This month marks two very special milestones for rail travel on the Isle of Wight.
The Isle of Wight Ryde Pier and the Isle of Wight Railway turn 200 and 150 respectively this month and preparations are already well underway to celebrate these poignant landmarks. The Ryde Pier was first opened on July 26th 1814 while the railway has opened 50 years later in August 1864, Rail.co.uk reports.
Isle of Wight's first railway was a tram which transported passengers along the near half-mile pier in a shuttle service. The idea behind the tramway was to help relieve stress on the train network around the island. There had been previous attempts to introduce steam trams but they had not been successful so the electric models were favoured much more.
From July 1880 another pier was built to support the tracks and it provided direct rail connections with ships from across the island travelling to the likes of Cowes, Newport and Ventnor. Despite its long run, the Isle of Wight had to come to an end in 1969 after some of the pier was dismantled leaving a gap between the railway and road piers.
Since then there have been campaigns to reintroduce the tramway and they have been ongoing to raise the necessary funds to bring it back to life. The Isle of Wight Railway received a grant of £15,000 from the Association of Industrial Archaeology which has edged it closer to the £60,000 total needed to fully restore the railway.
To celebrate the anniversary of the pier and railway there will be events taking place in both July and August. Special events will be taking place at the old stations on August 30th giving people the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane while there will also be vintage display at Ryde St Johns Road with live radio from Sandown Station.