Isle of Wight Railway rolls out its ‘Grand Plan’
Having enjoyed an “exceptionally good” year in 2016, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is to put itself on a strong footing for the future, with dramatic improvements to both the public and engineering facilities at Havenstreet. A new visitor entrance, and an upgraded workshop, are two proposals first put forward in the railway’s ‘Strategic Vision’ of 2009, which will now go ahead in what IoWSR General Manager Peter Vail describes as a ‘Grand Plan’ for the line’s headquarters. The new entrance building will incorporate a booking hall, toilets and a shop, as well as the railway’s administrative offices - thereby replacing the temporary building that currently houses the latter. On the footprint of this structure, it is planned to create an exhibition, display and educational facility, while other plans include an enhanced catering facility and permanent covered space for events, to reduce the use of marquees. A new one or two-road heavy engineering facility, incorporating public access (possibly by way of a viewing gallery) is planned for the area known as Griffin’s Field adjacent to Train Story, the £1.2 million rolling stock storage facility. The existing locomotive works will then become a running shed. In addition, the railway aims to create a purpose-built museum to complement Train Story, displaying items that are currently in storage. Sources of grant funding are being explored for the expected total cost of up to £5m, while a sum “in the region of £400,000” is available to divide between the new engineering building and the planned restoration of LBSCR ‘E1’ 0-6-0T No. W2 Yarmouth. Similarly, a shortage of rolling stock - with three of its SECR bogie coaches out of action for repairs to corroded underframes - has prompted the employment of a full-time fitter and an apprentice in the Carriage & Wagon shops. Said Peter: “The business is growing all the time - we’ve had an exceptionally good year, with income up 14% on 2015, which was itself a record year - and we’ve got to gear the locomotives and stock towards that.”
Wearing ‘The Tourist’ headboard (a semi-fast through train from Ventnor to Freshwater introduced in 1933) ‘O2’ No. W24 Calbourne passes through Havenstreet station non-stop with the 12.59 Smallbrook Junction-Wootton train on August 27 2013.