Isle of Wight Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the historical railway company. For the modern company of the same name, see Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
Isle of Wight Railway
IWRmonogram thumb.jpg
Isle of Wight Railway mongram
1860 Act of Incorporation
1864 First train ran
Successor organisation
1923 "Grouping" into Southern Railway
Key locations
Headquarters Sandown station
Workshops Ryde Works
Major stations Ryde St John's Road
Route mileage
1864 7.25 miles (11.7 km)
1866 11.25 miles (18.1 km)
1880* 12.5 miles (20.1 km)
1882* 15.25 miles (24.5 km)
Mileage shown as at end of year stated.
* - From 1880, includes LSWR/LBSCR joint Ryde line.
IWR Stations & lines shown dark red
Ryde Pier Head
Ryde Pier
Mill Hill (Cowes)
Ryde Esplanade
Calbourne & Shalfleet
Ryde Pier Tramway
Medina Wharf
Ryde St John's Road
Ryde Works
Cement Mills Halt
Bembridge (1882–1953)
St Helens (1882–1953)
Smallbrook Junction
Ashey Quarry
(station opened 1991)
Ashey Racecourse
FYNR trains reverse
Site of Newport
FY&NR station
River Medina
Lake (opened 1987)
Wroxall (1866–1966)
St Lawrence
Ventnor (1866–1966)
Ventnor West

The Isle of Wight Railway was a railway company on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. It operated 14 miles of railway line between Ryde and Ventnor. It opened the first portion of line, between Sandown and St Johns Road station in Ryde, in 1864 and was merged into the Southern Railway in 1923. The section between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin currently remains open.


The Isle of Wight Railway Company (IWR) was incorporated by an Act of Parliament on 23 July 1860,[note 1] with authorised capital of £125,000 and borrowings of £41,600, to construct a line from St Johns Road station in Ryde to Ventnor.[1][2] The line opened from Ryde to Sandown on 23 August 1864, the second railway company to begin operations on the island.[3]

The section from Sandown to Ventnor was delayed due to objection from the landowner, the Earl of Yarborough, who forced a diversion through Boniface Down Tunnel; the extension to Ventnor opened on 10 September 1866.[4][1][2]

An additional branch line from Brading to Bembridge was opened on 27 May 1882.[5] This branch followed the River Yar as far as the village of St Helens. From here it went along the harbour causeway to its final stop in Bembridge. Because of lack of space at the station at Bembridge a small turntable was used as a sector plate instead of points to allow locomotives to get access to the run-round loop.[6] A similar system was used briefly at Shanklin when it was the terminus, and then for many years at Ventnor after the main line was extended.

When complete, the IWR's network had a total length of 14.0 miles (22.5 km) south of Ryde (St John's) station.


In 1875, the IWCR opened lines from Smallbrook Junction and Sandown towards Newport, which provided connections with the IWR's services.[3]

In a route engineered by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR)'s Chief Engineer Frederick Banister, an additional 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of line from the IWR's northern terminus at St John's Road to Ryde Esplanade had opened in April 1880, with the final 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from there to Ryde Pier Head following in July. This section through Ryde and along Ryde Pier was built and owned jointly by the LB&SCR and the London and South Western Railway.[3] Trains along the line were operated for them by the IWR and IWCR.

In 1884, the Isle of Wight Marine Transit Company started a rail freight ferry link between the Bembridge branch line at St Helens quay and the Hayling Island Branch line at Langstone. To provide this link the rail ferry PS Carrier was moved from Scotland. The project was unsuccessful and the service ended in 1888, despite having been acquired by the LB&SCR in 1886.[7]


This was the most successful railway company on the Isle of Wight, with heavy summer passenger traffic from the mainland. Special express trains were run from Ryde to Ventnor in order to transport arriving patients of the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest. The railway also carried significant freight traffic, particularly to the large harbour at Bembridge and coal merchants in the caves at Ventnor.

