* Prices may differ from that shown
Buch of jobs-worths, absolutely packed, way over priced, rubbish merchandise and a wasp infestation!!
They sell way too many tickets for the seats they have available, you end up waiting hours for free seats and when they promise to give a refund when you request one they don't because you happened to pay by vouchers. Absolute nonsense. I create electronic POS systems for a living, everything is reversable!
They also have a massive wasp infestation, there are wasps everywhere!... In the queues when waiting ages for trains, in the train carriages and all over the cafe especially in the salad cart (avoid the salad!). There are wasps everywhere!!! With the extortionate prices you would have thought they should have sorted it out.
Also bought a toy (costly at that) for my son from the onsite shop only to find it fell too pieces when I got back home!!! Argh!!
This was supposed to be a nice day out but turned out to be miserable and stressful. Please Avoid!!!
I was excited about my trip to the Isle of Wight and spent some time looking at things I could do there. I am interested in history and heritage and liked the sound of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. I do like steam trains and thought it would be fun to travel on one - the last time I did this was as a child on holiday.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is what remains of the original railway on the Isle of Wight: the rest of it either no longer runs or, in the case of the Island Line which runs down the east coast, has been electrified. The steam railway runs from Smallbrook Junction in the east (where it meets the Island Line) to Wootton Station in the west, passing through the village of Havenstreet. Along the way it passes through 5½ miles of countryside.
*A Brief History*
The first railway on the Isle of Wight opened in 1862, over 150 years ago. By 1890 an extensive network of railways served the island, but from the fifties the lines were gradually closed. The Isle of Wight Railway Co. Ltd was formed in 1971 to buy the stretch of track between Wootton and Havenstreet, later extending to Smallbrook Junction enabling an interchange with the Island Line.
From the earliest days of the railway, it was rarely possible to afford the newest trains and therefore the equipment used on the line was already old by the time it reached the Isle of Wight. Therefore, many of the steam trains used today were used on the island in the early twentieth century, but actually date from the mid to late nineteenth century. The oldest train dates from 1876 and some of the carriages date back to 1864.
I bought a day ticket which combined unlimited travel for both the Island Line and the Steam Railway, costing me £14. I spent part of the day before and after my steam journey using the Island Line and exploring the towns along the line, taking a break in the middle to explore the Steam Railway.
I used the timetable to plan my day: this is really important as some of the times appear slightly random, and if you want to match up steam train times with Island Line times you will need to inspect the timetable closely. I managed to work out the best time to arrive at Smallbrook Junction and transferred across to the other platform, which was easily visible as I exited the electric train. I had to display my ticket to get on the platform. Though it was a bright, warm day in August, there weren't many people there - only three or four on the platform with me - and all day the railway didn't strike me as particularly busy.
The train soon arrived, steam pumping out of the chimney, and the carriages waited on the track while the engine rumbled along to the other end of the train. I climbed into a carriage by myself; I'd paid for a third class ticket, but the carriage seemed luxurious enough to me! It was very comfortably padded with wooden panelling and shelves and old-fashioned advertising. The carriage was clean and a lot of care had clearly gone into restoring it.
I was able to open a window slightly, which let in a lovely breeze when the train began to move (might be slightly less pleasant in the rain!). I l really enjoy train travel anyway but there's something about steam trains that is especially nice. I loved looking out the window and seeing the woods and the countryside rush past.
After about twenty minutes, the train reached Havenstreet station. Havenstreet is the central point of the Steam Railway and there is plenty to keep you occupied here, including a woodland walk, children's play area and even a falconry experience (although this does cost extra). I spent about an hour and a half here: I had a look at some of the engines on display and browsed the small museum. The museum was dark and slightly shabby, but there was some interesting information about the history of the railway as well as photographs and artefacts. I also had a look around the shop: there were many model trains and toys, and other souvenirs of the kind you get in all touristy places: pens, keyrings, fridge magnets etc.
I had lunch in the station café. It wasn't the most amazing café in the world but it was pleasant enough, clean with decent food. There were quite a few families there, with children happily enjoying the play area.
I got on the train again when it turned up, travelling all the way to the end of the line at Wootton and back again to Smallbrook Junction, which took about forty minutes, I think.
I enjoyed my time on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, although it was rather a shame I was by myself and I think it is best suited for families. I am sure families would enjoy it, although it is a little pricey unless you go for one of the deals. Personally, I feel that the price I paid for both Steam Railway and Island Line travel - £14 - was very reasonable.
Full disabled access is available at Havenstreet Station, and most trains have an adapted carriage in use for wheelchair users. It is best to contact the Railway for further details.
