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Ryde's historic tram to open to the public 90 years after it was last used

More than 90 years after an Island-built electric tram was last used to transport visitors up and down Ryde Pier, it will once again be back on public display at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

The 1889 Pollard Tram will be officially gifted next Thursday (18th of October), when the Leader of Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Stewart will present the tram to the Steam Railway.

The ceremony will be attended by a number of representatives of both the Council and the Steam Railway, who worked together in making this piece of Island transport history accessible to the public.

Peter Vail, General Manager of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to both display and allow our visitors access to this important piece of Island transport history. Indeed, we are grateful to the Isle of Wight Council who shared our vision and desire to again let the public enjoy this wonderful exhibit.”

This is the only surviving example of trams built by Pollard and Sons of Hill Street, Ryde and was designed to carry 20 passengers along the half mile of Ryde Pier to make ferry connections to the mainland, or just to enjoy the scenery.

After leaving service in 1927, it spent much of the last 90 years being used as a holiday chalet in Brighstone and even a chicken coop before being saved. In 1978, Mr Bernard Pratt bought it at auction for £2 and decided to present it to the Isle of Wight Council, which was able to undertake a cosmetic restoration, retaining many of its original features.

Cabinet member for environment and heritage, Councillor John Hobart, said: “We are delighted that the Ryde tram is once again on public display. The tram was donated to the council in the 1980s and it was restored by a talented team from a Manpower Services Commission project. The original donor requested that the tram was eventually put on display at Havenstreet and we are very grateful to the Steam Railway for finding space to accommodate the historic tram and making it accessible once again for people to enjoy.”

Peter Vail continued: “The overall experience evokes a charming slice of Isle of Wight life from more than a century ago. It will be the first time most people will have ever stepped onto an Island tram, as the pier tramway closed back in 1969.”

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway has also commissioned the restoration of a much later Drewery & Company diesel powered tram of the type that took over in 1927. It is hoped to have this tram in working order by 2019.


Photo credit: John Faulkner

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