Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Infobox rail line
name = Isle of Wight Steam Railway
color =

logo_width = 150px


image_width =
caption =
type = Heritage railway
system =
status =
locale = Isle of Wight
start = Smallbrook Junction
end = Wootton
stations =
routes =
ridership =
open = 1971
close =
owner = Isle of Wight Railway Co. Ltd.
operator = Isle of Wight Railway Co. Ltd.
character =
depot = Havenstreet depot
stock =
linelength = 5½ miles
tracklength =
notrack =
gauge = Standard gauge
el =
speed =
elevation =


map_state = collapsed
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is a heritage railway on the Isle of Wight. The railway passes through 5½ miles of unspoiled countryside from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton station, passing through the small village of Havenstreet, where the line has a station, headquarters and a depot. At Smallbrook Junction, the steam railway connects with the Island Line.

Operation

The railway is owned and operated by the Isle of Wight Railway Co. Ltd. and run largely by volunteers. Services are operated on most days from June to September, together with Sundays in April, May, and October and public holidays. The railway is very popular with tourists attracting people to its original steam locomotive and railway cafe. Over each August bank holiday weekend, the railway organises the Island Steam Show, which combines an intensive service on the railway with displays of various sorts of steam power including traction engines and steam fair equipment, together with other attractions that vary year by year.

Locomotives

As the name suggests, services are hauled by steam locomotives, with most of the fleet having spent much of their working life on the island's railways. The principal locomotives in use are:

*Calbourne, O2 class 0-4-4T number W24, built in 1891 for the London and South Western Railway and transferred to the island in 1925.
*Freshwater, A1 ("Terrier") class number W8, built in 1876 for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and transferred to the island in 1913.
*Newport, A1 ("Terrier") class number W11, built in 1878 for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and transferred to the island in 1902.

These locomotives are supported by a handful of more recent steam and diesel locomotives.

Rolling stock

The locomotives are complemented by two distinct fleets of carriages. One fleet consists of bogie carriages built between 1911 and 1924, representing the final generation of steam hauled stock used on the island. The other fleet consists of four-wheel carriages built between 1864 and 1898 representing the previous generation; most of these have been rebuilt from bodies previously sold off for use as holiday homes or storage sheds. The two fleets are not normally mixed in the same train.

History

The first railway on the Isle of Wight opened in 1862, linking Newport and Cowes. It became the nucleus of the Isle of Wight Central Railway. The line from Ryde to Newport was opened in 1875 and by 1890 the island was served by an extensive network of lines. However most of these lines were relatively poorly traffucked, reflecting the general isolation and poverty of the island. These factors meant that the island's railways could rarely afford to acquire new locomotives or rolling stock and instead relied on using already elderly equipment transferred from the mainland. Much of the equipment currently used on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway falls into this category, representing usage on the island in the early twentieth century but also the mid to late nineteenth century on the mainland.

The first railway closures on the Island were in 1952. Then in 1966 the Ryde - Newport - Cowes and Shanklin - Ventnor lines were closed. The last steam services on the island ran on the remaining Ryde to Shanklin line on 31 December 1966. However a small group of rail enthusiasts formed the Wight Locomotive Society and raised funds to preserve one of the last steam locomotives, W24 "Calbourne", and a number of the remaining carriages. Then, in 1971, the Isle of Wight Railway Co Ltd was formed to buy the 1½-mile length of track between Wootton and Havenstreet. From that early beginning, the railway has been gradually extended from Havenstreet towards Ryde. In 1991 this extension reached Smallbrook Junction on the Ryde - Shanklin line, where a new interchange station was built there allowing passengers to interchange with Island Line trains.

An extension of the line westwards from Wootton to Newport has been suggested in the past. It now seems unlikely as there is now a road on the site of Newport station and houses have been built on another part of the former line. Another possible extension is one from Smallbrook Junction to Ryde St John's Road station, using one of the two Island Line tracks on this stretch.

Gallery

ee also

*List of British heritage and private railways

References

*Historical information from [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A304237 BBC website] , retrieved 24 August 2004

External links

* [http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk/ Isle of Wight Steam Railway]
* [http://www.wight-cam.co.uk/WightCAM/HTML/IslandAttractions/IW-SteamRailway.htm Isle of Wight Steam Railway photographs] , WightCAM - photographically illustrated walks on the Isle of Wight.


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