Friday, 16 April 2010

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway part 1

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It was our eighth wedding anniversary on Sunday 28 March and we treated ourselves to a first class ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (well, it was only a little bit more expensive than the third class tickets!). 

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Everything about Havenstreet Station was wonderfully authentic.

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The carriage was marvellous.  We could just imagine the noble folk of the late nineteenth century sitting in the carriage in all their finery.  I visualised a proper lady sitting there with her high necked shirt, little jacket and hat, long skirt and high Victorian boots.  Perhaps their ghosts remain?

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We had the carriage to ourselves for a little while and then an elderly couple joined us with their son.  They began to talk about how as children they used to sleep on the luggage rack up above on long distance trips from Swansea to Glasgow.  They had been upgraded to first class because the man used to work as a steam train driver.  He had some photographs on him and showed them to me, much to the embarrassment of his wife!  Naturally, I was thrilled.  Not as thrilled as he was when the train began to move off – he was moved to tears as the sounds of the steam and the whistle brought back all of the memories for him.  It was so touching. 

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They asked if I was a steam train enthusiast but I said no, I just like old things and that we’d recently been going through my grandfather’s old photographs.  We spoke about The War (the Second World War).  Both the man and women had only recently “got rid of” their uniforms and the thought quite scared me!  They had moved into a smaller place but I could imagine they must have been in pristine condition.  They assured me that they had sold them on to enthusiasts so I was mollified both that they would have made some money from selling them and that they would be kept safe now. 

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It was a lovely ride and I so enjoyed our company!  As we arrived at the next station, I took a peek out of the window at the tracks.  Stephen and I are trying to figure out – are the tracks wider or narrower today than they used to be in the age of steam engines?  We know that they are different but we couldn’t figure it out.

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We decided to take a walk around the little town of Wootton as the brochure promised that there were two pubs nearby. Ha! Not quite but that is a tale for another post.

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16 comments

  1. Hi Emm I love steam trains and used to travel on them as a kid. The rail gauge is the same for modern day and old steam locos.

    BTW steam was still hauling BR trains into the 1960's.

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  2. @ Mike: Really?? But I heard that the steam train up to Cambridge has to use different tracks because the old ones are narrower but then we thought they were wider. Hmmm. I believe you though! And yes, this old man worked on the steam trains from the end of the war right up to the 60s.

    @ Michelle: Oh dear... does that make you a squib then?

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  3. Love the old carriages, I'm a child from the end of the war, so those carriages with the string luggage racks, photos, strap to lower and raise the window etc, all part of my boyhood; love steam trains. Sounds like you had a good day.

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  4. Emm-thanks for your comments on my question. I guess I find it odd, but maybe it's not. What's blogcritics???
    Your pictures always amaze me. I wish I'd been to more of the places you go!

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  5. What a great experience! Even modern trains are great ways to get from point A to point B, but the vintage ones add such an element of romance! At least if you're not in a hurry 8-)

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  6. I used to collect old train sets when my grandfather was alive, and I had one that looked just like this. They are so romantic, indeed.

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  7. That is a wonderful ride. It's nice they maintain the trains just like in old times, the charm's still there.

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  8. Hi Emm - nice post. Don't forget we still have a few preserved steam railways here in Kent.

    My little boy really likes the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. That one is narrow gauge (smaller tracks) and all the engines are one third the size of the original mainline trains. Most of the engines were built in the 1920's and are still going strong eighty odd years later.

    Glen / Kent Today & Yesterday

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  9. @ John: Oh yes - the leather strap! I forgot to mention that - it was intriguing!!

    @ Missy: Thank you! I do so like to show people my world! BlogCritics is a site I write for. We do TV, film, music and book reviews. My profile is http://blogcritics.org/writers/emm.

    @ Kathy: Oh, definitely. Old trains are for enjoying and sitting back. Don't be in a hurry! Then again, I am always slightly disappointed when my train journey ends each evening!!

    @ The Ancient Digger: My parents bought my brother one and I absolutely coveted it!!!

    @ Robert: me too! There is just something about them...

    @ Ceemee: I totally agree! They are just wonderful!

    @ Glen: Thanks for the heads up! I didn't know about the steam railways in Kent and will certainly investigate!

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  10. This sounds marvelous. I'd love to do it myself. I'm going to show your post to my husband. If I ever get to UK, I'm going to try.

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  11. @ Cassandra: Oh, it is just lovely Cassandra but as my friend Glen explained, there are lots of steam trains around England so you'd certainly be able to find one even if you didn't go to the Isle of Wight. Having said that, IOW is just lovely and I do recommend it.

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  12. Emm as I was born in the ex railway town of Swindon this post is most interesting to me. The top photo is delightful and the ride must have given you a real taste of the olden days long gone by.

    An elderly couple who had only recently disposed of their old uniforms and your thoughts of Victorian ghosts. Perhaps you and your husband really were alone in your carriage compartment. Spooky.

    Congratulations to the pair of you on your recent wedding anniversary.

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  13. @ Martyn: Hiya! Yeah, it was an amazing day, I must say. I wouldn't be surprised if I was indeed seeing ghosts!!! Thanks for the anniversary wishes!

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  14. What lovely photos and day out. Have you tried Steam Dreams, pretty nice company doing steam train excursions in some beautiful trains. Saw one pull in at Waterloo the other week, very impressive. Will probably buy one this summer to treat my wife :-)

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  15. Hi Jack! No, I haven't tried Steam Dreams but I think I will in the future. I really enjoyed my steam train adventure!

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