Ventnor Heritage Centre

"To Collect, Record and preserve the rich heritage and history of Ventnor and surrounding villages, and share it with local and wider communities"

About Ventnor Heritage Centre |

About Ventnor Heritage Centre

Ventnor Heritage Centre, with its museum and archive, records how the town grew from a tiny fishing hamlet in 1840 to a fashionable Victorian resort complete with two railway stations and a pier, and how the villages of Bonchurch and St Lawrence became a favourite destination for writers and artists including Dickens and Macaulay. We have an extensive collection of photographs and documents, and books, prints and postcards are available for sale in our shop.  We are open all year – see Visit us for opening times, location and admission charges.

The Heritage Centre is also the headquarters of the Ventnor and District Local History Society.

We are involved in community events, providing talks and slide shows on local history, and local heritage walksl  We also take part in the Ventnor Carnival and Fringe programme – in 2017 we collaborated with Ventnor Guitar Group on ‘Playing with History’, and in 2016 we showed  ‘Ventnor Unseen’,  a compilation of archive film clips with a soundtrack specially provided by local artists, which included  ‘Storm of 87’ written and performed by Paul Armfield.

One of the most interesting parts of our work is collecting local stories and memories; you can see some of these by searching this website for ‘Your Stories’, and if you would like to contribute your own stories or photographs, please see our main Your Stories page.

The Ventnor Heritage Centre and Local History Society are both entirely run and managed by volunteers. If you think y ou might be interested in joining us, please have a look at our Volunteering Opportunities – we would be delighted to  hear from you!

 


Exhibitions, stories, images . . .

Paddle Steamers

In 1863 the PS (Paddle Steamer) Chancellor was wrecked attempting a landing a Ventnor Harbour pier, holed on the Lion Rock. In 1887 Southsea-Ventnor-Sandown  & Shanklin Steamboat Co started services, and in 1888: P S Dandie Dinmont , 'Ventnor's own steamer', was brought down from Scotland.  Despite a chequered career, including sinking in Portsmouth Harbour, she lasted until 1899. By 1900 there were many fine paddle steamers in Solent waters, and  most, if not all, called at Ventnor Pier, including Balmoral, Lorna Doone, Solent Queen, Bournemouth Queen, Empress, Emperor of India, Stirling Castle, Princess Helena, Duchess of Norfolk, Cambria, Glen Rosa, and Monarch. In this golden age trips were available to Sussex, Dorset and even Devon resorts as well as across the channel. From the 1930s until the 1950s more well known steamers called, including Gracie Fields and Princess Elizabeth. Between 1940 and 1945 many steamers had an heroic war. A lot were lost or returned in run down condition and had to be scrapped. The 1960s saw the end of 'paddlers', but from the 1980s onwards, although there is no pier at Ventnor, the PS Waverley can still be seen passing on her annual visits to the South coast.  

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