Station Name: ASHEY

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 20.12.1875
Location: On the east side of Station Road
Company on opening: Ryde & Newport Railway
Date closed to passengers: 21.2.1966
Date closed completely: 21.2.1966
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Reopened: 21.2.1966
Company on reopening : Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Present state: The down platform has been restored and reopened in 1991 as part of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The main station buildings on the up platform have been converted into a private residence but much of the platform has been demolished. Only the 1926 extension is still there.
County: Isle of Wight
OS Grid Ref: SZ578888
Date of visit: March 1968, June 1975 & 4.6.2005

Notes: When the Ryde & Newport Railway opened the only passing loop was at Ashey. From the down loop a siding ran south to a chalk quarry under Ashey Down, this also served an adjacent racecourse which had its own station until about 1930. In 1926 the platform was extended by the Southern Railway to accommodate longer trains; the 'join' can be clearly seen in the photograph below.

The main station buildings were located on the passing loop which was taken out of service in 1926 and following the closure of the racecourse in the 1930's, passenger numbers quickly declined and in 1953 the station was reduced to unmanned halt status.

The down platform has now been restored and the station reopened as part of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. There is some confusion over up and down lines. Many web sites refer to the restored platform as the 'up' platform. Old timetables and track plans show it as the 'down' platform.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ISLE OF WIGHT CENTRAL RAILWAY
The railways were late in coming to the Isle of Wight. Despite several proposals and a failed Bill the first railway didn't reach the Island until 1862 when the Cowes and Newport Railway opened their line between those two towns. Two years later the Isle of Wight Railway opened a line between Ryde & Shanklin but it was a further 11 years before the two lines were linked by the Ryde and Newport Railway which diverged from the Isle of Wight Railway at Smallbrook Junction, running into a joint station with the CNR at Newport.

The Isle of Wight (Newport Junction) Railway also opened in 1875 from the IWR at Sandown through Merstone to a terminus at Newport Pan Lane; the line was extended into the joint station at Newport in 1879 and Pan Lane was closed. Within 10 years this line was virtually bankrupt,

In 1887 the Isle of Wight Central Railway was formed when the three companies amalgamated. The Newport Godshill and St. Lawrence Railway was opened from Merstone to St. Lawrence in 1897 and to Ventnor Town in 1900. The Isle of Wight Central operated this line until 1913; it was then bought by the Central. Despite being closer to the town centre than the IWR station high above the town the new station failed to capture much traffic from its competitor.

All the islands railways were absorbed into the Southern Railway in the 1923 grouping and the service was soon upgraded with the introduction of new rolling stock and a revised timetable that included some through running between the various lines. The Southern Railway itself became part of the Southern Region of British Railways after nationalisation in 1948 and initially there were few changes. However this was short lived; improved bus services and the popularity of the motor car soon led to dwindling passenger numbers. Merstone - Ventnor was the first line to close in 1952 followed by the former Freshwater Yarmouth and Newport Railway in 1953 and the Newport - Sandown line in 1956.

The remaining line between Cowes and Smallbrook Junction survived the initial wave of closures but with the end of steam on the horizon the reprieve was short lived with the line closing to passengers under the Beeching cuts in February 1966. Goods traffic continued to Cowes and Newport for a few months but that too was withdrawn by May 1966.

The southern end of the Isle of Wight Railway between Shanklin and Ventnor was also closed allowing the remaining line between Ryde and Shanklin to be electrified. This is still open and operated by ex-LT tube stock as the Island Line. The island originally had 55 1/2 miles of railways but after 1966 only 8 1/4 miles remained open.

In 1967 there was a scheme to reopen the line between Cowes and Ryde using railbuses, this was known as Vectrail. As part of this scheme the Sadler 'Pacerailer' railbus was developed with a prototype vehicle in Vectrail livery undergoing trials at Droxford Station on the disused Meon Valley line in Hampshire. Eventually this scheme was abandoned.

Six bogie carriages of London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and South Eastern and Chatham Railway origin were acquired by the Wight Locomotive Society, along with a variety of wagons, at the end of British Railways steam services on the Isle of Wight in 1966.

Initial restoration took place at Newport Station but in 1970 the local council acquired the station for a new bypass for the town and the Society were required to remove their rolling stock at short notice. Following the formation of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway in 1971 these were then moved to Havenstreet in January of that year. Havenstreet became the headquarters of the railway. Gradually a five mile section of track between Smallbrook Junction and Wootton was purchased and restored with a new station being built at Wootton (on the opposite side of the road); this opened in 1987. On 21.7.1991 the line was reopened westwards to Ashey and on to a new terminus at Smallbrook Junction where new interchange facilities are now available with the electrified Island Line.

Many of the islands other disused lines have now been given a new lease of life as public footpaths and cycleways, these include Newport - Sandown (Perowne Way), Newport - Cowes, Wootton - Newport and Brading - Bembridge.

Click here for further selected reading

To see the other stations on the Isle of Wight Central Railway line click on the station name: Cowes, Mill Hill, Medina Wharf Halt,
Cement Mills Halt, Newport, Whippingham, Wootton, Havenstreet, Ashey Racecourse, Newport Pan Lane, Shide, Blackwater, Merstone, Godshill,
Whitwell
, St. Lawrence, Ventnor West, Horringford, Newchurch & Alverstone

Click here for Isle of Wight station index

Ashey station looking west c.1950s. The 1926 extension to accommodate longer trains is
clearly seen on the right.




Ashey station looking west c.1950s.


Ashey Station in the 1960's - by this time the station had been reduced to unmanned halt status. The passing loop has been lifted and the platform edge removed.
Photo by John L. Smith

The substantial up platform buildings at Ashey c.1965.
P
hoto by Bill Rawlinson

Ashey station looking east c.1965.
Photo by Bill Rawlinson


Ashey station looking west in March 1968. The original up platform has been removed leaving only the 1926 extension seen on the right.
Photo by Nick Catford

Ashey station looking west in June 1975.
Photo by Nick Catford


Ashey Station in June 2005. The track has been re-laid and the up platform has been restored and reopened as part of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
Photo by Nick Catford


Ashey Station in June 2005. The restored waiting shelter and a new sign
Photo by Nick Catford

1960's

1960's

1968

1968

1968

1968

1968

1975

1975

2005

2005

2005

2005

2005


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

[Source: Nick Catford]


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