Isle of Wight
The railways of the Isle of Wight had their own unique style, almost as unique as those of the Isle of Man, despite being standard gauge and part of British Railways. Even today, travelling on the island’s railways feels like you’ve gone back in time by 50 years or so. The key railway features are well known – the pier, Ryde St John’s Road works, the tiny turntable at Bembridge and Ventnor station’s tunnel mouth. I also suspect that few will be unaware of how the railway threads its way through the town of Ryde. Ryde St John’s Road works is on the southern edge of the town. Heading north, trains gently snake past the bus garage (curved to follow the line of the railway) before disappearing into Ryde tunnel and emerging just shy of Ryde Esplanade station. The line curves sharply right and the final half-mile to Pier Head station is above the sea. This arrangement has inspired the following concept. There is no track plan. I’ve decided to offer a baseboard schematic and a photographic study of the pier for constructional purposes. The dropped baseboard sections enable the dramatic pier structure to be modelled. The layout is designed to occupy a space of 16ft by 6ft (possibly in an 18ft by 8ft garage). For an exhibition, the layout could be designed to fit in a minimum space of 24ft by 10ft. Wherever possible, boards are matched into pairs for ease of transport and, with a few exceptions, all are 4ft long or less. Focusing on the railway element alone, I’ve chosen to omit the tramway and public piers. Those with more space may wish to add either – or both.
Right: Turning the other way from Ryde Esplanade, the line descends into Ryde tunnel. The trackbed was raised when the line was electrified, which sets considerable limits on the choice of replacement rolling stock. Above: ‘O2’ No. W36 Carisbrooke awaits departure from Ryde Pier Head station on July 3 1960. The track in the foreground belongs to the tramway, now disused, as is the second railway track along the pier.