If you head to the Royal Victoria Arcade on Union Street this summer, you’ll discover a quaint little museum which pays homage to Donald McGill — the king of the saucy seaside postcard.
From the 1890s to recent times, the seaside postcard was a favourite way to send messages to family and friends — now mainly bypassed by texts and emails.
In a 58-year career, Donald McGill drew more than 12,000 designs. These ranged from supporting the suffragette movement, raising the country's morale against Kaiser Bill and Hitler in the two World Wars, and a whole collection of poking fun at the British on their seaside holidays. A lot of the humour is typical of the music hall comedians — definitely not politically correct!
Donald McGill. Photo courtesy of Bernard Crossley.
Complaints about the vulgarity of some cards had started in the early 1900s (not just McGill — there were many other artists), and by the end of the second World War local censorship committees had been formed in many seaside towns around the country. Each committee had its own benchmarks for obscenity — cards banned in one town could be bought in the next.
On the Island, it was left to Ryde magistrates to decide if the cards were obscene. In 1953, following a complaint in the Isle of Wight Times, five shops in Ryde were raided and over 5,000 cards seized. Following a trial, nearly 3,000 of them were destroyed.
Those 'obscene' cards have been reprinted, and, along with many others, can now be purchased from the Donald McGill Saucy Seaside Postcard Museum, part of the Museum of Ryde, underground in the Royal Victoria Arcade, Union Street, Ryde.
Run by volunteers, the Museum of Ryde is open from 11am to 4pm, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Entrance for adults is £4, with under-16s free.
For a 25% voucher (until the end of August 31st 2022), pick up a copy of the August Beacon, or download on the homepage of our website.