Station Name: MERSTONE

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: Line opened 1.2.1875 but Blackwater Station probably opened later and first appeared in a public timetable June 1876
Location: On the west side of an unnamed minor road.
Company on opening: Newport Junction Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.2.1956
Date closed completely: 6.2.1956
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: The platform is extant. The station site is now a public area and a car park for the Perowne Way (cycleway). The car park and cycleway are on one side of the island platform with grass the other side.
County: Isle of Wight
OS Grid Ref: SZ526845
Date of visit: March 1968, June 1975 & 4.6.2005

Notes: The station was known as Merstone Junction until 1.10.1911. When opened the station had a single platform but with the opening of the Newport, Godshill & St. Lawrence Railway in 1897 the station was rebuilt with an island platform.

The isolated position meant that the station never generated much passenger traffic and was at its busiest when passengers used the station to interchange between trains on the Sandown and Ventnor lines.

The station was originally provided with a pedestrian subway for access but this was prone to flooding so the Southern Railway replaced the subway with an access ramp. There was a small goods yard to one side of the island platform.

The booking office was located within the station house, facing out onto the level crossing. A small goods yard was located on the opposite side of the level crossing.

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.

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.

Tickets from Brian Halford

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, Ashey Racecourse, Newport Pan Lane, Shide, Blackwater, Merstone, Godshill, Whitwel, St. Lawrence, Ventnor West, Horringford, Newchurch & Alverstone

Click here for Isle of Wight station index

Merstone station looking north-east in June 1950
Photo by A. R. Sedgwick

1898 1:2,500 OS map. Merstone station is on the north side of the road, The island platform and station building are shown. The signal box is adjacent to the level crossing. One the south side of the crossing the lines diverge with one line going south to Ventnor West and another running south-east to Sandown. A small goods yard comprising a single siding and a goods shed is seen.

Merstone station looking south-west in 1950. A train has just departed for Ventnor West and another train from Ryde is about to arrive.

Merstone station in the 1950's
Photo by John L. Smith

0-6-2T No. 25 leaving Merstone station in February 1956
Photo by Gerald Daniel

Merstone sation looking north-east c late 1950s.

By 1964 the island platfrorm at Merstone station was very overgrown.
Photo by Bill Rawlinson

Merstone station looking north-west in March 1968.
Photo by Nick Catford

Merstone Station in August 1977
Photo by Nick Catford

Merstone Station in June 2005 - the station site is now a car park for the Perowne Way.
Photo by Nick Catford

In recent years a strange ruuning-in board, half wood and half stone, has been erected at Merstone. (April 2012).
Photo by David Burrows from his Flickr photostream





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:[Source: Nick Catford]

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