Toilets: Havenstreet, Wootton and Smallbrook stations have toilet facilities.
Food: There is a café at Havenstreet, and there are pleasant picnic areas at Havenstreet and Wootton.
History: There is a museum, displaying artefacts from the Isle of Wight's railway history, and a Carriage and Wagon Workshop, home to heritage stock undergoing restoration, at Havenstreet Station.
Shopping: There is a gift shop and a small second hand book shop at Havenstreet.
Outdoor entertainment: A children's play area and rambling Woodland Walk can be found at Havenstreet. There is also a falconry centre, offering hands-on experience with falconry, though there is an extra charge for this.
*Special Days Out*
Special days are organised throughout the year, including 'A Day Out with Thomas' and 'Santa Specials' for children, wine and real ale festivals for adults, and historic theme days out. I also noticed that on 1 January this year there was a 'hangover special' trip! Prices for the days out may vary from those quoted below.
By car - There are free car parks at Havenstreet and Wootton stations.
By train - The Island Line stops at Smallbrook so you can change onto the Steam Railway from here.
By bus - Services 29 and 33 (Wightbus) stop at Havenstreet Station and Service 9 (Southern Vectis) stops at Wootton.
The railway operates daily from June to October, frequently in March, April and May, and on several days in October, November and December. Full details and timetables can be found on the website.
Includes an entire day's travel
Child (5-15 years) £5 (Kids go free in August)
Infant (0-4 years) free (maximum of two infants per fare paying adult)
Family (2 adults and 2 children) £24
These prices are for third class travel; first class tickets are available but are more expensive.
Access to Havenstreet station without travelling is £3.
A ticket combining travel on the Steam Railway with travel on the Island Line is £14 for adults and £7 for children.
Isle of Wight Steam Day Rovers can be purchased from most staffed railway stations in London and the South East. They cover: return rail travel to Portsmouth Harbour, catamaran return travel to Ryde, a day's travel on the Island Line and a day's travel on the Steam Railway. They cost:
The Railway Station
Isle of Wight
Tel: 01983 882204
Fax: 01983 884515
Talking Timetable Service: 01983 884343
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is located in Havenstreet not too far (approximately 3 miles) from Ryde or Newport. Although there are 3 train stations that the train stops at, you can only pay and gain access to the Steam Train at this station.
The train stations are:
The train doesn't currently stop at Ashey, I am unsure why.
We followed the signs from Ryde towards the Steam Train and Havenstreet, you go out in the countryside and down some rather small lanes, but the Train Station is on the left hand side as is the car park. The car park isn't massive but it was rather quiet when we visited thanks to it being October and mid week. Parking is free.
At the entrance booth you are asked whether you want first class or third class tickets. God only knows what happened to second class?
First Class / Third Class
Adult - £13.00 / £9.00
Child (5-15 years) - £8.50 / £4.50
Infant (0-4 years) - FREE / FREE
Family Fare - £38.50 / £22.50
Dogs - £3.00 / £3.00
Amazingly the above prices for 2009 were held at 2008 prices. I find this worrying at these prices anyway.
Like I said Havenstreet is the main station and has the following facilities and amenities:
Station Buffet (cafe)
Station Museum of Island Railway History
Childrens Play Area
Although with the above you would assume the site to be of reasonable size, especially seeing the prices, but it is surprisingly small and there really isn't a lot there. The biggest thing is probably the cafe.
I thought the pricing was rather expensive, after all an all day travel card from where I live outside Zone 6 in to the centre of London - Zone 1, costs £12.50.
If there had been more to do, then perhaps I wouldn't complain but there was limited things to see, the museum was small and there wasn't much on display. I know I shouldn't be this petty either but it smelt funny.
If there had been more than the 30 people there while we were, it would have been cramped in the station grounds, especially on a wet or damp day, when no-one wants to go on the Woodland Walk or go on to the surrounding greenery.
If it was a nice day I can imagine having a picnic and watching the trains comes in and pass through. I think this may get boring though. If you have little children the play area is good but I wouldn't suggest paying the price for it, the local park can compete it isn't overly fantastic but available if you are there.
The difference between 1st and 3rd class is simply the upholstery, each carriage has a door on each side, and two benches in it one facing forward and one backward. It is nice quite cosy although you could fit 4 adults on each bench. 8 adults per carriage. We had out 3rd class carriage to ourselves. The seats are rather old and all the springs are worn and out of place, it doesn't make for the most comfy ride.
First class has been re upholstered and is far more comfy and looks more expensive and classy. To be honest though, there isn't much difference. After all it is just a train ride.
