Victorian Charm

I'm biased, I love Ventnor.

The Ventnor of today, is far better place than it was 15 years ago.

The closure of the train line serving Ventnor, and the British taking foreign holidays, turned this beautiful Victorian town, into a shadow of its former self.

Before the Victorians came Ventnor, was a small fishing hamlet. 1866 changed all that with arrival of the railway.

To say Ventnor has had some famous visitors is an understatement.

Karl Marx spent two winters convalescing in Ventnor. The novelist Charles Dickens, spent a summer in nearby Bonchurch, and wrote a significant portion of David Copperfield there. Even Gandhi holidayed here. My favourite resident was Henry De Vere Stacpoole who lived in Bonchurch. This Irish Physician, and Novelist wrote the novel Blue Lagoon, which spawned two films. He actually lived in neighbouring Bonchurch. There are many more famous visitors.

Bonchurch, is part of urban spread of Ventnor on the map, but Bonchurch is distinctly different from Ventnor in many ways.

The closure of the railway line in 1960's sucked the life out of Ventnor. It became tatty, with only a few hotels still flying the flag. The shops in particular suffered. On the upside, rents became cheaper and some quite distinctly different shops opened up. Antique shops in particular.

In recent years Ventnor has become a fashionable resort again with some top quality hotels, and good privately owned cafe′s, and pubs.

What makes Ventnor different from other resorts on the Isle of Wight is it steepness. Ventnor rises from the sea steeply, with some 1:4 inclines which would test even the fittest cyclist. In fact Ventnor is built on a series of terraces. This is where Ventnor's problem lies. It's moving slowly in the sea. Land movement has destroyed properties, and made other properties unsellable.

There are no attractions as such, except for the Ventnor Heritage Centre, which is well worth a nose around.

If you look around Ventnor you'll see blue historical plaques marking some of Ventnor's famous residents, and visitors. I'm proud to say my father produced some of them. Though sign written on wood, some still survive some thirty years later.

Why do I like Ventnor, and nearby Bonchurch? Well they both have character, and a certain quirkiness. Just wander around the town and the seafront. Sit in 0ne of the many excellent pubs and cafe′s on the Esplanade. Even on a winters day, I hope you might see why I love the place so much.

As for the walking and biking, the countryside and coast around Ventnor is most scenic on the Island.

The only downside to Ventnor is that it's not on the train line. But, buses are regular.

If you visit any town on the Island make Ventnor and Bonchurch a must visit.

 

Ventnor Info

Population: 5976 (2011 Census)

Buses: 3 & 6

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