Station Name: WHITWELL

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 20.7.1897
Location: On the north side of Nettlecombe Lane
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: Both platforms and all station buildings are extant although the trackbed between the platforms has been infilled although the platform edges are still visible. The station has been restored including a new canopy on the main building on the up platform and a station sign on the down platform. The waiting rooms have now been converted into two holiday cottages.
County: Isle of Wight
OS Grid Ref: SZ522782
Date of visit: October 1967 & June 2005

Notes: Whitwell was the only station on the line to have a passing loop and two platforms. The main station buildings are on the up platform with a small waiting shelter on the down platform. There was a small goods yard and loading dock on the down side. The NG & SLR was taken over by the IWCR in 1913 but despite all efforts to attract passengers the route to Ventnor by the Isle of Wight Railway was always more direct and more popular. After the Southern Railway takeover in 1923 economies were made and with the small amount of traffic the passing loop could no longer be justified and this was taken out of use in 1926 and the signal box was closed.

The station was downgraded to 'partially unstaffed' (summer season only) on 16.3.1928 and further downgraded to an unstaffed halt and goods depot on 1.7.1941.

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

Click here for Isle of Wight station index

Whitwell Station in 1948

1908 1:2,500 OS map.

Whitwell Station looking south.

Whitwell station looking north in the early 1950's; the passsing loop has been lifted.
Photo by John L. Smith

Whitwell station looking north c. 1964.
hoto by Bill Rawlinson

Whitwell station c.1964.
Photo by Bill Rawlinson

Whitwell Station in October 1967
Photo by Nick Catford

Whitwell Station in June 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

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