Isle of Wight

W28 W13 'Ryde' was one of the Beyer Peacock 2-4-0T locomotives bought by the IoWR and entered service in 1864.  After 68 years of sterling service she was the penultimate class withdrawal in 1932. She is depicted here on the space saving turntable at Bembridge that would only turn locos of up to 30' 11". There was a similar one at Ventnor in the early days, although this latter was subsequently removed and replaced with a more conventional run-round.

photograph: GW Morant collection

1923 saw the Island's lines absorbed into the newly formed Southern Railway whereupon some upgrading of infrastructure took place and 30 locomotives were brought over from the mainland to replace those of the Island's railways, but little else changed with the Island rapidly becoming a timewarp in which lived outdated rolling stock that had been brought over by its railway companies after withdrawal from the mainland railways. Amongst these were the ex-LBSC E1s, A1x "Terriers" and ex-LSW O2s that were to serve the Island so well. Plans were also made to introduce ex-LBSC E4s but after a trial with one in 1947 it was decided they were unsuitable so the plan was abandoned.
Coach set 497 leaving Shanklin for Ryde behind an unidentified 02.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Nationalisation in 1948 saw little immediate change but the post-war move towards holidays abroad and the spread of car ownership had their effect on the Island's railways as much as elsewhere and in 1952 the line from Merstone to Ventnor was closed, leaving the original IWR route to Ventnor in sole occupation of the town. The following year some stations, the Bembridge branch and the FY&NR line closed, followed in 1956 by the Merstone-Sandown line. During the early 1960s it was decided to replace the remaining Island locos, by now all O2s, with modern locos, but - which ones would be suitable? A Standard 2MT 2-6-2 was modified but before it could be tried out on the Island the plan to close much of the remaining mileage, and end steam operation in favour of electric, put paid to the idea and in 1966 the Ryde to Cowes and Shanklin to Ventnor lines closed so that now just the stretch of line from Ryde to Shanklin survives, albeit with the importation of ex-LT Underground stock to work the now electrified line. Some 30 years after closure there were proposals to re-open the line from Shanklin to Wroxall and Ventnor, but these plans seem unlikely to come to fruition.
Pier O2 Nº W14 Fishbourne between Ryde St John's Road and Smallbrook Junction.

This section of the line was operated as double track during the busy summer period and as two single lines (one for Sandown, one for Newport) for the remainder of the year. This is summer and the Fixed Distant arm on the right has been removed for the duration of double track working.

photograph by Keith Harwood

All the maintenance of the Island’s rolling stock was carried out on the Island. The main works were at Ryde, although there were also good facilities at Newport.

Here O2 NºW20 Shanklin is receiving attention outside Ryde works.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Ryde works
There were four tunnels in all, Mill Hill tunnel of 208 yards just to the north of Mill Hill station, Ryde Tunnel of 391 yards immediately to the south of Ryde Esplanade station, St Lawrence Tunnel of 619 yards mid-way between Whitwell and St Lawrence stations and Ventnor Tunnel, at 1,312 yards the biggest engineering project on the Island's railways, under St Boniface Down immediately north of Ventnor station.
Pier 02 NºW32 Bonchurch approaches Shanklin on a Ryde to Ventnor service in 1963. Bonchurch was the last of the Island's locos to carry a green livery - she was repainted black whilst in Ryde shops for overhaul during June 1953.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Train services were never speedy, the 12½ miles from Ryde to Ventnor took some 37-45 mins, and fares were high with third class tickets not introduced until 1914 and infrequent services in the early years. The Southern Railway improved the frequency of trains, but not the journey times!

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This page was last updated 25 April 2005

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