Station Name: MILL HILL

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 1871
Location: On the east side of Newport Road (A3020)
Company on opening: Cowes & Newport Railway
Date closed to passengers: 21.2.1966
Date closed completely: 21.2.1966
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: Demolished - the station building has been demolished and the trackbed filled in although part of the sweep of the platform edge was still visible in the small park that occupies some of the station site. New housing has been built on the southern part of the station site. The tunnel is extant and used by a gun club.
County: Isle of Wight
OS Grid Ref: SZ497954
Date of visit: October 1967, March 1968, August 1970, 1975 & June 2005

Notes: There is some confusion about the opening date of the station, three different books each giving a different date. Orders to open the station 'forthwith' were given in 14th May 1871 so it was clearly not opened before that date. It first appeared in Bradshaw in October 1871. The station originally had a short siding was located on the up side of the line.

Apart from the tunnel mouth and a small section of platform the site was cleared in 1985 when new housing was built.

For more pictures of Mill Hill Station before closure see Southern E Group web site

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, 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

Mill Hill Station and tunnel in the 1960's
Photo by Roger Traviss from Southern E Group web site

A Cowes train awaits departure from Mill Hill in 1961
Photo by Tony Poole

Mill Hill Station

Mill Hill Station in August 1970
Photo by Nick Catford

Mill Hill Station in June 1975
Photo by Nick Catford

Mill Hill Station looking north in July 1979
Photo by Chris Archer

Mill Hill station looking north-east c.1984.
Photo by Bill Rawlinson

Mill Hill Station shortly before final demolition in 1985 when houses were built on the site
Photo by David Wilkinson

Mill Hill Station in June 2005 - the platform edge is clearly visible.
The tunnel is now used by a gun club.
Photo by Nick Catford

Click here for more pictures of Mill Hill Station

[Source: Nick Catford]

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