Posts Tagged ‘Adams tank’

Isle of Wight Steam Gala

October 24, 2013

Like many a preserved railway line, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is quite short at about 5 miles. I could be cynical and say that the financial powers that be at these railways don’t like a long train journey for passengers sitting on a train and enjoying the experience are not spending more money. But I don’t think this railway thinks like that at all. I suspect they’d love to have access to more line but at least we can be thankful that they have the five miles of delightful, scenic railway.

For much of the operating year, the service can be operated with just one engine in steam but in the peak season, two are needed to run the service.

What made the September 2013 steam gala really special was that four engines were in steam, sharing out the duties of operating two passenger sets and a demonstration freight train.

It reminded me of the island’s railways back in the early 1960s when elderly steam engines with near antique coaches were trundling down the main line from Ryde every few minutes, each one crowded with trippers off the ferry from Portsmouth.

One of the things that made me determined to be at this steam gala was that one of the engines in use was to be the only survivor of the class of engines which used to run that intensive service 50 or more years ago. Not only that, it had a train of carriages that were also used back in those long ago days.

So we’ll start with that engine and train.

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There’s a part of one carriage. It is all separate compartments. There is no corridor. Do you know, I feel old when I think I frequently used to travel on trains like that. By the way, the carriage is in just the shade of green I think all carriages should have. Two things are different from ‘the old days’. By the time I was a train user, 3rd class had been abolished. The carriages didn’t change but they were called 2nd class.  The other difference is that volunteer enthusiasts make the trains clean. They would, no doubt, have been much grubbier back in the 60s.

This carriage had a board inside that it wouldn’t have had 50 years ago, given a brief history of the coach.

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There’s the engine, attached to the train. She, like all the locos on the island, is named after an island place.

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The Isle of Wight Steam Railway seemed happy to let us old nerds ‘cab’ the engine. These old engines, which date from the nineteenth century, are very simple machines.

At Smallbrook, the line meets up with the main line from Ryde down to Shanklin. Our steamer has to run round the train for the return journey. Handily, it did it just as an ‘Island Line’ train was arriving at its platform.

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The Island Line is electrified but it still uses historic stock. That’s a 1938ex London Underground train.

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As Calbourne runs around we can enjoy the sight and sound of the engine. Fantastic!

We’ll return to this Gala again some time.