Bembridge Station Ivan Berryman
Bembridge Station: Picture by Ivan Berryman

ON THIS DAY: THE LAST TRAINS DEPARTED FROM FRESHWATER AND BEMBRIDGE RAILWAY STATIONS 70 YEARS AGO

The railway lines between Brading – Bembridge and Newport – Freshwater saw their final passenger trains depart on Sunday 20th September 1953 – 70 years ago today.

The train on the 12-mile-long Newport to Freshwater line left the crowded West Wight terminus 3 minutes early at 21:31 after one of the busiest passenger-carrying days in its 64 years of operation.

The last train to run between Bembridge, St Helens and Brading was greeted with cheers from a crowded platform, bugle calls and explosions from fog signals. Over 300 passengers made the return journey, including a Mr Occomore, who had made the journey on the first train to run the route in 1882.

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The Isle of Wight Mercury expressed fears that the loss of the 2 lines would eventually result in the loss of the whole Isle of Wight rail network.

The letter writer Mr Guy Mitchell wrote:

“It is with many misgivings as to the future that I read of British Railways’ threat to close all the lines in the Isle of Wight in five years’ time. The congestion on the roads would be too great to contemplate with an easy mind. Especially do I think the line from Ryde to Ventnor ought to be kept open, both for passenger and goods traffic.

“If a million pounds would have to be spent on improving the roads, there does not seem to be much saving! Instead of increasing fares, I think the reverse should be the case, to encourage people to use the railways more than they do now.”

Following the closure of the lines to Bembridge and Freshwater, the line between Newport and Sandown ceased operation in 1956, that between Ryde, Newport and Cowes in 1966, together with the one between Shanklin and Ventnor.

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Today, we have only 8 stations – Ryde Pier Head, Ryde Esplanade, Ryde St Johns, Smallbrook, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin – compared with the 40 or so that existed at the end of World War II.

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Wotawally
Wotawally
5 months ago

It was a great mistake then, but possibly understandable with a lot less road traffic in the 50s so the roads could cope at that time.
Of the existing stations, Lake is a new build opened in 1987 to serve the local population, and Smallbrook exists only in order to link to the IOWSR, so 35 stations/halts have gone.

Trevor
Trevor
Reply to  Wotawally
5 months ago

When Lake station opened it was an excuse to increase fares.

Trams would be great for the Island, the world is going back in time.
Trams are the in thing in 2023

Islandr
Islandr
Reply to  Trevor
5 months ago

Cars are the only answer! Close the train line and give every passenger their own car!

Dave slater
Dave slater
Reply to  Islandr
5 months ago

Ban cars and subsidize train and bus travel for a beautiful island!

J S
J S
5 months ago

Great story.

Would love to see these stations brought back to life and
the Railway going to Freshwater again.
We can only dream

R Good
R Good
5 months ago

Isn’t Ryde pier head a station?

Last edited 5 months ago by R Good
Nigel Cooper
Nigel Cooper
5 months ago

Actually it was 21st September 1953 they both closed.
My mother was on the last train from Yarmouth to Newport

 

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