From Peter Gruner, Ryde: The anniversary of the sinking of the Royal George in the Solent, nearly 240 years ago, in which up to 1,000 people perished — with many buried at Ryde — is tomorrow, Saturday, August 29. Yet, sadly, plaques commemorating the disaster, in 1782, in a seafront memorial garden at Ryde, on the corner of the Strand and East Hill Road, are so faded and weather worn they are almost unreadable. It appears we are forgetting that many visitors come to the IW for its history and often go away disappointed by the lack of care of our heritage. Back in September 2004 the County Press covered a memorial service for those who died on the Royal George, involving representatives of the Royal Naval Association, Fleet Air Arm, Ryde branch of the Royal British Legion, the IW Council, Ryde sea cadets, and Ryde Town Management Committee. It is a pity that some lasting memorials have fallen into disrepair. The ship was intentionally “rolled” for routine maintenance whilst anchored at Spithead off Portsmouth when it started to take in water and then sank. Many of the drowned were washed ashore at Ryde and are reputedly buried along the seafront and the site of the boating pool. It was one of the most serious maritime losses to occur in British waters.

A new book, published early this year, covers the disaster in detail. It’s called Catastrophe at Spithead: The Sinking of the Royal George written by Hilary L. Rubinstein.