Station Name: VENTNOR WEST

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 1.6.1900
Location: Castle Close runs through the station site
Company on opening: Newport, Godshill & St. Lawrence Railway
Date closed to passengers: 15.9.1952
Date closed completely: 15.9.1952
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: Although the station was demolished during the construction of Castle Close, the main station building has been retained and converted into a number of dwellings with side of the building that faced the platform now facing onto Castle Close.
County: Isle of Wight
OS Grid Ref: SZ554772
Date of visit: 4.6.2005

Notes: Following the construction of the line from Merstone, a temporary terminus was opened at St. Lawrence in 1897, the line finally reaching Ventnor Town as it was originally named in 1900. Although the station was provided with two platforms, the platform on the up side of the line had no buildings and saw little use with most trains terminating on the down side.

As the station was a mile west of the town centre the name was changed to Ventnor West on 9.7.1923 following the takeover by the Southern Railway. While most of the stations were eventually downgraded to unstaffed halts by the Southern Railway, Ventnor West retained its staff despite poor passenger numbers throughout its life. Although sited high above the town, the Isle of White Railway's Ventnor Station provided a faster and more poplar route from Ryde.

The station had a long loop dock road with an inspection pit and water tank and several sidings serving the goods yard which included a coal road.

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 temporary terminus at Pan Lane Newport. 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, Ashey Racecourse, Newport Pan Lane, Shide, Blackwater, Merstone, Godshill, Whitwel, St. Lawrence, Horringford, Newchurch & Alverstone

Click here for Isle of Wight station index

Ventnor West Station in the early 1950's
Photo by John L. Smith

Ventnor West Station in the early 1950's
Photo by John L. Smith

Ventnor West Station in the early 1950's
Photo by John L. Smith

Ventnor West Station looking east in 1957.
Photo by Paul Myatt

Ventnor West Station in March 1960

Ventnor West - front of the station building c. 1964
Photo by Bill Rawlinson

The main station building at Ventnor West now fronts on to Castle Close - seen in June 2005
Photo by Nick Catford





Click on thumbnail to enlarge




[Source: Nick Catford]

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