LATEST..          The Oldbury Carriage featured in the CH4 Great Rail Restoration Programme is now on Show in our C&W Workshop at Havenstreet - see blog for further details and catchup link          All operating days and events can be found on our YOUR VISIT - Timetables page          BOOKINGS for our SANTA and BOXING Day events 2018 and NEW YEAR'S DAY 2019 are already being taken. Please note that these events now have to be pre-booked and seating is allocated         
  • Loco_Ops_Feb_14_20


•service update•


No Trains Today

Saturday 01 December


Christmas and New Year Operating

WD192 ‘Waggoner’ was in service on all of our winter timetable running days, heading the Santa, Mince Pie and Hangover Specials.  ‘Ajax’ was in service on the ‘Santa Special’ days with the arduous task of hauling the ‘North Pole Shuttle’, consisting of a PMV and the Shark Brake Van, bringing the presents from the North Pole (apparently located somewhere behind the Train Story building!) into the station for Santa’s helpers to carry around to the grotto and the waiting children.  In reality, this undemanding duty allowed ‘Ajax’s new slide valves a gentle period of running in.

Fireman Steve Castle lights up WD192 on Christmas Eve.
The glory of steam!  Steve Smart rakes out 'Waggoner's ashpan during preparation duties on 21st December 2013.
'Ajax' and 'Waggoner' ready to go on the morning of a wet and windy 21st December, a day that was typical of many during the winter running period.
As Christmas approached the weather went from bad to worse; a mix of gale force winds and driving rain battered the Island and made for some quite uncomfortable days for the footplate crews.  Surprisingly, given the harsh and wet conditions, ‘Waggoner’ was able to keep a firm grip on the rails so our drivers were not excessively challenged by episodes of slipping.  On the worst of the bad weather days the crews had to contend with rain sheeting horizontally across the footplate, as ever particularly bad across Ashey Grounds and at Smallbrook Junction.  Although our footplates are reasonably well protected from the weather, when faced with such stormy conditions there are very few hiding places when out on the road!

The stormy weather brought other consequences for the railway; on 23rd December the first two carriages of the last train of the day were damaged and some passengers were unfortunately slightly injured when the train came into contact with the branch of a fallen tree in Whitefield Woods, the incident has been reported elsewhere on this website.  All of the train crew responded well to the incident, which was dealt with safely and as efficiently as the circumstances allowed.

Driver Tony French takes WD192 'Waggoner' off shed.
'Ajax' at the head of the North Pole Shuttle.
Steve Smart acknowledges the 'Right Away' for another Santa Special run to Smallbrook.
The winter operating season is now behind us and no public trains will be running until March, although Havenstreet Station will be open to visitors during the February Half Term.  This does not mean that the Locomotive Operating Department goes to sleep for three months!  A number of our team also work in the Mechanical Engineering department, helping with the vital winter maintenance programme for the working steam fleet and also contributing to the overhauls of W11 and 41298.  Although much of the work takes place during the week, Team  Terrier and Team Ivatt can be found at work on most Sundays.  Locomotive Superintendent Len Pullinger is also pushing ahead with the refinement of our training and competence management systems.
It's Christmas!  Fireman Roger Millward gets in the spirit.
Fireman Graham Farrar during a very wet day on the North Pole Shuttle.
North Pole Shuttle Guard Malcom Hector and Fireman Chris Parish shelter from the rain on 'Ajax's footplate.

Looking Forward - The 2014 Operating Season

The 2014 operating season gets underway in March with trains running on Sundays only during that month.  From April onwards the number of running days steadily increases, leading to a high season of 7 day a week running from June through to September.  In addition to ‘routine’ running days the railway’s Special Events programme will involve some out of course activity, which will add interest for our footplate crews; there is also the possibility of 3 charter days, although details are not yet in the public domain.  As mentioned in the last edition, we have the prospect of Terrier W11 ‘Newport’ rejoining the operating fleet and of the first Isle of Wight steaming of Ivatt Class 2 41298 to look forward to.

The Department aims to deliver as many footplate turns as possible with volunteer staff, freeing up the railway’s full time engineering team to get on with their vital maintenance and overhaul programme; everyday one of them has to go out on the footplate is a lost day of workshop productivity!  If the aim is to be achieved, Roster Manager Alan Brindley will need maximum support from all members of the department.  Last year volunteer footplate days were on a high, let’s hope that we can keep up the momentum this year.  In a welcome boost to crew numbers, this year we welcome a number of Bluebell and Swanage Railway Enginemen onto our roster as Firemen.

Driver Tony French tops up the Westinghouse pump oil reservoir during a break between trains at Havenstreet.
Even volunteers look forward to signing off at the end of the day!  Driver Steve Smart does 'The Paperwork', the driver's report sheet, on completion of his turn.
WD192 'Waggoner' on shed after disposal on Boxing Day.


Training for footplate staff continued during the winter running period, a number of practical driver and fireman training opportunities were taken.  Once the 2014 running season commences in March the training programme will get underway again.

Steve Smart explains the lighting up procedure to Alex Hull, the railway's engineering apprentice.
Trainee Fireman John Kirkaldy during his Boxing Day training turn, joining steam heat pipes is easy once you get 'the knack'!
Santa is the IWSR's latest Driver, let's hope his Fireman doesn't get too warm!


To sustain the level of effort needed to fulfil all loco crew requirements throughout the year we are always on the lookout to recruit new members to the team.  New recruits can start out as Locomotive Cleaners, gaining essential knowledge and experience of locomotive and railway operations, those with the enthusiasm and aptitude have the opportunity to progress to Fireman via our work book based training programme.  If you are interested in joining our happy band there has never been a better time to make quick progress towards becoming an ‘Engineman’ – it’s a job title, ladies are more than welcome to join the team!

If you are considering joining the Locomotive Operating Department a useful first step is to attend one of the railway's Volunteer Recruitment Day, the next one will be held on Sunday 23rd March 2014 at Havenstreet Station, starting at 10.00am.  Come along, meet the team and find out how you can fit in.
The initial point of contact for aspiring Enginemen is the railway’s Volunteer Coordinator Alan Gaskin, he can be contacted at  volunteering@iwsteamrailway or by calling the railway on 01983 882204.