Note: This page is no longer being developed
For more information about the FYN Click here
The Island once had an extensive network of railways, now reduced to a short length from Ryde to Shanklin run using old London Underground stock. The West Wight once had its own railway which, as the name suggests ran from Newport to Freshwater, it opened in 1889 and closed in 1953. The map below shows the Island railway system in 1901 (it remained the same until the early 1950's)
The first plans for a railway to the western part of the Island were proposed in 1868, but these came to nothing, subsequent plans were in 1871 for a railway from Freshwater to Ventnor along the south coast of the Island, a scenic route but one with virtually no passenger potential and for the route actually later built in 1872, although it was not actually authorised until 1880. The capital cost of the scheme was £3,100,000, subsequently increased to £3,142,000.Surveying took place between 1883 and 1885, and was to be a single track with three passing places. The emphasis was on cheapness!
Construction started in 1886, the contractor being William Jackson and about 100 people were employed to build it. materials were bought across the Solent into a temporary dock at Yarmouth. The picture on the left shows one of the engines used by the Contractors.
The railway reached Newport in 1888 and was opened for goods traffic on 10th September 1888. Excursions were run during that year but the line was not officially inspected for passenger use until May 1889 and after various remedial work was opened on 11th July of that year.
At this time the company owned no rolling stock of its own, this and the staff were provided by the Isle of Wight Central Railway. The FYN was responsible for the maintenance of the line.
This continued on a fairly unsatisfactory basis for a number of years, including the bankruptcy of the railway in 1896. Conflict between the two railways intensified and in 1913 the agreement ceased. The railway bought its own engines and rolling stock (and in the process went bankrupt again!).
It also built its own station just outside the main Newport which required
transferring passengers to walk between the two. This is a picture of it in 1920.
The company operated in bankruptcy until 1923, when the railway was taken over by the Southern Railway as part of railway grouping. As with a lot of things with this railway, this was not straightforward, the Southern offered £350,000 subsequently increased to £360,000 but the railway held out for £370,000. The matter went to appeal, and the figure was set as the original offer of £350,000.
Virtually immediately after the take over the FYN station at Newport was closed and all trains ran into the main station. Improvements were made to all aspects of the railway, including the operation of a through train from Ventnor to Freshwater, named the 'Tourist', which was apparently the only named Isle of Wight train.
In 1947 the Southern Railway was nationalised and became part of British Railways. In 1952 proposals were put forward for the closure of the line. A public enquiry was held at which rather dubious evidence was put forward for the closure (as was the case with many such closures at that time) and it was approved. The last train ran on 20th September 1953. The Isle of Wight County Press reported it as follows:
MEMORABLE SCENES ON BEMBRIDGE AND
The protracted and hard-fought battle for the future of the
Brading - Bembridge and Freshwater - Newport railway lines
ended on Sunday with a defeat for the forces who have opposed
the move to close the lines. While victory in this particular phase
of the struggle must be conceded to the Railway Executive, the
campaign to save the Island railways is not yet concluded.
Meanwhile, the passage of the final trains to be run under the aegis
of the Railway Executive on Sunday evening was accompanied by
remarkable scenes which only go to served to hide the real regret
felt at the passing of the two lines whose history is closely bound up
with the rise of the Island to the position of a premier south coast
health and holiday resort. There are abundant signs, too, that
thousands of regular visitors to the Island regard our railways
with great affection and that, for many, much of the charm of the
Island is typified by the "funny little railways" on which they love
to travel during the summer months."
Freshwater station (then and now)
Postcard Home Page
For further information consult the following, which have been in assistance in preparing this page:
Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport Railway - Blackburn and Mackett (1966)
Centenary of the Freshwater Railway 1889 - 1989