Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Isle of Wight review 1

Shanklin railway station


Ryde Pier to Shanklin


The train leaves on time, although the ferry we came on runs a few minutes late, so some slow walkers miss it. It is an old London Underground train so it seems strange to be travelling sideways. The guard comes and checks our tickets as soon as we leave. We travel down the pier for about a hundred yards, running parallel with the road pier, before coming into Ryde Esplanade station. It is an old station painted white and blue. About twenty passengers get on, though thirty get off, so the train looks emptier. There are two tracks here as we run parallel to the A3054 road.

We go into a tunnel, emerging into a cutting and then we see a park on the left and a factory on the right. We are still in the town of Ryde, as we come into Ryde St John's Road station. It has three platforms, two of them on an island and is painted in Southern Railway green. It is a well-maintained station, right next to the carriage sheds on the left, where the multi-coloured unit is stabled. There is also a signal box on the right. Soon after we leave, we pass some allotments on the right and speed up to about 50 mph. There are no welded rails, so it is very bumpy here.

We are now out into the Isle of Wight countryside and soon we go past the Isle of Wight steam railway on the right at Smallbook Junction, where there is a small platform. There are woods on both sides now as we reach about 60 mph. We then slow down as the woods disappear and we pass scrubland on the left and a football ground on the right. We pass through a small cutting, before we come into Brading station. It has an old signal box and an island platform with no graffiti. The main red brick station building has its edges painted green and is well preserved.

As we leave, we pass houses on the right and more scrub land on the left. We reach 50 mph as we pass a sewage works on the left. Houses appear again on both sides and then we pass into a cutting before emerging at Sandown station. There are two platforms and one has a semaphore signal at the end. The original station building is painted in white and green. Over twenty passengers get off. We pause here for a train coming the other way, so our guard gets out and sits on the platform for a break. The other train leaves before we do and I notice a nice view of the hills on the right.

We go into another cutting and then emerge to house on both sides. We then stop at Lake station. It has just a small shelter on its single platform, which looks fairly modern. At last you can see the sea now on the left. We leave and go into another cutting and then there are houses on both sides. Then we slow again as we come into Shanklin station. It is essentially the same station design as the others with the original station building still standing on just a single platform. It is the end of the line and the train only stays in the station for five minutes, before going back to Ryde Pier again.

Summary: A busy line used by many tourists in the summer months and being the only railway line on the island, it provides a valuable transport link for local people. MC