Wings and Wheels Society.

Isle of Wight SR 100 Gala 24-6-2023.

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway (IoWSR) held a gala to commemorate 100 years since the formation of the Southern Railway over a scorching hot weekend in June 2023. Given the logistical barrier of shipping visiting engines over the Solent it is unusual for IoWSR Galas to feature a guest but they had pushed the boat out this time and Terrier 672 Fenchurch was visiting from the Bluebell to conclude the Terrier 150 celebrations. Original plans for an extended visit were scuppered, so it was a long day trip. An early train from Cam & Dursley saw me at Portsmouth just in time for the Ferry (which were still only hourly). Arrival at Ryde Pier Head saw no trains due to engineering work, so it was a stroll down to Ryde Esplanade to board the “new” class 484 class EMU. In true Island railway tradition these are cast offs from the mainland, in this case 40-year-old former LT D78 District Line stock. Surprisingly modern(ish) but lacking the charm of the previous 1938 Bakerloo tube trains. A good number alighted at Smallbrook Junction where there was chaos as the computerised ticket system had overheated, but the ticket lady improvised and issued travel permits so we could get tickets at Haven Street. Attendance was good with a large number of locals filling the compartments of pre-grouping rolling stock. Fortunately, the three Victorian tank engines seemed unaffected by the heat (Fenchurch was joined by home engines 02 0-4-4 W24 Calbourne and Terrier 0-6-0T Freshwater) and I spent a pleasant afternoon riding the line with a break at the Woodman's Arms at Wotton, nice beer garden but £5.70 for a pint of Adnams Ghost Ship. Then it was back to Haven Street for more beer and a quick visit to the new Island Train Story Museum featuring a recently preserved LT 1938 two car EMU. Given the challenges for photography due to the layout of the line somebody had the bright idea to line-up all three engines late afternoon at Haven Street. Unfortunately, this attracted a large number of visitors, make getting snaps a real challenge. Then it was time to head back home with the two Terriers paired up for a cracking run back for a return across a very busy Solent. This gave the opportunity to snap a Hovercraft, Mega Cruise liner, and T45 Destroyer HMS Defender passing each other. Then I unexpectedly bumped into W&W supremo Rich Kelsey and Rob Stopford returning from their visit to the Steam Ship Shieldhall at Southampton. This meant there was an opportunity to turn a missed connection at Bristol into a cheeky pint (or two) of Launceston Ale at the Cornubia. My thanks as ever to the volunteers of the IoWSR and the various loco groups for a cracking event.

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to N Clarke.