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 Heritage Centre Monthly Meetings |

Ventnor Heritage Centre Monthly Meetings

 When the Ventnor & District Local History Society was first established in the early 1980s it began by giving a variety of talks on Ventnor and the Undercliff. Today the society continues to give local history talks at the popular monthly meetings, which take place on the last Friday of the month except for August and December.

The speakers cover a wide range of topics and focus on the history of Ventnor, surrounding area and the Isle of Wight. Meetings are very well attended and are held at the Masonic Hall in Grove Road, Ventnor, starting at 7.30 pm.  Entry is free to members of the Society,  visitors are very welcome, entrance is £2.00


Upcoming Meetings for 2018:

13th April – Ventnor & District Local History Society, Annual General Meeting

27th April – ‘A Victorian Tour of the Isle of Wight’ By Bob Longton

25th May – ‘Lowtherville 1878 – 2018’ By Colin Beavis

29th June – ‘An Island Legacy’ By Kenneth Hicks

27th July – ‘A Victorian Boarding House & Renovation’ By Jonathan Collins

August – No Meeting

28th September – ‘Further Extracts from a Naturalist’s Journal’ By Andy Butler

26th October – ‘Isle of Wight Chapels’ By Len Pullinger

30th November – ‘Curiosities of the Isle of Wight No 2, Fact, Fiction or Fantasy’ By Mark Earp

December – No Meeting


Recent speakers include:

Professor Robin McInnes – ‘British Coastal Art’

Richard Smout – ‘The History of Island Elections’

Michael Freeman – ‘Mayfair by the Sea or Ventnor As You Never Saw It’

Colin Beavis – ‘History of Ventnor Bowling Club’

Jonathan Collins – ‘Researching British Soldiers of The Great War 1914-1918’

Janet Griffin – ‘The Ventnor Connection’

Andy Butler – ‘Extracts from a Naturalists Journal’

Judy Ballinger – ‘Pitfalls of Family History Research’

Roger Silsbury – ’50 Years of Railway Preservation on the IOW’

Richard Downing – ‘Ventnor Saved My Life’

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our past guest speakers for sharing their time and knowledge with us.

A Society Meeting

Exhibitions, stories, images . . .

The wreck of the ‘Underley’

As we know, the 'Back of the Wight' was certainly a dangerous place for mariners. But casualties also occurred off the Ventnor Coastline as well. In September 1871, the fully rigged ship "Underley" came ashore between Bonchurch and Dunnose Point. The ship was built in 1866 for the Australian trade. The owner was a Captain Chambers, who traded as the Liverpool and Lancaster line. The vessel was build in Lancaster and was regarded as a ship of fine lines with a tonnage of 1200 tons and carried passengers as well as cargo. The ship sailed from the Thames bound for Melbourne, but only two days later came to grief at Bonchurch. On the night of 25th/26th September she drove ashore in a south-easterly gale. On board were thirty passengers, the cargo included cotton goods, machinery and gunpowder. The captain was Captain Tidmarsh, but it transpired that a pilot from the Thames was in charge. Why was the ship so close into Bonchurch, which with a south-easterly gale would have made it a lee shore? The Court of Inquiry blamed the pilot for absence of care, and the captain for negligence in leaving his ship in charge of a pilot whose responsibilities ended at Dungeness. Tugs were sent out from Portsmouth but could not move her, as by now she had broached broadside on to the waves. The Ventnor coastguard stood by with their rocket line. All her passengers and crew were saved, except for a steward, a Mr Richard Tatton-Groves, who foolishly re-boarded the vessel, it is said to rescue his pet bird, and was washed overboard as the vessel began to break up. The crew were taken to 'East Dene' to recover, the pilot and the captain were accommodated at the Commercial Inn at Ventnor. This fine vessel became a total loss. For many years its ornately carved name board was to be seen affixed to a barn wall on the Landslip path close to where the wreck took place. We understand the board is now kept safely at a nearby property. Graham Bennett, September 2012 [easy_image_gallery gallery="877"]