The windows are slide down ones and the doors do not lock, I can understand the simple engineering behind these from the period in which steam trains were used but unfortunately I wouldn't say this was safe, it says on the inside of the carriage please do not hang out of the window, a lot of parents were allowing their children to do this, it would only take them knocking the handle on the door and falling out mid ride. Not safe.
The other stations are described as:
Wootton - a quiet country terminus on the main bus route from Ryde and Newport. This just means that Wootton is in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing there, a small station with toilets and no other facilities.
Ashey - a quiet rural halt, no road access and only accessible on foot. This is not really a station, more of a platform amongst some bushes and trees with nothing there. Not that this matters, the train doesn't stop anyway.
Smallbrook - the interchange between the steam railway and the islands electric trains. Again there is no road or footpath access here, if you want to get on the steam train you must come by train. If you want to leave the steam train you must get on an electric train. There is more movement here, and you can understand why, people can enter and leave this way, it is another entrance to the attraction.
The round trip lasts about 45 minutes, it was not the most thrilling adventure I have ever had, it was a nice experience and we did enjoy looking at the front and having a peek at the driver doing all his stuff while the train was in the station.
The facilities need to be improved for the price you pay. Unless you can accept the majority of your money pays for the running and maintenance of these great pieces of engineering and history. Unfortunately for me, I would have rather of paid less and then had the option to donate money, which I would have, I suppose not everyone is like me though.
It is a good experience, I just wouldn't call it a whole day out.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is probably the best kept attraction on the Island and would suit anyone of any age and is a big hit with families who come to the Island on holiday.
After Dr Beeching's report closed a huge number of stations across the length and breadth of the country, the Island's railways was all but decimated. All that was left was a rickety old underground train that goes up and down Ryde Pier and goes back and forth to Sandown. In the old days there were stations in Cowes, Newport and Ventnor.
Luckily enough there are a vast number of railways enthusiasts who want to keep the last remaining stations open and a group of such enthusiasts bought a stretch of track on the Island and opened this heritage railway. The track is now run mainly by volunteers and includes some very old rolling stock steam trains that run between Havenstreet, Wootton and Smallbrook Junction.
The railway is incredibly well kept, probably better now than it ever was in the past. It is just like stepping back in time when going on the trains at Havenstreet and it really is a first class attraction. The great thing about the attraction is that throughout the year they put on shows in the surrounding grounds which are always popular.
The largest of these shows is the Steam Show which showcases old steam engines and steam powered machines as well as an arena of entertainment the most recent of which was medieval jousting. They also host a Victorian weekend, a wine festival and a beer festival.
Recently they ghosted a 1940's weekend which was excellent. Everyone was issued with a ration book, people were in costume and a large array of working war vehicles were on display. They also transformed Wootton Station into 'Nouvion' the fictional town where Allo Allo was set and a small stage play featuring the saucy characters was staged.
Havenstreet station also has an excellent café and whenever we go we always order sausage, chips and beans which at £4.50 always does the job. There is also a shop that sells a vast array of railway themes memorabilia as well as a museum that details the old Island line train system.
The company has ambitions to extend the line in future years and I would welcome any such extension as an Islander. The thought of going to work by steam train sounds great fun - better than by the flippin' bus!
A day out at Havenstreet for the family will cost £9 for an adult. This ticket is valid all day back and forth along the line, if you want to travel first class (basically a slightly nicer carriage) then it will cost you £13. A child's ticket (age 5-15) will set you back £4.50 and then £8.50 for first class. Children under 4 are free. A family ticket (two adults and two children) will cost you £38.50. On special days then the cost will be slightly different. Visit http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk/ for further details.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is probably my favourite Island attraction and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting.
To say that the rail infrastructure that the Isle of Wight used to have was huge is an understatement; from 1862 onwards a total of 54 miles of track virtually covering the whole island, giving residents a full service at their disposal. Unfortunately in 1952 the infrastructure and the various lines were cut back and were closed to what we have today with just the Island Line remaining that runs from Ryde Pier to the southern part of the island totalling just 8.5 miles in length. However there is still an opportunity to see the steam trains in action and have the opportunity to ride upon them between Wooton and Smallbrook Junction and although at just 5.5 miles in length this is definitely an attraction that is worth visiting.
This for me was the main event, I had high expectations of going here and what I would see. Firstly the main problem was finding the place itself!! We saw the signs from where we left the Premier Travel Inn on the road to Cowes and followed them as best we could. However to our dismay and somewhat panic the signs suddenly stopped and we were left heading down a country road not really knowing where we were going. So after a good 30 minutes of travelling we found ourselves at Brading on the East side of the island and made our way back following another set of signs to the railway itself. This was a bit annoying to say the least as it was now 11:00 and we had hoped to be there a bit earlier. Later on we found out that we had passed the sign, only it didn't actually signify the Railway at all, just the village it was located in called Havenstreet.
