The Royal Victoria Arcade


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
The Royal Victoria Arcade, Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight


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Statutory Address:
The Royal Victoria Arcade, Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Shopping arcade, 1835-6 by William Westmacott, including a contemporary ice well.

Reasons for Designation

The Royal Victoria Arcade at Ryde is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Date: built between 1835-6 and designed by William Westmacott it is an early example of a purpose-built shopping arcade; * Degree of survival: the arcade survives substantially intact, except for a modification to the central entrance in 1856, and was restored in 2011; * Rarity: pre-1840 shopping arcades are a rare building type. The Royal Victoria also includes a rare contemporary internal ice well below the basement.


The Royal Victoria Arcade was designed by William Westmacott and built between 1835-6 at a cost of £10,000. It was named after Princess Victoria following her stay at Norris Castle. The arcade was designed to contain 14 shops on the ground floor with living accommodation above, a large room for the exhibition of works of art on the north side and a large basement for a market with an internal ice well below it. An engraving of circa 1840, reproduced in the 2006 revision of the Isle of Wight volume of 'Buildings of England', shows a fountain playing in the rotunda and painted decoration to the dome. The central part of the exterior ground floor was modified in 1856 when the original three arched openings were replaced by a flat opening. The building underwent restoration in the 1970s and again in 2011. The exhibition room was later used for a number of small shops and the underground market became The Ryde Heritage Centre.


DATE: a purpose-built shopping arcade built in 1835-6, designed by the architect William Westmacott (1792/3-1880) in Italianate style. The principal entrance on the south-east side was modified in 1856 and the building was restored in the 1970s and 2011.

MATERIALS: stuccoed with hipped slate roof.

PLAN: roughly cruciform in plan, aligned south-east to north-west, of two storeys with basement. 14 shops, originally with living accommodation above, are situated on either side of a central passage running from south-east to north-west and occupying four quadrants surrounding a rotunda situated towards the north side, which has shorter passages on the south-west and north-east sides. There is a larger exhibition space to the north-east, laterly in use by a number of small shops. The large basement market was later used as the Ryde Heritage Centre and has an internal ice well below it.

EXTERIOR: the principal south-east front to Union Street has a wide central entrance bay flanked by slightly projecting wings. The entrance bay has a dentil cornice and parapet, surmounted by the Royal Arms of Princess Victoria, which are supported by a rather Baroque Lion and Unicorn, and capped by a flagstaff. Below this in original serif letters is inscribed 'ROYAL VICTORIA ARCADE'. The shaped architrave with keystone over the entrance, filled in with a fascia panel, dates from 1856. Flanking the central entrance are a slightly projecting pair of two storey and basement pavilions with low pitched pyramidal slate roofs with bracketed eaves, rising to a finial. There are friezes with moulded strings below. The first floors each have a recessed sash window with glazing bars intact, in a surround with raised edge, a pediment over, on consoles, and a small stuccoed balcony with diamond patterned balustrade, supported on shaped brackets below the string. Below are tripartite shop windows divided by pilasters. Low screen walls surmounted by finials and pierced by doors, connect the arcade with the adjoining buildings.

INTERIOR: on the principal south-east front three steps lead up to the arcade interior which is set back from the front and linked to it either side by concave bays. The ground floor of each of these has double glazed doors of two fielded panels flanked by quarter Doric pilasters. The first floors have a tripartite sash window, glazing bars intact, with Doric pilasters dividing, with moulded string across the bay, linking the capitals. The frieze and cornice above break forward slightly over the window as an entablature. The balcony, on capped consoles with flanking stucco piers and coping, has a balustrade of crossed iron bars with lead rosettes. The eastern arm of the arcade leads to a rotunda with the main axis continued for one bay to the west. There are similar extensions north and south, the latter with a window instead of a door at the end. The whole is articulated by giant Doric pilasters on pedestals, the frieze and cornice breaking forward over them. Their line is continued by squat pilasters, dividing the clerestory, and supporting the cross beams of the ceiling with pattern and rosette to the centre of the recessed panel in each compartment.

The rotunda has a radially compartmented saucer dome with oculus containing leaded painted glass, depicting the Royal Coat of Arms in the centre. The paintings on the dome panels were added in the early C21. The clerestory of the arcade has four lights with marginal glazing to each bay. The bays are treated in a similar manner to the concave ones at the entrance, with balconied tripartite first floor windows, but they are broader and on the ground floor. The two middle shops have a tripartite front, with their Doric pilasters, panelled risers, small canted bay in the centre and a door to the right with marginal glazing and bottom panels. There is similar glazing to the square fanlight and to the upper light of the side window. The outer shops also have a tripartite front but without a bay window. The narrower terminal bays at either end of the arcade have a window treated as a door belonging respectively to the shops giving onto Union Street and to the larger ones on the east side of the rotunda. The ground floor of the segments of the rotunda have large four-pane windows flanked by quarter pilasters and on the first floor the balconies are recessed between the pilasters of the tripartite windows. The north and south arms have similar tripartite shop fronts to the outer ones on the main axis, whilst the west arm has a tripartite window each side on the ground floor with panelled risers to the side lights. The west door is double with two moulded panels at the base and tall lights. The side lights are identical. Above is a large semi-circular fanlight with marginal leading and painted glass. The architrave over, with large keystone, springs from the moulded string. The door in the end wall of the north arm is similar but narrower, without side lights and with a blind fanlight. The south arm has a tripartite window with glazing bars, Doric pilasters, with a semi-circular leaded fanlight over, in a similar surround to the doors. The stone floor to the passages has a series of cast iron ventilation grilles but was overlaid by tiles in the early C21.

The basement contains an underground market, later the Ryde Heritage Centre. Below it is a circa 1835 circular ice well built of brick. This is approximately 18 feet in height and 11 feet in diameter with a domed roof and curved base with central drain. The ice well is intact except for the wooden entrance door.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Lloyd, D W, The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight, (2006)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 20 Jun 2005
Reference: IOE01/14556/31
Rights: Copyright IoE Lorna Freeman. Source Historic England Archive
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