by two generations of Ventnor children. PDF of… read more »

Dorcas Barnett

Dorcas Barnett by Colin Beavis. Dorcas Barnett will always be remembered as a key driving force behind Ventnor’s successful carnivals in the 1970s and 1980s. But she will also be familiar from Barnet’s Pork Butchers on Ventnor High Street, where she took the money at a tiny ticket window at the rear of the shop… read more »

Standpipes in Lowtherville, February 1963

Standpipes in Lowtherville, February 1963, by Colin Beavis The winter of the early months of 1963 was one of the coldest on record. In Lowtherville, some residents of older homes faced almost permanently frozen water pipes and had to queue regularly at standpipes in the road to obtain water. Read PDF version of the article… read more »

Beach Hotel Soda Fountain

Beach Hotel Soda Fountain by Michael Freeman. The soda fountain was an American invention of the early 20th Century that was introduced to Britain from the 1920s. Ventnor’s Beach Hotel became part of the Southern Hotels Group at that time (along with the Metropole) and its seafront cafe was soon offering American style soda drinks… read more »

St Boniface Villa or Hotel

St Boniface Villa or Hotel. By Michael Freeman. St. Boniface Villa was one of Ventnor’s earliest buildings, imitating an Italian style. It was a hotel until 1859, but then became the residence of the Revd. John Roper and his two sisters. By 1888, it had been turned into a rest home for London cabmen. Then… read more »

Shopping in Ventnor in 1972 . . . under candlelight

Shopping in Ventnor one Friday morning in 1972…but under candlelight, by Michael Freeman. In 1972, during the miners’ strike electricity was rationed and shops and businesses operated in darkness, and the Isle of Wight Mercury writer, Stanley Cotton, wrote an article entitled Ventnor under Candlelight. The article includes photos of Field’s and Nigh’s shops and… read more »

March’s Bakery, Ventnor

March’s Bakery, Ventnor, by Colin Beavis The article describes the bakery business of Clement Harry March, always known just as Harry March.  It includes photos of the old bakehouse in Down Lane, the front of Harry’s  shop and café in Church Street, and an advertisement from the Isle of Wight Mercury – Harry had shops… read more »