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Recreating railway holiday camping accommodation and transport on the Isle of Wight

Published: 23rd September 2016

Victorian camping carriage project completed and Ryde Pier Tramcar recreation project well underway

The half-mile long pier at Ryde is really three piers built adjacent to each other. Two of them are in use today, the west one for road traffic and the east one for rail traffic. The disused centre pier was used for a tram shuttle until 1969.

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s (IOWSR) has the remnants of the tram and has been fundraising to recreate it. Its standard gauge Ryde Pier Tramcar No. 2 is now well on the way to being rebuilt and although is in many parts many miles apart, it is taking physical form with progress being shown to the public at the September 17 Open Day held at the works of Alan Keef Ltd near Ross-on-Wye. The display included a new frame for the tramcar constructed by Lowther & Son and a Perkins diesel engine.

Dereliction to revival

Tramcar and trailer pairings operated on Isle of Wight’s Ryde Pier between 1937-1969 and in 2012, the IOWSR board agreed the surviving, but decaying, tramcar No. 4 to should be restored for operation on the heritage line which operates on over five miles between Smallbrook Junction and Wootton via Havenstreet. It was also agreed a replica trailer could be constructed. With limited workshop space at Havenstreet and a full programme of maintaining the line’s operational equipment and long-term restoration projects, the decision was made to contract restoration to mainland contactors. The project is being supported by a small volunteer team, overseen by IoWSR’s Engineering Manager.

The corroded chassis was dispatched to Alan Keef Ltd to be stripped of re-usable components. These include much of the brake gear, truss rods, engine sub-frame, axle boxes and bearings.

The new frame has been delivered to Keef’s New wheelsets (for both the tramcar and trailer) have been ordered together with other components. A replacement engine and fittings have been supplied by Perkins Engines of Peterborough. Alan Keef Ltd will refurbish the recovered components and assemble a running chassis for the tramcar.

This will incorporate modifications to the original design to produce a slight increase in ride height (to conform to modern standard platform dimensions), new wheel profiles and the ability to drive both axles to achieve better adhesion when tramcar and trailer are operated as a unit.

A replica body matching the original 1927 design is to be produced and final details are still being completed and where the body will be produced has yet to be announced. The replicated body will incorporate original fittings such as locks, handles, some doors, droplights etc and the project team even has the original pull-down sunshade for the driver!

Trailer to accompany tram

Tramcar No. 2 will be completed as soon as practicable, incorporating a temporary second driving position on the rear veranda enabling its use as a single railcar.

The body for the replica trailer will be a modified version of the original 1938 design, with wide access doors and capable of accommodating wheelchairs. A driving position in the vestibule will be incorporated on the lines of a 1930s proposal, which was never implemented but discovered by the restoration team.

Although work has started on producing a chassis for the trailer and wheelsets were ordered with those for the tramcar to achieve economy of scale, further funding is needed to complete the trailer.

To donate towards the project, cheques payable to Isle of Wight Steam Railway Co Ltd should be sent to: Ryde Pier Tram Fund, I.W. Steam Railway, The Railway Station, Havenstreet, Isle of Wight, PO33 4DS.

Camping carriage unveiled to the public at Havenstreet

When carriages were deemed obsolete for main line rail use, many were taken to a holiday location where they often had their wheels removed and the carriage body was grounded to be used as holiday accommodation. These were common until the 1970s and a few are still in use today and the IOWSR has recovered one such 1884 built carriage and restored it to exhibition level at Havenstreet.

The carriage was brought to the IOW in 1930 and withdrawn from service in 1936 to be purchased by a local family for use as a holiday chalet. After the war a verandah and outbuildings added. The whole lot was donated by owners Mr & Mrs Lamacq to the IOWSR in 2013 after 77 years use by the family as a holiday facility. The IOWSR has restored the carriage to how it looked in the 1950s and is located outside ‘Train Story’, the railway’s million-pound visitor centre. Amazingly, there are another 50 or so similar carriages on the IOW.

When visiting Havenstreet, don’t miss this carriage, it is a unique piece of British holiday history superbly displayed with 1950s aretfacts.

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