Upon arrival at Havenstreet there is a big car park, although it was only a quarter full there was plenty of space and we were easily able to park relatively close to the entrance. There were a number of coaches as well and a sudden thought had crossed my mind as to whether those pesky school kids from the Ferry and the Needles Park would be here as well. To get to the Ticket Office you have to walk past some houses, these caught my eye as these seemed to be related in some way to the line itself. One was up for sale at the remarkable price of £260,000, so we walked on.
The entrance price isn't that bad considering it is only a smallish sized heritage line, Adults were £9, and Children were £4.50, this depends on what timetable is running as well. Once paid your given your ticket and a very informative leaflet telling you about the history of the line and more importantly the timetable. As Havenstreet is in the middle of the line as the line only has three main stations (four if Racing is on at Ashey) then the whole line can be travelled in just under 21 minutes from end to end. Smallbrook junction links with the Island Line, allowing a direct link to Ryde and Shankiln.
We decided that after the extended amount of time in the car that a cup of coffee was necessary. Two coffees and a Kit Kat came to £4.20 and we sat outside watching the trains come in to the station. Hot food is available throughout the day and the prices were reasonable. As we were sitting drinking our coffee, there was a slight noise in the distance, this started to get louder and louder until the force of 30 school kids burst into the main area, on no I thought these are the same lot as before!!! Were they following us??? To put the icing on the cake, we couldn't get on a train as they had booked carriages in advance to ensure they all got seats. This meant we weren't allowed ion the train and had to get the next one which was at 11:51 to Smallbrook Junction that was coming from further up the line at Wooton.
Turning a negative into a positive, this meant that we could look round at the site without rushing as we had some time on our hands. The place is based on how it would've looked when the station was in service and was owned by Southern Railways. This would automatically place it in the late forties and early fifties. Naturally all the buildings are in Southern green and all staff are dressed accordingly in the uniforms of the era with all signage in the established Southern font and colours. The whole station complex is spotlessly clean to walk around as litter bins are placed in the correct places and can be seen to be emptied regularly as well. Lavatories are again spotless and are clean without the recognised smells that these usually come with as well. I was impressed top say the least.
The high point is the Museum that is located next to the shop. This tells the story of the line as well as the whole timeline of the infrastructure and contains a staggering amount of kit that was used on the line such as uniforms, lamps and line tokens that were used to ensure trains could run along a certain piece of single track. There are a number of interesting photos on the wall that shows where the lines ran and what they are now in comparison to the time that the trains ran, over 60 years ago. Some items are interactive, a good example being the signal bells that were used to send signals to the signal box to tell them that a train was approaching. This is something that I personally found fascinating as this was a time before red and green lighting being used and didn't realise that I spent over an hour in here looking at quite literally everything. Further examples in the cabinets showed the style of the tickets that could be bought as well as leaflets and the obligatory penalty fare slip. All looked so different from the things that we have today with the tickets showing whether the traveller was riding in the First, Second or Third classes of a train.
Out the back of the Museum are the yards that mange to perform minor miracles. By this I mean the servicing, restoration and the renovating of trains that the railway brings aboard by either purchase or requests from outside for renovation or in some cases left in a will to the place itself. I have to say that I really admire the people who do this task; they are attempting to fix issues with something that is pushing a hundred years old. From the Viewpoint you can see the rail stock in various states of repair, some stripped right down to the frame, while others are just awaiting a final lick of paint.
My other half was very subtle in pointing out that we had completely missed the 11.51 and now had to wait until 12.20 for the next train, mainly due to me spending time in the Museum. So we got out tickets clipped and made our way to the single island platform that the tracks go either side off.
I wasn't expecting anything big to turn up as I knew they run the smaller type of locomotives on the line, but to my surprise the train that did arrive looked brand new and pulled a staggering 11 carriages behind it that took up the whole length of the platform. The loco itself was called Ajaz and was painted in Southern colours befitti8ng a loco of the time. It looked magnificent and was a sight to see when entering the station for the first time over the passenger crossing.
On board the train we were seated in the third standard carriage. What a different experience it was, no side corridor, just enough seating for eight people, in two rows of four seating opposite each other. Roughly each train held over 250 passengers! The only way out was the door at either side of the compartment. A plaque above the headboard said the carriage first went into service in 1986, and has been fully restored by volunteers. It even went so far as to say where the carriage had served on what lines. In fact all carriages have this inside them and goes to show just how much detail is given.
