infobox UK place
country = England
map_type=Isle of Wight
official_name= Ventnor
latitude= 50.5976
longitude= -1.2084
population = 7000
unitary_england= Isle of Wight
lieutenancy_england= Isle of Wight
region= South East England
constituency_westminster= Isle of Wight
post_town= VENTNOR
postcode_district = PO38
postcode_area= PO
dial_code= 01983
os_grid_reference= SZ562775

Ventnor is a seaside resort and civil parish [ [ English Parishes & Welsh Communities N&C 2004] ] established in the Victorian era on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. It lies underneath St Boniface Down (which, at 787 feet, is the highest point on the Isle of Wight), and is built on steep slopes and cliffs leading down to the sea. The higher part is referred to as Upper Ventnor (although officially it is Lowtherville); the lower part, where most of the amenities are located, being known as Ventnor. Ventnor can sometimes include the villages of St. Lawrence and on the other side of town the village of Bonchurch.

The sheltered location on the cliff of the island's south coast means the area experiences a microclimate with more sunny days than much of the British Isles, and fewer frosts. This has allowed many species of subtropical plant to be successfully planted and maintained. Ventnor Botanic Garden is particularly notable.


The geomorphology of the area in many ways defines the town. It varies greatly, with a significant area built on clay which suffers from serious landslip. The ground at Ventnor is notoriously unstable, and many buildings and amenities have been lost to subsidence or cliff-falls. There is a local expression: "We live near the sea and are getting nearer every day." This has led to considerable concern and study of the situation. [ [ Landslips on The Isle of Wight] ] [ [ West & South Isle of Wight] , Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline.] [ [ LUCCOMBE - BLACKGANG ISLE OF WIGHT (UNITED KINGDOM)] , Robin G. McGiness, [ Isle of Wight Centre for Coastal Environment] ] [ [ Life on the Edge] , Undercliff Matters, English Nature, Issue 2, September 2003.] This is the subject of displays at the Isle of Wight Coastal Visitors Centre in Ventnor. [ [ Isle of Wight Coastal Visitors Centre] ] One nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest is known as "The Landslip".

At the top of the town is a geological fault known as the Graben, which marks the top of the series of landslips on which Ventnor is built. This fault moves regularly, and has been the cause of the destruction of numerous buildings over the years, serious cracking to the road which crosses it, and repeated disruption to the town's utilities, which are supplied by pipes and cables which have to pass over the fault.

Three miles (five kilometres) off the coast of Ventnor, the seabed forms a long parallel ridge and rises to within fifteen metres of the surface. The action of the sea rushing up the channel and being forced between the Island and this ridge, has carved out a narrow channel of extraordinary depth known as St. Catherine's Deep.


The town grew from a small fishing hamlet in the nineteenth century between the two villages of Bonchurch to the east (whose parish Ventnor is situated in) and St Lawrence to the West. Charles Dickens lived nearby for some time. However, it was with the coming of the Isle of Wight Railway in 1866 which saw the town become both a tourist and a health resort. The fresh English Channel air and warm climate was considered to be very beneficial to the sufferers of tuberculosis. Several sanatoriums were established in Ventnor for those suffering from the disease. The Isle of Wight Railway at one time ran a non-stop train from Ryde to Ventnor which was named 'The Invalid Express' specifically to rush consumptive patients to their treatment at Ventnor. One train famously completed the journey in a little over twenty minutesFact|date=January 2008. There is no record of the effect this dash had on the already ill passengers. The town reached its zenith in the inter-war period of the nineteen-thirties with regular steam packets operating between Southsea and the town's pier. The sandy beach was ideal for bathing, and is still popular today, although it is much smaller than other comparable tourist beaches at nearby Sandown and Shanklin.


History of Railway

Ventnor railway station was the terminus of the Island Line railway from Ryde through Sandown and Shanklin, and it brought many visitors to the town. Ventnor West railway station was the terminus of the line from Cowes through Newport. Both stations suffered from being well away from the town centre, necessitating a road journey for travellers to get to their destination. Ventnor West station was closed early in the 1950s, long before the closures ordered by Dr Beeching. Ventnor station was closed in 1966, ironically just before the surviving Ryde - Shanklin line was electrified. Thereafter the town suffered a period of economic decline, from which it has not fully recovered.
However, since 2004, a connecting Rail Link bus (Service 16), run by Wightbus, has run from St Lawrence and Ventnor to Shanklin, making through rail journeys to and from Ventnor easier.

Current bus services

As mentioned above, Rail Link route 16 connects Ventnor to St Lawrence and Shanklin railway station; Southern Vectis run buses on route 3 and route 6 from Ventnor to destinations including Newport, Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin. [ [ Bus services] ] Additionally, Wightbus run the local number 31 route, which connects Ventnor to Bonchurch Village and provides additional journeys to Wroxall.

