Nostalgic May 7: Isle of Wight Hovercraft and Steam (50 p. + 1 v.) is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Nostalgic May 6: Swanage Steam & Double Decker Ferry (50 p.)

The new video for this part:

May 16 2023

The forecast for Tuesday was the best in an overall sunny week, perfect for my first day trip to the Isle of Wight - during many other journeys I had been too busy on the mainland.

A Cross Country Voyager shunted through Bournemouth station exactly in perfect lighting at 6:48 a.m. The next departure was supposed to be the 7:30 to Manchester Piccadilly. However, the line was closed between Didcot and Oxford which also was about to affect my later plans. Unlike many people, Voyagers are not disliked by me - unless they are too full. They have served me well on previous trips, but I managed to avoid them completely this time.


My 5:55 Weymouth – London Waterloo was joined with a stopping train which had departed Bournemouth 20 minutes earlier to a 10-coach-service leaving Southampton Central punctually at 7:30 a.m.

South Western Railway class 450 - the second Siemens Desiro variant for suburban lines - and a Southern class 377 Bombardier Electrostar at Southampton Central on a lovely spring morning.

South Western operates its class 158 Express Sprinter DMUs on the West of England mainline to Salisbury and Exeter, as well as like here Salisbury - Romsey and Brockenhurst - Lymington Pier.

This conjures up memories of my last England visit after Christmas 2015... the Great Western Railway connection Portsmouth - Bristol and further. Back then I went to Bristol, luckily already boarding at Cosham near Portsmouth. A few stops later passengers simply were left at the platform because nobody could fit into the short DMU anymore.
This time, there were not too many people onboard the morning service from Bristol - but it arrived 15 minutes late which increased to almost half an hour reaching Portsmouth.

I got off at Portsmouth & Southsea and walked 25 minutes through the city rather than waiting for the shuttle bus. There still was more than half an hour to spare.
Near the station you pass by Portsmouth Guildhall from 1890.

My rail through ticket was shortly checked at Portsmouth Southsea Hoverport, then I entered the already quite full waiting room. Through the window you could spot something approaching across the Solent from Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

At Ryde half an hour later. Impressions from the ten-minute-flight can be watched at the start of the video, more hovercraft scenes towards the end of the video.

"Solent Flyer" which had brought me here in the middle, to the right its sister boat "Island Flyer", both Griffon 12000TD delivered in 2016. To the left Griffon BHT130 "Solent Express" which only had been in service 2007-2011 as it turned out to be too large for this route - the last regular commercial passenger hovercraft line in the world:


"Solent Flyer" departed again at 10:15 a.m. (see end of the video).

Sadly, there were works on the pier railway line until summer, trains terminated at Ryde Esplanade station behind the boat.

Fascinating how fast these things accelerate.

170-metre-tall Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth port in the background.

No worries, of course you can still capture train and hovercrafts together! :0)

The new class 484 D-trains of the Island Line had been in service since November 2021. Arrival at the multimodal transport node Ryde Esplanade, some work also was underway here. I was lucky as more of the line had been closed shortly before. During a complete ten-month-closure in 2021 the old London tube units had been replaced:


A bigger ferry approaching in the background.

I walked to the platform to catch the next service.

Only ten minutes and two stops later: the heritage train of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction, hauled by Hunslet Austerity WD92/192 "Waggoner" built in 1953:


Smallbrook Junction is completely isolated from its surroundings, not even a footpath leads here. The big "chimney" is part of the public toilet as sewers are missing from the station as well.
I recorded the departure first (see video) and stayed here.

484005 approached from Ryde, I replaced the tree covering the church with a shot from a slightly different angle.

Virtual meeting with the next steam service at the wooden platform.

484003 returned from Shanklin at 11:18 a.m.


The heritage train actually showed up at 11:47.


The reversing steam engine could be captured with All Saints' Church in Ryde as well, also called "Cathedral of the Island". I have removed the bright yellow temporary speed restriction announcement board from the heritage scenes.


With a ticket you reserve a seat on the next round trip Haven Street - Smallbrook Junction - Haven Street - Wootton - Haven Street. I did this online beforehand, even on a weekday it was quite busy. For the rest of the day, you can travel as much as you want on unreserved coaches:


Arrival at 12:30 for the second time at Haven Street, after the round trip to Wootton.

Only a short break for the locomotive.

In the meantime, I hiked in t-shirt-weather through the serene landscape.

Past a farm.

It is not that easy to find a publicly accessible open spot along the line. There would be a level crossing on a meadow at Haven Street but completely on private land, not even visible from a distance.
Luckily, I managed to discover this public level crossing on my scouting steam ride to Wootton:

The next service returned from Smallbrook Junction at 1:30 p.m.

The loco produced small white separate steam clouds like you rarely see it - the scene could be straight from a child's painting.


Back from Wootton ten minutes later.



After walking back for half an hour, I took a closer look at Haven Street depot.
This six-wheeled crane under maintenance had been purchased in 1912 by the Isle of Wight Central Railway from the Midland Railway.

Busy volunteers.

The interior structure of a carriage visible inside the shed.

British Railway class 03 D2059 (Doncaster / built in 1959).

Barclay Shunter #235 from 1945 had been acquired from the National Army Museum.

In later afternoon light.


After taking coal, "Waggoner" got busy again at 2:30 p.m.

Ivatt class 2 41298 (Crewe / built in 1951) in the background.


Let's stay a bit more at this lovely spot - then we will continue into another part of the country. :)
mainost0750.jpg is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)