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)

Ventnor and District Local History Society |

Ventnor and District Local History Society

Researcher Jeff Mazo in the archive room

Ventnor and District Local History Society covers Ventnor and the Undercliff, from Luccombe in the East to Chale in the west, including the inland villages of Whitwell, Wroxall and Godshill.

The Society was established in 1980 to research and preserve the local history of the area, and to encourage its study by meetings, exhibitions, studies, lectures and publications. In 1987 money was raised to establish a Heritage Centre with space to set up a museum for the public, and an office and archive area to store our collection.

Our archives:
Our collection contains photographs, prints, documents and artefacts, which are used to create displays and exhibitions in the museum. We also hold the Local History Indexes compiled over many years by the late Fay Brown.

The database listing items in our collection is available to search in the Heritage Centre, and our volunteers are happy to undertake research enquiries for visitors. There is no charge for this, but donations are very welcome, and are used for our conservation programme and to help us to preserve our collection.

We publish free newsletters for members three times a year, and provide a weekly local history page in the local paper, the ‘South Wight Chronicle’. Local history publications, many of them written by Society members, are available for sale in our museum shop,

Photographs and prints:
We have now embarked on a programme of digitising our collection to prints to preserve it for future generations. Some of the digital images have been used on this website, and we are adding more material all the time. If you would like higher resolution copies of any of the images here for publishing purposes please contact us. We can also provide prints for personal use for a small fee to cover admin costs.

Monthly meetings and talks:
We hold popular monthly meetings, which are open to the public,  with guest speakers covering a wide range of local history subjects (see Monthly Meetings).

We welcome new members, so please get in touch if you are interested in the local history of our area, and would like to get involved.  Annual membership runs from January to December and costs £10. Cheques should be made out to VDLHS and sent, along with your name, address and contact email to: Membership, Ventnor Heritage Centre, 11 Spring Hill, Ventnor PO38 1PE

[The Society is a Registered Charity No 286848]


From our archives

Town Band

The Town Band is thought to have been formed in 1863 by George and William Pearson and Albion Wheeler; at various periods there were other local bands.  After the Second World War there were efforts to re-form the band but these were unsuccessful. The bandleader in pre-war days was Jacob Hess and his son, Leonard Hess, was a first rate cornet player. Jacob's brother, Arthur, played the string bass and was a real character with a flowing beard.  Other players included Fred Richards, Jack Howell (cornet), Arthur Bennett, Frank Bailey, Burt Adams  (clarinet), Bart Brown, Ern Howell (trombone), Dodger Ward (piccolo), Dutch Lale (side drum) and Harold Barons (?) (Bass drum/ tubular bells). There were regular concerts on Sundays in Ventnor Park and the Pier Pavilion and the band headed the carnival procession for many years. Other town bands included the Band of Volunteer Rifle Corps and in 1918, the Band of C. Company IOW Volunteers Regiment.Read more...