Published 16th October 2012
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway (IOWSR) has created a new station at Wootton, their western terminus after a fundraising campaign lasting several years. This raised £37,000 allowing the station platform to be lengthened and the track extended to allow the larger Ivatt locomotives to operate on the line. The project would not have been possible without a Leader Grant of £35,000 made towards the project.
Ever since the line ran to Wootton, the facilities included a short platform and a (PMV) an old parcels carriage body, which acted as a waiting room. This was in poor condition and after reclaiming re-usable fittings, the body was dismantled on site.
Works started a year ago and were completed recently using advertisements from 1912 to complete the century-old look. The new station buildings recreate the look of the Isle of Wight Central Railway and are based on plans of Havenstreet station, the IOWSR’s HQ. The work involved moving the signalbox onto a concrete base, construction of brand new station buildings offering toilets and a waiting room for passengers.
The station is now a realistic example of an Edwardian Country terminus station and has become a destination in its own right. It has a car park and picnic area and located just a couple of miles from the Fishbourne car ferry terminal.
At the other end of the line, Smallbrook Junction, passengers now also have a waiting room built and recently completed. A booking office is also provided there for the first time for passengers arriving on the 1938 Island Line London Underground trains without a ticket.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £970,000 in June 2012 which with another £250,000 funding, will provide covered accommodation and a workshop to protect the railways vintage carriage fleet at Havenstreet station. £75,000 of the matched funding will be provided via the use of volunteer labour and the rest, by actual finance.
Once the Wootton station project was largely complete, ground-breaking work commenced on the Havenstreet based project in late September in a railway owned field known as Griffins, adjacent to Havenstreet station. A team of 40 volunteers and staff have worked on this project for several years and the railway’s record of delivery and excellence helped to get the funding.
The actual building will contain four lines each long enough to accommodate four bogie carriages with a wide walkway between the pairs of tracks. The main part of the building will not be heated, but naturally ventilated allowing the wooden carriage bodies to dry out naturally after use on the railway.
The facility will be fully wheelchair accessible and linked by a walkway from the existing carriage workshop and provide exhibition space to explain the history of the carriages. Most of the railways wooden bodied carriage fleet will now be able to be conserved and protected under cover between use on the railway.
The building should be ready by the end of 2013 and by then, the railway’s next project could be under way so long as sufficient funding has been arranged.
The half mile long Ryde Pier used to boast a narrow gauge tram system carrying thousands of people a day in the holiday season. The service ceased operation in 1969 and one tramcar exists, although in poor condition at Havenstreet. The IWSR is launching a £50,000 appeal to restore this to use to further illustrate the transport history of the Island. It was the first bit of transport experienced on the Island for tens of thousands of visitors after disembarking from steamers and fondly remembered by many older people today!
If and when successful, the tram will run on its own stretch of track alongside the new carriage facility being built adding yet another attraction for visitors.