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For the American city, see Ventnor City, New Jersey.
Ventnor - - 13244.jpg
Ventnor seafront.
Ventnor is located in Isle of Wight
 Ventnor shown within the Isle of Wight
Population 5,976 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid reference SZ562775
Unitary authority Isle of Wight
Ceremonial county Isle of Wight
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town VENTNOR
Postcode district PO38
Dialling code 01983
Police Hampshire
Fire Isle of Wight
Ambulance Isle of Wight
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Isle of Wight
List of places
Isle of Wight

Coordinates: 50°35′51″N 1°12′30″W / 50.5976°N 1.2084°W / 50.5976; -1.2084

Ventnor (/ˈvɛntnər/) is a seaside resort and civil parish[2] established in the Victorian era on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies underneath St Boniface Down (which, at 241 metres (791 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 is sometimes understood as including the coastal villages of St. Lawrence to one side and Bonchurch to the other.

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 varied geomorphology of the area in many ways defines the town. A significant area is 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.[3][4][5][6] This is the subject of displays at the Isle of Wight Coastal Visitors Centre in Ventnor.[7] One nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest is known as the Landslip.

Ventnor Beach

Above 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 caused destruction of numerous buildings over the years, serious cracking to the road that crosses it, and repeated disruption to the town's utilities supplied by pipes and cables that cross the fault. The latest evidence can be seen at the site of the former bus stop in Ocean View Road, where a 5" by 3" vent has opened up along the geological fault.[8]

Three miles off the coast of Ventnor, the seabed forms a long parallel ridge rising to within 15 metres (49 ft) 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 deep narrow channel known as St. Catherine's Deep.


Photochrom of Ventnor, 1899
Cottage Hospital, Ventnor, ca. 1899

The town grew from a small fishing hamlet in the 19th century between the two villages of Bonchurch to the east and St Lawrence to the west. Whereas each of those villages was a parish in its own right, the area now occupied by Ventnor was divided between the two larger parishes of Godshill and Newchurch to the north. Charles Dickens lived nearby for some time. However, it was with the coming of the Isle of Wight Railway in 1866 that the town became both a tourist and a health resort. The fresh Channel air and warm climate were 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 minutes.[9] The town reached its zenith in the inter-war period of the 1930s 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 somewhat smaller than comparable tourist beaches at nearby Sandown and Shanklin. Victorian era hotels in the town's suburbs and near the sea, such as Ventnor Towers Hotel, remain popular with tourists.


History of the railway[edit]

Ventnor railway station was the terminus of the Isle of Wight Railway (later called the Island Line) from Ryde through Sandown and Shanklin, and it brought many visitors to the town. Ventnor West railway station was the terminus of the Isle of Wight Central Railway line from Cowes through Newport. Both railway stations suffered from being well away from the town centre, necessitating a road journey for most travellers to reach their destination. Ventnor West railway station was closed in 1952, long before the closures ordered by Dr Beeching. Ventnor railway station was closed in 1966, as part of a plan which also saw the remaining Ryde - Shanklin line electrified. Thereafter the town suffered a period of economic decline, from which it has not fully recovered.
Between 2004 and 2010 a connecting Rail Link bus route 16, run by Wightbus, ran from St Lawrence and Ventnor to Shanklin, making the combined bus and rail journey to and from Ventnor easier during that period.[10]

Current bus services[edit]

Southern Vectis run buses on route 3 and 6 from Ventnor to destinations including Newport, Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin and Niton.[11] Additionally Island Minibus service run the local number 31 route which connects Ventnor to Bonchurch Village, the Botanic Garden and Esplanade. Previously operated by Wightbus, the link to the Esplanade was restored in 2011 after many years, despite previous suggestions it was impractical.[12]

Ventnor Cascade (August 2006)
Steephill Castle, Ventnor c1910. The castle was demolished in 1963

Ventnor Botanic Garden[edit]

