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Sat 20 March, 2021 @ Sat 20 March

Saturday 24th January – Saturday 20th March 2021

OFF THE RAILS Exhibition

Celebrating 50 Years of Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet

Sun 24th Jan – Sat 20th Mar 2021

Due to current government restrictions we are bringing OFF THE RAILS to you online! We are busy developing a series of virtual gallery tours and artist talks to make our visual arts programme as accessible as possible, so you can experience arts and culture at home. Watch this space for more online content coming soon!

In OFF THE RAILS, we’ve partnered with IW Steam Railway to celebrate their 50th anniversary moving from Newport to Havenstreet, by showing artefacts, signs and memorabilia from their collection as well as related objects and artworks from IW Heritage Service Collection and enamel works from AJ Wells & Sons.

The first of the Island lines opened in 1862 between Cowes and Newport, but it was not until 1900 that Ventnor received its second railway and the Island rail complex was complete. However, by the mid 20th century, after two World Wars and a lengthy depression, it was not surprising that rural branch lines came under the spotlight and their economic status was in question. The 1950’s saw lines to Bembridge, Freshwater and Ventnor, all closed.

The Island’s steam hauled railways were becoming a sad reflection of their former glory but still retaining a fascination for historians and enthusiasts as the Island’s isolation had seen the retention of antiquated locomotives and carriages, most of which had arrived as hand-me-downs from the mainland. It was then, on Sunday 24th January 1971, at 8.30pm, the last steam train rumbled across the Medina Drawbridge, Newport, high above the river and its quays, ending a chapter in the Island’s transport history, and thus, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was born.

As part of this exhibition, artist educator Ian Whitmore has been working with Island schools, Oakfield Primary and Gurnard Primary to create work in response to the collection and will be displayed alongside the heritage works, along with contemporary artworks by 12 Island artists, responding to ideas around notions of preservation, displacement and memory, and some wider themes on travel, engineering and movement.

Artists include: Archie Yates, Caroline Underwood, Cat James, Chris Hicks, David Rodford, Gillian Hawkins, Mark Chettle, Michael Bruzon, Sandy Kendall, Sarah Vardy, Steve Miles and Vicky Fellows. Works include animation, photography, painting, mixed media, print, writing and installation, giving this exhibition a rich, contemporary feel, whilst retaining the narrative of the Island’s Steam Railway history.


West Gallery
Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm