Ventnor Heritage Centre

"To make the past present, to bring the distant near . . . to call up our ancestors before us with all their peculiarities of language, manners, and garb, to show us over their houses, to seat us at their tables, to rummage their old-fashioned ward-robes, to explain the uses of their ponderous furniture . . . " Thomas Babington Macaulay describing what the study of history can do (written in 1828)

The Museum |

The Museum

Here the Heritage Centre carries visitors back in time to explore Ventnor’s origins and the way it grew at phenomenal speed to become a premier Victorian resort town.

Our many display boards tell this story in words and pictures. There are finely detailed images from glass plate negatives that offer glimpses into vanished lives. There are reproductions of paintings from visiting artists of the time, fascinated as they were with the dramatic coastal scenery of Ventnor and the Undercliff and the people who came to visit. Other displays document the life-worlds of outlying villages in the earlier 20th Century, a time when horizons were limited and the pace of existence altogether different from today.

Current displays and exhibitions

Visitors will also see showcases of artefacts that recover lost material worlds. There are even models of the town’s vanished railway lines. We play several DVDs that offer voyages back in time. Finally, you can absorb our Victorian kitchen and laundry exhibits, telling of an age when household chores took on a scale that is difficult for many to appreciate today.

Exhibitions, stories, images . . .

Ventnor Fire Brigade c 1905

Ventnor Fire Brigade in about 1905.  The young lad second from the right is  John 'Jack' Jenkins, who at the time of this photograph was the brigade's call-boy. He was killed in action in Palestine with the IW Rifles on 2 November 1917.  The photograph, which belongs to the Isle of Wight Fire Brigades Federation, has a full list of the names in the picture, as follows: 'By the horses' - Mr Milligan and son, posting master. Back Row; Billy Atkins (driver), Bob Spencer, Harry Grey, Frank Beavis, Arthur Young. Middle Row; Jim Wheeler, George Pearson,  Harber, Bill Bannister. Front Row; Stan Harber, Foreman Charlie Jenkins, Captain Pearson, Bill Pearson, Tom Coleman (caretaker), Jack Jenkins (call boy), Harry Humphreys (caller).