THERE WAS A TIME when one could take a train from London to Portsmouth, cross the Solent by ferry to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and then take another train from Ryde to Ventnor. This was before 1966 when the station at Ventnor was closed forever. A century earlier, in 1866, this station opened to rail traffic. The closure was part of an extensive plan (devised by Dr Richard Beeching [1913-1985]) to reduce Britain’s railway mileage.
The station, the southern terminus of the isle of Wight Railway, with its associated sidings was located on the site of an old quarry. It was almost completely surrounded by high cliffs. Trains reached it from Shanklin by emerging from a 1312-yard-long tunnel running beneath St Boniface Down. It must have been dramatic emerging from the tunnel to find oneself in the space surrounded by vertiginous rocky walls.
Today, the entrance to the tunnel, through which water pipes now run, is hidden by dense foliage. Nothing remains of the tracks, and only a small part of the former station building (ticket office etc.) remains. The space once occupied by the platforms and railway lines is now occupied by an assortment of buildings, comprising an industrial estate. Trains still run between Ryde and Shanklin, but Ventnor station has all but vanished.