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483007 ‘Jess Harper’

Following retirement after 80 years of service, unit 483007 has started a new life in preservation at Havenstreet.

History of 483007

The unit was built by Metro Cammell in 1940 for London Underground. Known as the ‘1938 stock’ this standard design eventually numbered nearly 1,300 carriages that saw service on the Northern, Bakerloo, Piccadilly, East London and Central lines. With their robust construction and Art Deco styling, they were well suited to carrying millions of passengers on an intensive service. After nearly five decades of service in the capital, the last units were eventually retired by London Underground in 1988.

 

In 1989, ten sets were purchased from London Underground and extensively refurbished at Eastleigh works for use of the Isle of Wight. The units were re-wired so they could use the third rail, rather than London Underground’s four-rail system. They were formed into 2-car sets that were intended to run in trains of 2, 4 or 6 carriages. When the new trains arrived, painted in smart Network South East livery, they looked very modern in comparison to the even older former Underground trains that they replaced. Already the oldest trains on the network when they arrived on the Island, the renumbered Class 483 were to see a remarkable further thirty years service, shuttling between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin. As passenger numbers fell, and maintenance became a bigger issue, the size of the fleet was reduced, and 2-car operation became the norm.

Unit 007 was out of service for three years for an extensive overhaul, but returned to traffic in December 2020, being named ‘Jess Harper’ in honour of a long-standing employee at Ryde St John’s Road works who had kept the Class 483 in service throughout his long career. Just a few week’s later, the set was used for the last time on 3 January 2021, prior to the line’s temporary closure for upgrade work. By the end, these veteran trains had notched up over 80 years of service.

 

Preservation at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway

The historic importance of the Class 483 was recognised by the Railway Heritage Designation Board who stipulated that some of the class should be preserved. Unit 007 was generously donated to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and is now on display in our Train Story Discovery Centre. On board videos tell the story of the electrified Ryde to Shanklin line. The train’s preservation means that the railway’s collection of carriages spans over 150 years, from the opening of the line in 1864 to the present day.

In the short to medium term 483007 will remain as a static exhibit, however the longer term aim is for it to run on the line. In the absence of an electrified third rail we’ll need to be creative in how the unit is powered. Batteries or a diesel generator have been mooted; however being hauled by one of our diesel locomotives is the most likely option.

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