Ventnor Botanic Garden

Ventnor Botanic Garden is on the site of an old hospital and has a variety of tropical plants due to Ventnor's subtropical microclimate. A rainfall of 31 inches (790mm) per annum and a climate more akin to the Mediterranean seaboard enable a wide variety of plants considered too tender for much of mainland Britain to be grown. The garden includes areas of plants from different parts of the world, particularly Australia and New Zealand, but also including Japan and gardens with plants of a Mediterranean origin. There is a temperate house, and a visitor centre which was renovated in 2001.

Other places of interest

* Smaller Parks and Gardens: The town has a small park on the west side of town with a bandstand, aviary and stream. There is a garden crossed with a waterfall, built in the Victorian era of the town, around which winds the main path between the beach and the town. The waterfall is known as The Cascade. There is also a paddling-pool on the sea front esplanade. In the middle, rising out of the water is a model of the Isle of Wight which children can play on. The hills and inlets are physically modelled and the towns and roads (in red) are painted on. In the past, the Island's remaining railway line has also been shown (in black).
* VENTNOR Sign: There is a sign on the cliffs at La Falaise to the west of the beach which spells out the word VENTNOR in white concrete blocks, about four metres high and intended to provide a landmark visible from the sea. This replaced the chalk letters damaged in 1992. Since about the start of the current millennium, there have also been smaller metal capital letters spelling out the town's name. These are fixed to the seaward side of the Southern Water pumping station, itself sympathetically disguised as a bandstand and observation platform, next to the harbour.
* Antique and bric-a-brac stores: There are many of these in the main town shopping area, and these provide a tourist attraction in their own right.
* Ventnor Brewery: A brewery has been in Ventnor on the same location since the 1840s. Water from the local spring, which is called "St Boniface's Well" is used to make the beer. [ [ "St Boniface's Well (Ventnor)"] , The Megalithic Portal.] The town was home to Burts Brewery, but it closed in the 1980s. After this, the site was empty for several years. The brewery was reopened as a microbrewery in 1996, called the "Ventnor Brewery" The Ventnor Brewery produces a number of cask ales, including the quite unusual Oyster Stout.
* RAF Ventnor High above the town exists the former site of [ RAF Ventnor] , once an RAF radar monitoring station. Now used mainly for civilian communications antennae, the site provides views over the English Channel. However the site also contains an extensive bunker complex designed to be part of an early warning network and later converted for use as a shelter in case of a nuclear strike during the Cold War. The bunker, which was a variant on the [ P1 ROTOR] design, has now been sealed and is generally thought to be inaccessible.
* Coastal Centre: On the Eastern cliff, the [ Isle of Wight Coastal Visitor's Centre] provides access to information and resources on the Isle of Wight coastline. Ventnor is on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.

Wall Lizard

The largest British colony of Wall lizards live in walls around the town, and a wall specially designed as a habitat for them was recently built at the Botanic Garden. [Cite web|url=|title=Gift to Nature - What we do - Ventnor Lizard Wall|accessdate=2008-08-20]


* Crab Fayre: Every year the town celebrates the town fair, based around the local crab harvest. It's now held at Ventnor County Middle School in Upper Ventnor.
* Carnival: Traditional English town carnival held in the middle of August each year. Carnival Floats, Marching Bands and Drinking.
* Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival: The 3-day festival has been held every year since 2005 during what is normally the Easter school holidays, and attracts top names from the genre. Headline acts from previous years include Maceo Parker, Humphrey Lyttleton and Cleo Laine. Entry to the main concerts is by pre-bought or (rarely) on-the-door sold tickets, but other events are free, and take place in venues varying from hotels and cafés to churches and sports clubs. Various smaller Jazz gigs are held around the town throughout the year.


Schools in Ventnor include:
* Ventnor County Middle School
* St. Boniface Church of England Primary School
* St. Wilfred's Catholic Primary School
* St. Margaret's Church of England Primary School
* St. Catherine's School, a special school for students with speech and language difficulties.

Media references

* The band The Bees are from Ventnor.

Other places named Ventnor

* Ventnor is a seaside area found on the north side of the Phillip Island, which is off the southern coast of Australia. It was named after the English town mentioned above.
* Ventnor City is a coastal town in New Jersey adjacent to Atlantic City.


External links

* [ Ventnor website]
* [ Isle of Wight Tourism - Ventnor]
* [ Ventnor Blog ] - daily updates on what's going on in and around Ventnor.
* [ Old pictures of Ventnor and the undercliff]
* [ Ventnor Brewery]
* [ Things to do and places to eat and drink in Ventnor]
* [ Old pictures of Ventnor]
* [ Photos of Ventnor in 3d (Anaglyphs)]

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