Known as the gateway to the Isle of Wight, Ryde is the largest costal town on the Island and has a population of around 26,000.
Although only being some 5 miles across the Solent from Portsmouth, Ryde was not an ideal port for ships due to the low tides and extensive sand banks so arriving boat passengers had to 'wade' to the shore from their vessels or be 'carried' by crew members. So in 1814 the first pedestrian pier was built to facilitate landing. A tramway pier was added in 1864 and finally a railway pier in 1880 to carry the steam trains to meet the ferries from Portsmouth. The pier today is half a mile long and trains still run along it to meet the Wightlink passenger ferries.
Talking of ferries, one mode of transport which isn't affected by the low tides is the hovercraft. Perhaps an attraction in it's own right as Ryde has the oldest surviving scheduled passenger hovercragft service in the world so it's hardly surprising that the footbridge overlooking the hovercraft terminal is rarely without spectators when a hovercraft arrives or departs.
On a larger scale, Ryde is an ideal vantage point to view the passing liners as they make their way through the Solent to and from Southampton.
Ryde retains much of it's Victorian style in the shape of it's bulidings in Union Street where the Victorian arcade can be found amongst other popular shops. Unuion Street becomes a hive of activity during the week end evenings as it's where most of it's bars and restaurants can be found.
On the Espanade you can find another fine Victorian building; The Pavilion. This now is an entertainment complex which includes a 22 lane 10 pin bowing alley, amusements, night club and cafe-bar. Ryde has an extensive beach and when the tide goes out it's possible to walk half mile from the shore! Other attrcations include an Ice Rink, boating lake, bowling greens and a small fun fair.
Ryde features in our DVD; 'Around The Island Tour' .
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