The ride can be a little bumpy at times on the way to Smallbrook Junction; I wasn't complaining at all as the ride was through some beautiful countryside next to farms and houses for the minute journey. We are at the front on the way there and with the engine being moved to the other end for the return journey was at the back. The smell of stem and the noise really does tell you how different it is travelling on a train some 60 years ago when compared to the rather emotionless trains we have today.
Overall I would definitely recommend this as a place to visit; the only downside for me was the business in the shop, as not everything that is sold is related to the place or to the trains as the items on sale could be considered stuff you would find on the Pier or a beachside shop. However there is enough in here to keep you occupied looking as they sell a large of amount of British Rail memorabilia such as badges and caps, so eventually you will find something that you would be willing to spend money on. I did, and found a book about the history of trains on the Island that I wouldn't have normally found elsewhere.
We left after being here for over four hours and were impressed with what there is to see and what there is to do. It is smaller than the Bluebell Railway; however the level of commitment from volunteers showed me that the competition is welcomed and gives the line its very own identity and I have to say a uniqueness that allows the line to blow its own trumpet with what it has achieved since it opened in 1971.
Bottom line is that my expectations were not only met, but very much exceeded. Just be sure to check that they are open on the day you plan to visit.
Steam railways seem to have a way of dividing people. They're either fascinating or boring. Whichever camp you fall into there's no denying that some railways are better than others. Some will appeal to those who love scenery (the Welsh narrow gauge railways spring to mind). Some will appeal to those with a head for heights (try some of the Austrian alp railways). Others will appeal to kids (the Thomas experience in Swindon) and others to pure historians. The Isle of Wight railway is a bit different and there may just be a little something for everyone save for the ardent hater of steam and metal.
Based out of Havenstreet and with trains running between Wooton and Smallbrook Junction (for connection with the Island Line) the IOW steam railway is a little bit of preserved history in action. The largely volunteer-run railway has established itself as one of the foremost attractions on the Isle of Wight.
Most passengers will join the railway at either Smallbrook having arrived by the islands electrified fleet of trains (mostly ex-Northern line underground trains) or will drive to Havenstreet and pick up the railway at the main station. Either way, no visit to the railway would be complete without a trip on the trains.
To be honest, the train journey is probably the least exciting thing about the IoW steam railway. The journey through the IoW countryside is not really that thrilling. There are no mountains to see and no great views of the coast. You'll see a few cows, go across a couple of level crossings and through a couple of tunnels (one of which is long enough to plunge you into pure and total darkness) but that's about it. You go for the ride, for the noise and the bouncy seats (those over 30 reminiscing about the old BR days). You go for the smoke and just to say you've been on a steam train. It's not going to convert non-railway enthusiasts.
What might appeal more is the set up at Havenstreet. The railway museum situated behind the shop is only for the anoraks - the few exhibits are poorly laid out and there are only so many lamp styles one can see before one gets tired of lamps (if indeed one were ever excited by old lamps). The shop itself will be a pestering kids' paradise and every parent's nightmare. Again it's not particularly well set out, nor is it attractive, but if it's about trains or edible you'll probably find it in the shop!
Havenstreet is kitted out 1940s style. As such, the whole place is a step back in time. Whether it's a tea from the canteen or a look at the toys and games of the time that you are after it'll be in period. If you are lucky then all of the staff you encounter will also be attired correctly.
Facilities are fairly basic. Period lavatories, a basic canteen and a children's play area should satisfy most visitors but don't expect excessive comfort or much in the way of a nod towards modernisation!
The IoW Steam Railway really comes alive when events are held, however. At their most basic these can just be "living history" days designed for local school children. At their height it might be a day with Thomas (although Thomas himself doesn't give rides), and Ale festival, a 1940s experience (complete with bands and dancing), a Wizard Week or even a Santa Special. At all these events the volunteers pull out all of the stops to make the day quite magical.
If you're from the Mainland then these events are actually really good value as tickets are available inclusive of ferry travel from Portsmouth for around £20 for adults and £10 for children (Thomas is slightly more expensive). Compared with £10 and £6 for tickets once you're there you'll agree that this allows a day trip to be very good value.
I'd recommend the special events on the railway and also a straightforward visit to the railway as a pleasant way to spend an hour or two. It probably won't change how you feel about steam railways but there's just enough to stop you being bored to tears! What's more, if you don't ride the trains, as long as it's not a special event day then access to the Havenstreet facilities is free!