Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ventnor is a seaside resort established in the Victorian era on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. It lies underneath Saint Boniface Down, and is built on steep slopes and cliffs leading down to the sea. The higher part is referred to as upper Ventnor; the lower part, where most of the amenities are located, being known as lower Ventnor.
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 means that many species of subtropical plant have been successfully planted and maintained. Of particular note is Ventnor Botanic Garden. The gardens are unusually large and well stocked. Commissioned by Queen Victoria, part of the garden is built on the site what was once the Royal National Hospital for diseases of the chest, and is said to be haunted The gardens also contain a large temperate house.
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."
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.
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. 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.
The town's eastern railway station was the terminus of the Ryde to Ventnor line and brought many visitors. Another station existed at the western end of the town at St Lawrence, taking visitors to the western part of the Island, but both stations suffered the disadvantage of being well away from the main town, and necessitated a further road journey for travellers to get to their destination. The town suffered a period of economic decline, from which it has not fully recovered, following the closure of the stations in 1966.
Other places of interest
- Smaller Parks and Gardens: The town has a small park on the west side of town with a band stand, 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. A 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 are physically modelled and roads and towns are painted on.
- 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.
- 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: The town was also home of Burts Brewery, which closed in the 1980s and whose site was empty for many years. It was reopened as a microbrewery in 1996 as the Ventnor Brewery producing a number of Real ales including the quite unusual Oyster Stout.
- Crab Fair: Every year the town celebrates the town fair, based around the local crab harvest. It's held in a field near the botanical gardens.
- Carnival: Traditional English town carnival. Carnival Floats , Marching Bands and Drinking.
- The band The Bees are from Ventnor.
Other places named Ventnor
Ventnor is also 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.
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