Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight Trip – Day 6 (Tram Line on Ryde Pier)

There are three parallel structures which run to the end of Ryde Pier, one takes the railway, another takes the road and pedestrian walkway and the final one is the remains of the old tram line. Some of the tram line structure was demolished when the service fell out of use, although it has been used as a temporary walkway when the main walkway needed to be restored.

The tramway, as indicated above, ran along the pier from 29 August 1864 until 26 January 1969. Initially the tram was powered by horses, then steam and then finally it was transferred to an electric system. The tram was designed to maximise capacity and there was a driver’s carriage at only one end, meaning it had to be reversed back along the line.

Although one of the tram carriages was kept after the service ended, the storage conditions were poor and it’s in quite a state. The island’s steam railway has a project to bring the carriage back into use, but as they note, the carriage was designed to maximise capacity and not comfort, making it a problem for today’s health and safety requirements.

Although the tram carriage itself is likely to be brought back into use once it’s restored, there are no plans to reinstate the former track along the pier. The condition of this is poor and I can only begin to imagine how much it would cost to bring it back into use. However, at least there is a train service in operation, so there remains a public transport option on what must be one of the few trains to operate along a pier in Europe.