25th May 2003
The Rare Rods

Here are some photos taken on the day.

This event was the first to operate under the P.L.E.G. (Preserved Locomotive Enthusiasts Group) "banner" and gave the serious shunter-basher the chance to sample two quite rare locos - class 03 D2059 & class 05 D2554, both exiled on the Isle of Wight for many years.

Whilst most similar events have been "pay on the day" in this case the Isle of Wight Steam Railway preferred to guarantee the income and have a reasonable idea on the numbers that would attend so it was attendance by advance ticket sale (though, at the end, a pay-on-the-day ticket was also available, at a higher cost to the pre-sold tickets).

Three colleagues and myself left Northampton at 7am and had reached Portsmouth by about 9.15am, time to catch "Fast Cat Shanklin" over the water to the Isle of Wight. We were all quite pleased to be offered a "family ticket" covering the sea crossing and a day rover (trains/buses) on the island, saving us about 3.50 each compared to purchasing individual tickets.

Units 006 & 008 were waiting for us at Ryde Pier Head and these were taken the short distance to Esplanade station. Here it was time for some sustenance though an initial look out did not reveal any promising looking eating establishments open for business. An amusement arcade we passed however also included a small area serving food & drink and a very palatable toasted sandwich was obtained at very reasonable cost.

Unit 007 (in "heritage" London Underground livery) was bashed to Pier Head station then all the way to Smallbrook Junction. This station is the change-point for trains on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and their train soon arrived, headed by Army steam loco 198 "Royal Engineer".

With something around 100+ of us out for the gronks the train was rather well filled. Many of us got off at Haven Street whilst some stayed on to Wootton & back. Our own chartered four coach train was waiting at Haven Street with black liveried D2059 at the head.

After a few photos we set off and made a round trip of the line, first to Wootton then back to Smallbrook Junction and return to Haven Street. Many of us were impressed with the efficiency with which the IoWSR staff ran the 03 round - though perhaps a little quick for all of us to get our photos!

Back at Haven Street and the 03 put the coaches away then it was time for the lines class 05 to perform. On two brake vans a series of rides up to a headshunt and back were made. This was a well organised affair with everyone getting at least one ride and a well-ordered queuing system in effect.

Although the 03 was rostered to make another mainline trip, many of us (my colleagues and myself included) took our leave and caught the 14.15 departure to Smallbrook Junction (198 again) then took the chance to sample some more miles from the ex-LUL underground trains which ply the remaining line between Ryde and Shanklin. I suspect the second run was rather empty, though it was no doubt useful for anyone who wasn't able to arrive early enough to get it on the morning run.

For the four of us a well-timed arrival back at Ryde Pier Head dropped us straight on to the other catamaran ("Fast Cat Ryde") for the run back to Portsmouth. A reasonably empty motorway system saw us back in Northampton around 6.30pm. The rather changeable weather during the day was unfortunate but did little to dampen the enthusiasm of those who made the effort to attend.

In all an excellent event - well done to all those involved in the organisation and execution of the days event!

Gary Thornton.

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