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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Great Tiny Train Journeys - Haven Street

It was a rainy day on the Isle of Wight, time to get a train. What a surprise! This has to be one of the best kept tiny railways in England. It is a heritage steam line so it is all about the ride, not the destination, which is just as well because it no longer goes as far as Ryde.

The main station is here at Havenstreet, and there is everything here for a great day out.

Havenstreet station is the heart of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Home to all of the Railway’s main events, this quaint station has been carefully restored to reflect a 1940s British Railways (Southern) style station.

There is even a live webcam at the station so you can check out if there is anything going on after you have read this.

The engine pulling our train on the day was 41298, an example of the Class 2 2-6-2 tank locomotive designed for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway by George Ivatt. Construction of the class began in 1946 with No. 1200. Ten locomotives were completed before nationalisation of the railways in 1948, the remaining 120 being built by British Railways.

Intended for light duties, the design incorporated labour saving features usually found on larger engines of the time, including hopper ashpans and rocking grates. The side tanks have a capacity of 1,350 gallons, and the bunker, which is sloped inwards to give a clear view to the rear, has a ladder giving access to the coal space, a feature directly influenced by American practice.

41298 was built at Crewe Works in 1951. Its first shed was Bricklayer’s Arms on the Southern Region where it was mainly used on empty stock workings into and out of Victoria Station, London. In 1953 41298 was transferred to Devon for work on the branch lines around Barnstaple. Ten years later she was moved to Weymouth for employment on boat-train and local passenger turns.

In 2008, 41298 was moved to the Isle of Wight arriving at Havenstreet on 28th November. In 2009 The Ivatt Locomotive Trust generously transferred ownership of 41298 and their other locomotives to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. After a complete overhaul, 41298 hauled her first passenger trains on the line during September 2015, and remains in regular service.

It was a day of rain and steam.

Inside our cosy, and fully restored carriage we sheltered from the elements. This carriage is an antique and has had a long and varied life on and off the tracks. It has the original window opening devices, a broad leather strap that lifts and lowers the window, and like a belt that holds up your trousers, there are spaced holes in the leather to position the window at different heights.

It was originally divided into compartments with no corridor, with bench seats opposite each other and a door either side. During restoration it was decided to make it suitable for disabled, wheelchair use. As a result, half a wall was removed to join two compartments and double doors were installed at one end.

The carriage is designated the SR 2515 and was built in 1894 so it is nearly 130 years old. The external and internal styling still has a resemblance of the horse drawn stage coaches which these trains had not long replaced for long distance travel. What is also interesting is that it is Third Class.

It originally had four compartments and underwent various modifications to repurpose it, during its working life on the railway. It arrived on the island in 1930 and was finally withdrawn in 1937, so how come it survived so long?

After it finished work on the railway it went into semi retirement as a holiday chalet at Colwell. It was donated to the railway in 1981 and took three years to restore into the historic thing of beauty we see here today.

Historically, Third Class carriages were open wagons where passengers were expected to stand up and be assaulted by the weather, and possibly each other. People were known to die on these journeys.

In 1844 The Railway Regulation Act sought to change this crazy system. Parliament laid down minimum standards in the "Wild West" of the rapidly booming railways.

The Act stated:

One train with provision for carrying third-class passengers, should run on every line, every week day, in each direction, stopping at every station. (These are what were originally known as "parliamentary trains.")

The fare should be 1d. per mile.

Its average speed should not be less than 12 miles per hour (19 km/h).

Third-class passengers should be protected from the weather and be provided with seats.

In return the railway operator was exempted from duty on third class passengers. The price was not cheap for working people. An additional requirement was that they should be allowed to carry 56 lb (25 kg) of luggage free. It helped those in search of work thus, as Smith points out, its benefit was to improve labour supply.

Railway companies also began providing lighting in third-class carriages. However, whereas there were several oil lamps in the first class carriages, third-class carriages only had one.

The Isle of Wight is an island in the English Channel, two to five miles (3.2 to 8.0 km) off the coast of Hampshire, across the Solent. It is the largest and second-most populous island in England. Referred to as 'The Island' by residents, the Isle of Wight has resorts that have been popular holiday destinations since Victorian times. It is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland, and chines. The island is historically part of Hampshire and is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

It may be known by residents as "The Island" but by the residents of the rest of England it is known as the 1950's. The whole island is spick and span and has an air of nostalgia about it.

Although wet, the mist and fog were supplied by our steam engine and accompanied us on the trip.

The national coal strike of 1912 was the first national strike by coal miners in the United Kingdom. Its main goal was securing a minimum wage. After 37 days, the government intervened and ended the strike by passing the Coal Mines Act, extending minimum wage provisions to the mining industry and certain other industries with many unskilled manual jobs.

The strike began at the end of February in Alfreton, Derbyshire and spread nationwide. Nearly one million miners took part. It ended on 6 April after 37 days. The strike caused considerable disruption to train and shipping schedules.

...and this was why a coal strike mattered so much to a railway.

In the workshops some highly skilled restorations are always under way.

This restoration is the LCDR Brake Third 4115. It was built in 1898 in Birmingham for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. Again, it was transferred to the island in the 1930's, one of forty similar vehicles. This one was retired in 1948 to become a farm store and animal shelter. It was the first carriage to be rescued by The Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Work started in 2020 and is expected to take several years. Further train bodies are in storage with the aim being to eventually complete an entire train of LCDR carriages.

These exhibits are part of the Train Story museum complex. This amazing interactive museum was made possible by a £1.2m grant funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and first opened its doors in April 2014.

Francis Coghlan wrote a report on third-class carriages for the London & Birmingham Railway in 1838.

I advise passengers to get as far from the engine as possible as the vibration is very much diminished. Always sit (if you can get a seat) with your back towards the engine, against the boarded part of the waggon; by this plan you will avoid being chilled by the current of cold air which passes through these open waggons and also save you from being blinded by the small cinders which escape from the funnel.

Samuel Laing wrote a report on third-class railway travel in 1842.

The sides and ends of the carriages are only two feet high. A moderate shock is enough to throw the passengers out of the carriage.

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4 commenti

John Durham
John Durham
27 mar 2023

Such a wonderfully restored railway. You did a great job capturing the essence of what fine work has been done, and remains to be done, on this piece of history. Well work the time spent to travel such a "slow road".

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
27 mar 2023
Risposta a

Thanks John.

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Membro sconosciuto
26 mar 2023

Such a fun post and I bet I know (asssuming he went along) who enjoyed the ride. Also your captures are perfect becuase of the perspective and angles you took...... Do you think those suitcases would survive the means of trasportation that is available now?

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
27 mar 2023
Risposta a

Those are the sort of suitcases you can't lift even when empty. And no wheels.

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