The history of railways on the Isle of Wight is already the subject of numerous publications. Here we will give an insight into how it was regarded by the people of the time.
Notice the ghostly figure on the left of this photograph…………This image would have necessitated a long exposure, and the man in question obviously became bored and moved! No hard hats, either!
Isle of Wight Observer – July 23 1864
ISLE OF WIGHT RAILWAY
Everybody is anxious to know when the Railway is to be opened from Ryde to Shanklin; but none are more anxious on that head than the directors of the Company. The fact is that the contractor – whether he could help it or not we have no evidence to decide – has not kept faith; so that, instead of the opening being on the 1st of May, the earliest possible time will be the 1st of August. This procrastination is a serious loss to the Company and a great inconvenience to the public. However, we went over the head quarters of the line at Ryde on Thursday in company with Mr Bourne, the manager, who courteously gave us every information, and so far as that locality is concerned there is no reason why the line should not be opened at once. There were three powerful and splendid engines, named “Ryde”, “Sandown”, and “Shanklin” in readiness and only waiting for the order to start. The carriages are roomy, comfortable, well ventilated, and glazed with plate glass along the whole length on each side, so as to allow travellers a full view of the country on the journey. The luggage wagons combine all the modern improvements for loading and unloading. If the amount of traffic should correspond to the provision made for it in the rolling stock, it will be very considerable; and we entertain no doubt whatever on that head. The greatest precautions are taken against the possibility of accidents, not only by a most comprehensive yet simple code of rules for every class of servants, but by the adoption of the electric telegraph along the line, which will afford much additional accommodation to the vicinity of Brading, Sandown and Shanklin. The company propose to run eleven trains a day each way, starting from Ryde at 8am, and Shanklin at 8.30; and running so late as 7.20pm from Ryde and 8pm from Shanklin. There will be only two trains each way on Sundays. All the chief points as to the trains will be modified by experience; for instance, we suspect it will be found that the earliest trains must be from Shanklin, in order to save the early up trains to London, and the latest trains must be from Ryde to convey passengers by the late trains down from London. Passengers, newspapers, parcels, (especially of perishable commodities) by the early down trains from London will reach the Undercliff shortly after 1. The fares seem to us very reasonable, viz. Ryde to Shanklin, 1s 8d. first class, 1s. second class, 8d. third class; return first class 2s 6d, second class 2s 6d. The coach fare to Ventnor will be 1s each way; so that a return, second-class ticket to Ventnor, all charges included, will be only 4s, but of course, till the line be opened throughout there will only be sufficient coach service to meet the principal London up and down trains. The chief advantage, however, of the line will be in the saving of time: for instance, a person may leave Ryde at 5pm and go to Shanklin, where he may have two hours-and-a-half for business or pleasure and return by the 8pm train, and be home at 8.30pm. We are aware that this description is very tantalising, and our object is merely to afford all the information in our power, for the public are becoming exceedingly impatient; and, to allay such impatience so far as in our power, we may state that the contractor has 710 men on his books in order to complete the work speedily. To conclude: we have every reason to believe that, early in the ensuing week, the opening day will be announced, and the sooner the better.