Magical memories of the way Ryde was

By Keith Newbery

Published on Friday, March 30, 2012 - 11:15


Magical memories of the way Ryde was

With a little technical help — Charlotte Hofton and the (1948) Olympic torch.

THIS ISLAND LIFE NOSTALGIA, like football, is a funny old game.
We columnists attempt to stir up interest by airing a particular memory and wait in vain for some response from an underwhelmed readership.
Then I get my mother to list the Ryde shops she remembered from 50 or 60 years ago and the letters, phone calls and e-mails start flying in from people whose memories have been galvanised.
Many recalled shop names not included in my original column, so, like all good sons, I must spring to mater s defence.
I asked her to name as many as she could from the top of Well Street, so that ruled out Tommy Dyke s fish shop situated between West Street Post Office and the Falcon Inn, as well as Mr Charlo, the cobbler, a little further down.
This place evoked a special memory for Tony Lambert, who wrote from Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire.
I can still recall the smell of glue and leather in that shop as if it were yesterday.
My childhood was spent in Hill Street, so my world centred round the top end of the High Street. There was Stainer s Dairy and Bartlett s Coal as well as Mr Southam s newsagents, where my mother paid a weekly sum towards my Christmas annuals.
Saturday evenings were spent queuing outside Holbrook s at the top of St John s Hill waiting for the bundles of Football Mails to arrive and hoping the sailor on the front had his thumbs up!
Nick Sheppard recalled Nevison s butcher shop and gave an honourable mention to Clark s electrical and toy shops, which enjoyed a long-standing rivalry with Young s.
Sprightly 89-year-old Cecil Petty wrote from Somerset to remind me of Paul s coach tours, Read s coaches, Pearce s and Ward s at the bottom of Union Street, as well as Dinellis just round the corner on the seafront.
Other places he brought to mind included Gurd s sausage and mash cafe in Melville Street, Lock s the pork butcher, John Cox and Wheeler s (both wet fish merchants) Gumbrell s confectionery shop and Parkes bicycle shop in John Street.
Sheila Woodford got in touch to remind me of her father, George Toms, who used to run a greengrocers and florists in the upper High Street. Upon his retirement in the Seventies he used to contribute a regular gardening column to the old Weekly Post.
Sheila also recalled Ernest Jolliffe s grocery shop on the corner of Green Street, another small grocery outlet near the Catholic church run by Mr and Mrs Harvey, Attrill s the florists and Mr Dimmer s bookshop.
She also pointed out four other bakeries in this part of town (Fry s, Irwin s, James s and Wray s) which were all within a stone s throw of each other.
Dick Huard wrote: I spent my childhood on the Island before moving to Canada and I can remember Sambrook s the butchers in Monkton Street as well as Macfisheries in the High Street near Woolworths.
Timothy White s (or Timothy White s and Taylor to give it its official title) was mentioned by a number of correspondents and it brought back a special memory for Julie Wise.
She said: They had the chemist s at the top of Union Street, and a couple of hardware shops. One was at the bottom of the High Street where Beardsalls is now, and the other was on the corner of the High Street and St John s Hill.
I worked in both hardware shops from the age of 13 when holiday and weekend jobs were easier to come by than they are now and, of course, there were no health and safety laws in those days.
My thanks to everyone for taking the trouble to get in touch.
Many years from now, when my name is on a moss-encrusted gravestone rather than at the top of this column, someone else will be knocking out a few hundred words every week to fill this space.
Memories of Ryde may even feature prominently but I suspect the magic will be long gone.
After all, who s going to get excited about recalling a High Street full of charity shops, building societies and fast-food outlets?

Who knew Charlotte and me were old flames?

IT LOOKS as if my application to be one of those wandering around the West Wight with the Olympic torch has come to nothing.
I d like you to believe my determination to be part of this distinguished relay was down to a consuming desire to display patriotic fervour and make my own small contribution to British sporting history.
The truth, however, is rather more prosaic.
Had I been among the chosen few, I would immediately have offered my place to the cellar-dweller on this page.
Should my motives be interpreted as noble, generous, chivalrous or magnanimous?
Not really. I just wanted the opportunity to go around the Island telling people Charlotte Hofton was carrying a torch for me...

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