National Gazetteer (1868) - Ryde
"RYDE, a chapelry, post and market town, in the parish of Newchurch, liberty of East Medina, Isle of Wight, county Hants, 5 miles S.W. of Portsmouth, 7 N.E. of Newport, and 79 S.W. of London. It is situated on the declivity of a hill extending to the shores of the Solent Water, and opposite to Stokes Bay and Portsmouth Harbour. It is a sub-port to Cowes, and is a coastguard station. It was anciently called La Rye, or Ride, and was burnt by the French in 1377. Less than a century back Ryde was but a small fishing village, but within the last 50 years it has rapidly risen into a thriving and prosperous town, and now ranks as one of the most pleasant bathing places on the S. coast.
The town is well paved, lighted with gas, and amply provided with excellent water. The principal streets are well laid out and enlivened with numerous shops, especially in Union-street. From its advantageous situation it commands a sea prospect, taking in Spithead and the Motherbank, with a more distant view of Haslar Hospital and the town of Portsmouth. There are several hotels and numerous lodging-houses, also the Victoria arcade, freemasons' hall, literary institute, theatre, assembly rooms, two banks, a savings-bank, market-house, and townhall, which last has a Doric portico, erected in 1830 from designs by J. Sanderson, whose bust by Chantrey is here. On the eastern, southern, and western sides the town is rapidly extending, and there is a newly constructed railway from Ryde to Shanklin. The pier, which is constructed of timber, was opened in 1814, but since that period has undergone considerable improvements. It extends in length about 2,000 feet across the flats, and is from 12 to 20 feet in width, serving as an excellent promenade. There is also an esplanade facing the sea, the carriage way being nearly 1 mile in extent, and the foot-path extending 3 miles to a place called Sea View.
There are besides docks and a new iron pier, both of which have recently been erected by the Isle of Wight Steam Ferry and Stokes Bay Railway Company. During the summer season steamboats run to and from Portsmouth every half-hour during the day, and in the winter months between eight and ten times per day. Steamboats also run to Cowes, Southampton, Portsea, and Southsea. On the W. side of the pier stands the Royal Victoria Yacht Club house, the first stone of which was laid in 1846 by the late Prince Consort. The reservoirs for the supply of the town and the shipping with pure spring water, were formed by the pier company in 1840. Soles and lobsters are caught on the coast, and the herring fishery affords employment to many of the poorer residents.
The living is a curacy annexed to the vicarage* of Newchurch, in the diocese of Winchester. The church, dedicated to St. Thomas, has a tower surmounted by a light spire. It was erected in 1827 at the expense of G. Player, Esq., of Ryde Hall, to whom the manor of Ashey came through the Dillingtons. There are also St. James's Episcopal chapel, a modern structure, with a campanile turret over the western entrance, and a new church with a spire 146 feet high, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The charities are numerous, including almshouses, Erected in 1854 at the expense of Mrs. F. Wilder. There are several National, British, and infant schools, also a naval school, and a Roman Catholic school. The Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Baptists, and Roman Catholics have each a place of worship. The neighbourhood is studded with residences mostly surrounded by pleasure gardens; among the principal are West Mount, Appleby, St. John's, St. Clare, Fairy Hill, Quarr Abbey, Wootton Bridge, St. Helen's, and the mansions of the Duke of Buckingham and Earl Spencer. Market days are Tuesday and Friday. A fair is held on the 5th July. A regatta takes place at the latter end of August, or the beginning of September."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]