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It's not just humans that go away for a holiday these days, steam locomotives do too!

August being the prime month for holidays, loco No. 473, 'Birch Grove', packed her oilcans and set off on Thursday 12th August 1999 for a holiday in the Isle of Wight. Hers was to be more of a busman's holiday (if you'll pardon the expression) as she was paying a visit to friends at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

IOW Crest

The IOWR runs for some five and a half miles through quite delightful scenery, from a shared station with the Island Line at Smallbrook Junction in the east to Wooton in the west, with a halt at Ashey and the Railway's main station and passing place at Haven Street. It is their hope that one day soon they will be able to re-instate the junction and once again run their trains into Ryde St. Johns (though not through the tunnel and on to the pier as the trackbed in the tunnel has been raised so that the loading gauge is now too small for their rolling stock).

Not only would 'Birch Grove' be re-united with other ex-LBSC locos, but also an ex-LSWR Adams O2, along with various geriatric but lovingly cared for coaches originating from the LBSC, the LCDR, the NLR and the SECR. The following is a short photographic souvenier of her trip.

BG in Haven St Yard 18 Aug



(1) "Birch Grove" being well cared for in the loco yard at Haven Street station, the site of the IOWR's work and repair shops, on 18th August. Alongside her, with her smokebox door open, is IOWR No.W11, "Newport", an ex-LBSC Terrier built in 1878 and sister of our "Fenchurch" and "Stepney"

BG in Haven St Yard 18 Aug



(2) Another view of her in the Haven Street Yard on the same day. In this shot you can see the IOWR's other "Terrier", No.W8, "Freshwater" behind "Newport".

BG on Train at Haven St 19 Aug



(3) Getting down to business! Here is "Birch Grove" on a train at Haven Street on 19th August.

BG on Train at Haven St 19 Aug



(4) ..... and facing the "right way" on the return journey.

BG on Train nr Ashey 19 Aug



(5) Out in the Country! "Birch Grove" and train in the sylvan landscape near Ashey Halt.

BG on Train nr Ashey 19 Aug



(6) .....and the return journey from Smallbrook Junc. captured near the same spot.

BG on Train leaving Haven St 20 Aug



(7) Pulling away from Haven Street on a train for Wooton on Friday, 20th August.

BG arriving at Wooton 22 Aug


(8) Arrival at Wooton the following Sunday, the second day of the IOWR's "Rail Gala Weekend". "Birch Grove", hauling the appropriately named "The Tourist", slows as she enters Wooton station with the 2.02 pm service from Smallbrook Junc. Her train consists of four coaches, No.4145 ex-SECR Brake Third of 1911, No.2416 ex-LBSC Third of 1916, No.6349 ex-SR Composite of 1924 (built to LBSC specification) and No.4149 ex-LBSC Brake Third, which is also of 1911.

BG at Wooton 21 Aug


(9) Having run round her train, "Birch Grove" awaits departure time with the 2.27 pm service for Smallbrook Junc. The leading coach displays some destinations unfamiliar to our E4!

BG and Freshwater at Haven St 21 Aug


(10) At Haven Street later the same afternoon. "Birch Grove" is arriving with the 3.02 pm Smallbrook Junc. to Haven Street only, whilst "Newport" waits in the Up Loop platform with the 2.57 pm from Wootton to Smallbrook Junc. The large green pole that makes photographers' lives a nightmare is the support for the Haven Street Water Tower! Between "Birch Grove" and "Newport" is the Haven Street Level Crossing. The gates are open for "Birch Grove" to enter the Down Loop platform, but closed in front of "Newport", whose stock is even older than "Birch Grove's". She has behind her (but out of the picture!) No.4112 ex LCDR Brake Third of 1898, No.6369 ex-LCDR Composite of 1887, No.6336 ex-NLR Composite of 1864 (the oldest coach on the island) and finally No.2343 ex-LBSC Third of 1896. An average age of almost 113 years!

BG and Freshwater at Haven St 21 Aug


(11) After the 3.15 pm departure of "Newport" and her train, "Freshwater" shunted "Birch Grove's" train from the Down Loop to the Up Loop, then "Birch Grove" came on the front to form the double-headed 3.45 pm departure for Smallbrook Junc. The destination board proclaiming Wootton is obviously there to confuse any fifth columnists in the area!

BG arriving Smallbrook Jcn 21 Aug


(12) "Birch Grove" leads her smaller cousin into the platform upon arrival at Smallbrook Junc.

BG leaving Smallbrook Jcn 21 Aug


(13) Having run round their train, "Freshwater" and "Birch Grove" are just departing with the 4.02 pm service to Wootton.

If you would like to see further pictures of "Birch Grove" in the Isle of Wight you can access them on Lewis Nodes' photos page.

Or click here for further details of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Go to the Web Page for Birch Grove

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and 4 April 2023 by Richard Salmon.

Text Copyright © Peter Richards.
Photographs 1 to 7 © Lewis Nodes and 8 to 13 © Peter Richards.
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