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Friday, May 14, 2010

Wed 12th May 2010 Merstone Station.

This week saw some 30 of us turn up on a beautiful (if slightly chilly) morning at Merstone Station. We have not visited this site for five years, and unfortunately the sofa we made out of soil and turfed over on our last visit, has succumbed to the ravages of the weather and had to be removed. This area is part of the Troll Trail which stretches from Shide to Merstone along the existing cycle track, and the site is managed by Gift to Nature, who have made a number of improvements to the wildlife meadow with new wildflowers and specialist management along with hand-carved picnic benches. There were two tasks for the group, the first of which was to put teak oil on the picnic benches and interpretation board to help preserve the structures. Our second task was to re-establish the maze, which was extremely overgrown and has almost disappeared. Using the diagram which had been provided for us we put a line of paint to show what the maze should look like, and set to with spades and picks to restore the shape. Once this was done we collected a lot of the original chalk used to mark the maze, and also barrowed (from the other end of the site!) some new chalk. We did not actually manage to put the chalk down as the job took quite a while and we just ran out of time - looks like it will be a return visit to the finish the job.

Carrie’s History Lesson

The station was known as Merstone Junction until 1911, and although the station originally had a single platform, with the opening of the Newport, Godshill and St Lawrence Railway in 1897, the station was rebuilt with an island platform. Its isolated position meant the station never generated much passenger traffic, and was at its busiest when passengers used the station to interchange between trains on the Sandown and Ventnor lines. The station was originally provided with a pedestrian subway for access but this was prone to flooding, so the Southern Railway replaced the subway with an access ramp. There was also a small goods yard to one side of the island platform, with the booking office located within the station house facing out onto the level crossing.

The Newport, Godshill and St Lawrence Railway was opened form Merstone to St Lawrence in 1897 and to Ventnor Town in 1900. This line was operated until 1913, and all the Island’s railways were absorbed into the Southern Railway in 1923. The service was upgraded with the introduction of new rolling stock and a revised timetable, and after nationalisation in 1948 Southern Railway became part of the Southern Region of British Railways. However, improved bus services and the popularity of the motor car led to dwindling passenger numbers, and the Merstone to Ventnor line was the first to close in 1952. The station was snowed under during the harsh winter of 1947 and the station itself was demolished after closure (see old picture of station).

Is there no end to Carrie's talents....? Cub reporter, photographer, nature expert and now a local historian..! Many thanks Carrie.:)

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