8 Alexandra Gardens

Less is known about numbers 7 and 8, as the freeholds were sold very early to Henry Ingram and Sons, builders.

The most renown resident of the street, and one of the town's most prominent ever citizens, lived at number 8 for many years, A J Sharpe had a tremendous effect on the public life of Ventnor, and yet there is not a tangible memorial or plaque to him anywhere. He died in February 1953 aged 86.

Alfred James Sharpe
Alfred James Sharpe
photo courtesy: Ventnor Heritage Museum

Only a year before his death AJ Sharpe gave up his position as People's Warden at St Catherine's Church after 76 years service, which started as a choir boy at age 10. In 1893 he opened a drapery business in the town in the Clarence Buildings and expanded into Spring Hill selling furnishings and carpets in 1905. He later added another shop in the High Street from which he sold china and toys for many years.

AJ Sharpe was co-opted to the urban district council in 1918 (after missing out in the election in 1907 by one vote), chairing the council from 1919 to 1922 and remained a member until 1933. After his term of office finished in 1922 the Mercury recorded that "he had his finger on the pulse of affairs at almost every moment of his occupancy of the chair and the amount of time he devoted to it was enormous. No former chairman had taken such a lead in the social life of the town and as a magistrate he carried out his duties with great ability and zeal".

The history of Ventnor around 1920 will always be associated with A J (Alfred) Sharpe's name. He was chairman of the Carnival and Regatta Committee for many years, he took over the dying Advertising Association in 1918 and turned it into a live Town Advancement Association, and he worked hard to make the Pier a profitable venture in the early 1920's.

In 1922 AJ Sharpe was elected to the Isle of Wight County Council as representative for Ventnor Central Division and remained a member until he was made an Alderman in 1940. In later life he did a great deal of work towards the reorganisation of the Conservative Party on the island.

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Dates

Here are some of the key names and dates associated with the house, gleaned mostly from Kelly's Directories.

1886 Kelly's show the house as lodgings, run by Mrs Fanny Medley.
1888-92 Still Lodgings, but now run by Mrs Dora Arthur according to Kelly's. The 1891 Census tells us she had a 5 year old daughter, Beatrice.
1894 Kelly's list it as furnished apartments occupied by Mrs James (same name as in number 7 at the same time).
1901 The Census shows that Hilda Hessing (or could be Herring - handwriting difficult to read) was running it ad a lodgings house. She has a 7 year old son and a housemaid to help her.
1904-10 Apartments run by G T Dashwood, according to Kelly's (a G T Dashwood Jr went on to own number 7 - maybe a relation?).
1912 Shown as vacant in Kelly's.
1921-51 Kelly's list this as a private house occupied by Alfred Sharpe.

If you have further information about this house or have stayed there in the past please contribute to the 8 Alexandra Gardens thread in our discussion forum.

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