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The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is a beautifully restored section of the old Ryde and Newport Railway (later part of the Isle of Wight Central Railway).

The Isle of Wight has always been the home to other railways' castoffs; a tradition that continues to this day on the Ryde to Shanklin line were the former London Underground 1938 tube trains have recently been replaced with refubished LT 'D' Stock units.

On the heritage line, a lot of the equipment and buildings are either original to the line, or in keeping with how it would have looked (although, no doubt, in a much better state of preservation and maintenance).

The oldest engine, A1X (Terrier) Class 0-6-0T No W8 Freshwater, dates back to 1876 and its most modern carriage was built in 1924. With so many preserved railways relying heavily on post-war BR Mk 1 coaching stock and Standard Class locomotives, it is a refreshing change to come across some real museum pieces still in running condition.

As with so many heritage lines, the only problem is the short (8.8km or 5½ miles) of relatively level track. This give the engines little chance to show really their paces.

Check the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's website for opening times etc. It is worth pointing out that Smallbrook Junction at the eastern end of the line is only accessible by train, and that there is no road access to Ashey the next station up the line.