Isle of Wight
A 50 Year Then and Now special
Isle of Wight operated steam locomotives until the end of December 1966.
The rather elderly O2 class tank engines were used. Indeed one, W14
"Fishbourne" was the oldest operating steam engine on British
Railways at the time.
visited the Isle of Wight on a rather dismal November day in 1966. I
went with my father and two school pals.
50 years later (49 years 11 months to the day!), I revisited the island to see and travel on the electric
train service to Shanklin as well as the wonderful Isle of Wight
Steam Railway. (Visit dates were 26 November 1966 and 26
of the stars on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is the sole
surviving O2 tank engine no. W24 'Calbourne' seen above in 1966
and resplendent in 2016.
There are two surviving sections
of railway on the island, the steam railway from Smallbrook
Junction to Wootton (on the line to Newport) and the Island Line
from Ryde to Shanklin.
The latter line runs with former
London Transport electric trains as part of South West Train's
franchise. However there is discussion on the future of the line
when the franchise expires in the near future.
The original electric trains were
modern compared with the aging steam engines and coaches - but not
exactly the state of the art.
Former London Transport tube
stock dating from 1923 was initially supplied in 1967 and these
lasted until 1991. Most were scrapped but I understand one set of
coaches is part of the London
Transport Museum collection and are stored in the Action Depot
in West London.
Their replacement were coaches
from the LT 1938 stock and these still run today. There are six,
two coach sets, all of which are operational except for one set
which is stored for spare parts.
During the autumn of 1966, work
had already started on the electrification work. This meant there
was no train service from Ryde Pier Head although the Ryde Pier
Tramway still operated. The tramway closed in 1969.
the second running line, to the right (below), was no longer in
use and the platform had lost it's canopy and is rather overgrown.
Essentially, the line from here to the pier head was one long
Double track working started just
south of the station at the start of Ryde Tunnel.
The pictures above show an
unidentified O2 tank at Ryde Esplanade station. This was taken
from the tramway platform, something not possible today, hence the
2016 shot taken from the platform.
Johns Road Station
This station is still the heart
of the Isle of Wight railway system with the main engineering
works based here.
The two pictures on the right
show how things have changed over 50 years - or not. The signal
box is still used and there are even semaphore signals around the
station. The signal box looks smarter with new steps and
replacement windows but still recognisable from the 1966 shot
(which features O2 tank no. W16 'Ventnor').
the railways of the Isle of Wight had merged as part of the
formation of the Southern Railway, the locomotive servicing
and repair facilities were based at Ryde St Johnís
On the east side are the
main engineering workshops.
The buildings look
unchanged (on the outside) but deal with the current
electric stock rather than steam engines.
The older building is Grade
2 listed by English Heritage.
On the west side of the station
was a two road engine shed. This survived until the end of steam
in 1966 and the site is now a car park.
These two pictures show how the
site has changed. As a point of reference, the building behind the
white van on the left would appear to be the same as the one to
the left of the yard lamp (above the truck).
written reply to my father's letter to the shed manager requesting
there was only a month left of steam operation, the shed was still
a bustling place. The shed building itself was quite long and
could house 8 tank engines on it's two lines.
The pictures below show W24 seen
from the cab window of W33 inside the shed. The 2016 picture was
taken from the cab of W24 at Haven Street station on the Isle of
Wight Steam Railway.
With thanks to the crew of
'Calbourne' for letting me on the cab to take the picture on my
visit on 26th October 2016.
The site of the Ryde MPD. The
shed would have stood behind the South West Trains van, where the
two lines of cars are whilst the coaling stage would have been
where the white buildings are on the right.
The northbound station buildings
are on the left.
Three of the electric trains line
up at St Johns Road station (this happened quite by chance) during
my 2016 visit whilst in 1966 W24 and W33 stand side by side inside
50 years apart (almost). The
pristine W24 'Calbourne' at Smallbrook Junction is 2016 and a work
stained W27 'Merstone' at Ryde Esplanade in 1966.
from visiting the sheds at Rude St Johns Road, we traveled on the
steam train to Shanklin where my father took a group shot in Keats
Gardens, overlooking the sea.
From left to right, Steve Peters,
Dave Tuggy and myself. Steve passed away in 1986 and I lost touch
with Dave back in the 1970's.
The 2016 picture is at the same
location but I'm not sure the bench is original although the
design is very similar.
27 October 2016
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