Rolling stock[edit]

The Isle of Wight Railway ordered a fleet of standardized tank engines from Beyer Peacock,[8] of which none now remain. For the railway opening in 1864 the railway ordered 24 passenger carriages, four of which had brake compartments, and 30 open wagons from the 'Oldbury Carriage and Wagon company'. In 1865 the railway ordered 10 more wagons and bought two carriages from the Ryde Pier Company. In 1872 a luggage van was also added to the stock, being numbered 27. In 1873 five thirds were ordered. This being followed by three seconds in 1875 and another luggage van in 1876. In 1882 two composites and four seconds were ordered, the last 'new' carriages bought for the railway. In 1885 three carriages were bought from Oldbury which were originally built for the Golden Valley Railway in 1881 but returned due to the lack of money. These were two saloons one first the other second and the third a brake van. Between 1897 and 1898 the IWR purchased 10 North London Railway carriages. Six were first and four second. The firsts entered service as a first (which was later downgraded to a composite), a composite and four seconds. Of the NLR carriages bought as seconds three became thirds while the fourth and two Oldbury carriages were rebuilt at Ryde to passenger luggage vans. The carriages now numbered 55 but a number of the 1864-76 built Oldbury carriages and the Ex Golden Valley brake van were withdrawn in 1914 with the introduction of 18 Ex Metropolitan Railway carriages. Two more were withdrawn in 1920 with the remaining 49 lasting to grouping in 1923. There were 221 goods vehicles lasting to grouping in 1923.

From Grouping in 1923 until electrification of the remaining line in 1967, trains on the island's rail network were operated by the former Southern Railway's fleet of steam locomotives and antique carriages, many of which survive at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Most of these locomotives came from mainland railway companies, especially the London & South Western Railway and London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

Only one of the Isle of Wight Railway's carriages is in use on the island as of March 2009. Ex-North London Railway No. 46 was built as a 4-compartment first class carriage around 1864. It was purchased by the IWR in December 1897 although it did not arrive until the following year. One compartment was downgraded to third class for its IWR service.[9] The 4-wheel, second-hand and composite nature of the vehicle was typical of the coaches used by the railway.

Diagram of all railways on the island, showing closed and reopened lines and new stations.

Double track[edit]

Double track originally went from Ryde Pier Head to Ryde St. Johns, with a summer time extension to Smallbrook Junction.

Merge into Southern Railway[edit]

Under the Railways Act 1921 the new Southern Railway took over all railways on the Isle of Wight. The IWR became part of the Southern on 1 January 1923. During the 20th century the main line was increased to double track between Brading and Sandown.[10] Despite the Island's popularity as a holiday resort after World War II, British Railways closed the Bembridge branch in the 1950s and the Shanklin - Ventnor part of the IWR main line in 1966.

The line from Ryde to Shanklin was electrified in 1967. In 1987 a new station was opened at Lake. It is between Sandown and Shanklin, on the site of a halt that existed earlier in the 20th century. In 1991 another new station was opened at Smallbrook Junction. It provides a connection with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, a heritage line operating part of the former IWCR between Smallbrook Junction and Wootton.

Passenger services on the surviving part of the IWR is now operated by Island Line Trains. There are no regular freight trains on the line.

Closed stations[edit]

A 1914 Railway Clearing House map of lines around The Isle of Wight, showing Isle of Wight Railway owned lines.

The following former-Isle of Wight Railway stations are no longer in use:

For a list of all closed stations on the island, see Category:Disused railway stations on the Isle of Wight.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Awdry says that the Company name was originally Isle of Wight (Eastern Section) Railway, changed to Isle of Wight Railway by Act of Parliament of 28 July 1863.


  1. ^ a b E F Carter, An Historical Geography of the Railways of the British Isles, Cassell, London, 1959
  2. ^ a b Bradshaw's Railway Manual Shareholders' Guide and Directory. (1869). p.148
  3. ^ a b c Hardy, Brian (2003). Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport. p. 6. ISBN 1-85414-276-3. 
  4. ^ Awdry, Christopher (1990). Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Limited. p. 188. ISBN 1 85260 049 7. 
  5. ^ Awdry 1990, p. 179
  6. ^ Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith, Isle of Wight Lines: 50 Years of Change, Middleton Press, Midhurst, 1998, ISBN 1 901706 12 5
  7. ^ Jordan, S (1998). Ferry Services of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway. Usk: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-521-7. 
  8. ^ Allen, PC; MacLeod, AB (1986). Rails in the Isle of Wight (2 ed.). Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 82. ISBN 0-7153-8701-4. 
  9. ^ "Isle of Wight Steam Railway - 4 wheeled carriages". Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  10. ^ Hardy, Brian (2003). Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport. p. 9. ISBN 1-85414-276-3. 

External links[edit]