Ventnor Botanic Garden is on the site of the now-demolished Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, and has a variety of tropical plants due to Ventnor's subtropical microclimate. A rainfall of 31 inches (790 mm) 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[edit]

The seaside of Ventnor
  • Ventnor Park is a moderately-sized park on the western side of town with a bandstand, aviary and stream, and a putting green open seasonally.
  • The Cascade Gardens On the esplanade there is a garden crossed with a waterfall, laid out in 1903,[13] around which winds the main path between the beach and the town. The waterfall is known as the Cascade. Below this is 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 4 metres (13 ft) tall 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 water pumping station, itself sympathetically disguised as a bandstand and observation platform, next to the harbour.
  • Antique and bric-à-brac stores: There are many of these in the main town shopping area, providing 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.[14] The town was home to Burt's Brewery, but it closed in the 1980s. After this, the site was empty for several years. The brewery reopened as a microbrewery in 1996, called the "Ventnor Brewery" which produced a number of cask ales, including Oyster Stout. It closed in 2009.[15]
  • 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.
  • Ventnor Exchange is an arts centre located in the town's old Post Office building on Church Street, opened in 2014. .[16] Created by the organisers of the Ventnor Fringe Festival it's programme focuses on emerging artists. It is primarily a producing house, but also hosts touring work.
  • Ventnor is on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.


As with the rest of the British Isles, Ventnor and the Isle of Wight experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The Met Office maintain a weather station at Ventnor Park. Ventnor currently holds the English record for the warmest nights for the months of...

  • May; 17.8 °C (64.0 °F) in 1989.
  • June; 22.7 °C (72.9 °F) in 1976
  • July, 22.6 °C (72.7 °F) again in 1976[17]
  • and 2nd warmest night on record in August,23.2 °C (73.8 °F) during 2003[18]

These records Illustrate the warming effect of Ventnor's coastal location during the hours of darkness.

Climate data for Ventnor Park 60m asl, 1971-2000
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.9
Average low °C (°F) 3.6
Source: YR.NO[19]

Wall lizard[edit]

The largest British colony of common 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.[20]



Ventnor Baptist Church


Schools in Ventnor include:

  • St. Francis Church Aided Primary School
  • St. Catherine's School, a special school for pupils with speech and language difficulties.
  • The Isle Of Wight Free School (secondary education)

Media references[edit]

Other places named Ventnor[edit]


  1. ^ "Resort population 2011". Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  2. ^ English Parishes & Welsh Communities N&C 2004
  3. ^ Landslips on The Isle of Wight
  4. ^ West & South Isle of Wight, Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline.
  5. ^ LUCCOMBE - BLACKGANG ISLE OF WIGHT (UNITED KINGDOM), Robin G. McGiness, Isle of Wight Centre for Coastal Environment
  6. ^ Life on the Edge, Undercliff Matters, English Nature, Issue 2, September 2003.
  7. ^ Isle of Wight Coastal Visitors Centre
  8. ^ "Hole in road is growing say residents". 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  9. ^ Liberty and Locality: Parliament, Permissive Legislation and Ratepayers' Democracies in the Nineteenth Century, John M. Prest, Clarendon Press, 1990
  10. ^ "Southern Vectis route list". Southern Vectis. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  11. ^ "Isle of Wight County Press - "Ventnor needs better buses"". Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  12. ^ Ventnor Heritage: Places in Ventnor
  13. ^ St Boniface's Well (Ventnor), The Megalithic Portal.
  14. ^ Ventnor Blog: Ventnor Brewery closes
  15. ^ "About the Exchange". Ventnor Exchange. Retrieved 2016-01-13. 
  16. ^ "Night minimum records, May, June, July". UKMO. 
  17. ^ "August 2003 Night Minimum record". UKMO. 
  18. ^ "Ventnor Climate". YR.NO. Retrieved 9 Nov 2011. 
  19. ^ "Gift to Nature - What we do - Ventnor Lizard Wall". Retrieved 2008-08-20. [dead link]

External links[edit]