Ryde Pier Tram returns to the Isle of Wight

Start typing Isle of on these pages and the next word is usually Man but not this time as we are heading south to the Isle of Wight – in the English Channel instead of the Irish Sea! – where they have just welcomed back a 1927 Ryde Pier Tram after restoration work at Alan Keef of Ross-on-Wye – no strangers to these pages having been involved in restoration work of the Volk’s Electric Railway vehicles of course – with it now on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway under test.

The Ryde Pier Tramway was operated between 1864 and 1969 with from 1927 it being operated by petrol engined railcars (later converted to diesel engines). Before 1927 it had been run by horse, steam and electricity (with the introduction of electricity in 1886 making the line a pioneer in its use). It is one of the latter petrol/diesel powered railcars which was saved for preservation in 1968.

No. 2 was initially purchased by the Island Vintage Transport Group and after remaining on the Pier was moved to Newport. After a period of undercover storage it had to be stored in the open which led to a deterioration in its condition. Doors, windows and fittings were removed and put into storage but much of the remainder of the body was scrapped leaving just a chassis, engine and running gear.

The vehicle was used to transport materials around Newport Station for around a year and when the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was set-up at Havenstreet but it fell into disuse as other priorities were found. It remained stored for nearly 40 years until 2011 when a plan was formulated to return it to service and the Steam Railway’s Board accepted the plan with an appeal launched for funds.

The restoration of the tram was contracted out with Graham Morris Engineering designing the chassis and construction taking place by A.J. Lowther & Sons Ltd. A new 40D diesel engine was donated by Perkins Engines (a more powerful engine than had been fitted with it ran on the Pier for operational reasons) and then Alan Keef Ltd came on board to assemble the running chassis.

As well as the more powerful engine a few other modern additions have been made to the new tram. This includes the provision of a driving position at each end (originally the driver had to drive from one end in both directions), at least in the short-term as when a replica trailer is constructed this will have a driving position too.

After several years of hard work at Alan Keef Ltd where all the parts of no. 2 had been put back together it returned to the Isle of Wight on 25th June 2021. It will now undergo testing and driver familiarisation before considered for service. No decisions have yet been made on how the tram will be operated on the Steam Railway.



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