The railway crosses the Ryde to Newport road and as the train enters Havenstreet Station the fireman exchanges the single line token with the signalman - giving up the Smallbrook/Havenstreet Tablet and collecting the Key Token inscribed Havenstreet/Newport. This is the driver's authority to enter the Wootton Single Line for the next stage of the journey.
Havenstreet is the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's focal point. The platform and station buildings incorporating the signal box were constructed by the Southern Railway in 1926, the station becoming the passing place for all trains between Ryde and Newport. Trains still pass here on high season days when a two train service is being operated. A water tower, brought from Newport Station in 1971, is located alongside the Up platform; all trains in the Smallbrook direction take water here before they depart.
Havenstreet has facilities which will be of considerable interest to family groups and railway enthusiasts alike. Located beside the former Gas Retort House, originally built in 1886 to supply gas to the village of Havenstreet, is a well stocked souvenir shop with a wide variety of items including an impressive selection of railway- related mementoes as well as a comprehensive range of Island- related railway publications.
Entered from inside the shop is a museum of Island Railway History containing many and varied artefacts from the past including a collection of locomotive name and number plates.
The Carriage and Wagon Workshop, constructed with Heritage Lottery Funding and opened by The Queen in 2004, is located here. It has a viewing gallery which is accessed through the railway shop. If you would like to know more about the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's unique collection of rolling stock click HERE
The Mechanical Engineering Workshop, where the locomotive fleet is maintained, is located adjacent to the platform. Locomotives awaiting their next turn of duty are often to be seen standing on the 'Shed Roads', close to the coal stage. More information about the locomotive fleet can be found HERE
On the opposite side of the line the signalbox is located inside the station building and the signalman can be seen at work through the front windows. For those seeking refreshment the Railway's Refreshment Room has an extensive menu and an excellent children's play area located to the rear. A short Woodland Walk is accessed from the play area.
Back on the platform, with a flourish of his green flag the Guard gives the engine crew the 'Right Away' to depart for Wootton. The engine gets the train underway and immediately encounters a stiff 1 in 68 climb towards Briddlesford Bridge, which can be seen in the distance.
As the train leaves Havenstreet an extensive array of sidings holding a variety of carriages, engineer's wagons and other vehicles awaiting restoration or repair can be seen. Alongside the sidings a grounded carriage body is home to the Civil Engineering Department; you can find out more about their role by clicking HERE
or by visiting their monthly On Line newletter Track Pack.
As the bridge is reached the gradient eases and the locomotive's regulator is eased back for the long straight section through Briddlesford Copse. This is home to dormice and the rare Bechstein bat, while the lineside will show splashes of colour with primroses, wood anemones, lungwort and bluebells, then autumn tints, all changing with the seasons. We pass the Forest Crossing and the Havenstreet Up Distant signal along the way - Goods trains were once required to stop and pin down brakes at this point before descending towards Havenstreet.
As the train bursts out of the copse Woodhouse Crossing is encountered from where a path leads through to Wootton Creek. On the left there is pastureland, but soon we are into a cutting, usually spotted with badger setts. The blast from the loco is sharper now as we tackle the final uphill stretch, known to railwaymen as the ‘Long Curve’and which is built on an embankment. The Wootton Down Distant Signal comes into view and shortly afterwards the train rolls across Packsfield Crossing, the Driver shutting off steam ready to stop at Wootton Station.