TRAIN STORY Discovery Centre
A truly impressive visitor experience...
An exciting addition to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s visitor experience, the Train Story Discovery Centre is a huge exhibition space, enabling the Railway's truly impressive historic collection of locomotives, Victorian and Edwardian carriages and other rare rolling stock to be available for visitors to see and enjoy at close quarters.
The Railway can now keep its unique collection of Isle of Wight rolling stock under cover when not in service, away from the harmful effects of sun, wind and rain, whilst remaining fully accessible to all.
An added bonus is the public access path which takes visitors through the Carriage and Wagon workshop and then passes through the heart of the engineer's yard before giving stunning new line side photograph vantage points.
The £1.2m Train Story project, grant funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, opened to the public in April 2014. Train Story now houses the vast majority of the Steam Railway's historic collection of locomotives, carriages and wagons, some of which date back 150 years to the birth of railways on the Island.
The completion of Train Story has allowed the Steam Railway to be open to visitors daily from spring through to late autumn and provides a fascinating insight into the experience of Victorian and Edwardian railway transport.
More than a storage shed...
More than simply a storage shed, Train Story aims to tell the story of the Isle of Wight’s railways, their place in the Island’s history. It illustrates how the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was conceived by a group of schoolboys in the 1960s, going on to develop into the impressive re-creation of the heyday of Island railways that it is today.
On entering Train Story, visitors pass through four interactive, scene-setting display areas:
Rebels with Rolling Stock – The story of Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s evolution from small beginnings in the mid 1960s, explaining how a determined bunch of young volunteers drove on to overcome many, seemingly insurmountable, challenges. Taking the story forward, Rebels with Rolling Stock explains how one of the most complete collections of railway history in Great Britain today was established at Havenstreet.
Once Unwanted, Now Unique – How the skilled staff and volunteers at Havenstreet go about restoring the unique locomotives, carriages and wagons.
The Island's Essential Railway Service – Taking you back to the 1950s and before to discover how the railway system provided nearly all the transport needs for the Island; travel to school, work and holidays. How food and other goods were transported from farm to factory and from port to village station. Also included is the story of how May Joyce joined the railway as a guard in World War 11 and later married an engine driver.
Preserving the Island's Heritage – Bringing the story of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's journey, from the vision of a small group of schoolboys to a nationally important museum of railway history, up to date.
Moving on from the entrance hall, visitors enter the main display area where they can get up close to many of our unique carriages, wagons and locomotives, some fully restored and others awaiting their turn for overhaul or initial restoration. Further interpretation displays tell the story of the Island‘s railways, its people, equipment and its importance to Island life before the motor car became the prevalent means of transport.
The Train Story project...
Train Story is the first major project to be delivered under the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's ‘Strategic Vision’
banner. Published in 2009, the ‘Strategic Vision’
sets out a framework of ideas and aspirations to take the railway forward for at least the next 20 years.
In order to take the Train Story concept forward, the railway applied for and was awarded a grant of £970,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund which, together with £150,000 partnership funding raised by the railway, has financed the whole project. Construction work commenced in September 2012 and was completed in Spring 2014.
The heart of Train Story is a four road storage and exhibition building, each road capable of storing four bogie coaches or their equivalent, with a total size of some 75 x 25 metres. This provides a hugely impressive covered storage and display facility for all of the Railway's restored locomotives, carriages and wagons, including items scheduled for completion during the next 10 years under the Heritage Lottery Fund assisted Carriage & Wagon restoration programme.
It is estimated that having our rolling stock under cover will halve the time currently spent on maintenance, which obviously means far more time will be available for our restoration teams to spend yet more time working on the preparation of more historic railway vehicles for further service on the railway. Another major benefit is that ‘Train Story’ has public access, giving visitors the opportunity to view the achievements of the Railway's restoration teams at close quarters. This is something which has not always possible in the past as, since the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was established at Havenstreet in 1971, our collection has been stored on various sidings around the site, often out of public view.
The ‘Train Story’ project is the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's largest and most ambitious undertaking since the three mile long extension to Smallbrook Junction was opened in 1991; it is a massively impressive achievement, a major step forward for the Railway and its visitors.