Tag Archives: attractions

Train Story Welcomes Its 25,000th Visitor

A family holidaying on the Isle of Wight from Romford in Essex received a special surprise yesterday (8th August) as they crossed the threshold of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s new Train Story Visitor Centre and, between them, took the total number of visitors to Train Story (which only opened in April) past the 25,000 mark!

Sian and Barrie Underwood and their two children Rhys, aged 7, and Phoebe, aged 4, were enjoying a day-long visit to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway when, after a trip on the steam train and a spot of lunch, they decided to visit Train Story. Upon entering they suddenly found themselves the centre of attention and being greeted by Train Story volunteer Guide Roger Fruen and Steam Railway General Manager Peter Vail. “We were monitoring the visitor count throughout the morning and knew the 25,000th visitor would be likely just after lunch”, said IW Steam Railway General Manager Peter Vail. “Sure enough, as the Underwood family from Romford stepped through the doors we passed through the 25,000 mark and we were able to make a special presentation to them!”

The occasion was marked by a presentation to the Underwood family with a bouquet, a bottle of bubbly and a whole package of goodies including IW Steam Railway Gift Vouchers.

As first time visitors to the Steam Railway, Sian Underwood said they had thoroughly enjoyed their day at the Railway and commented that they were ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the whole experience of the new Visitor Centre. “It wasn’t what we were expecting to find at this type of Heritage Railway,” she said. “But it’s been a fantastic way to find out some really interesting history and the children have really enjoyed it.”  Youngsters Rhys and Phoebe were particularly impressed by the model of the Railway’s flagship locomotive ‘Calbourne’, where Rhys dressed-up as an engine driver and enjoyed putting the ‘coal’ in the boiler!

“This is a significant milestone in the development of this major new attraction for our Railway, said Peter Vail. “We quietly opened Train Story just sixteen weeks ago in mid-April without too much fanfare, as some external work needed to be completed during the summer months. So to have already welcomed 25,000 visitors is really gratifying”.

Asked to sum up their visit Mr. and Mrs. Underwood said that the whole day had been a real treat and fantastic value, with the lovely bonus of the surprise presentation!

Background to the Train Story Project

The £1.2 million Train Story  project was built with the aid of a £970,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) together with funds raised from supporters of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The discovery centre has an interactive gallery and two exhibition halls of historic locomotives, carriages and wagons.

Train Story is a short stroll from the centre of Havenstreet Station and, on the way, visitors pass through the carriage and wagon workshop and loco yard, where the historic trains are restored and cared for. “Inside the discovery centre a timeline and interactive screens tell stories of the Island’s railways and how they have been restored”, said Chris Tagart, Interpretation Commissioner from the Steam Railway. “And along the walkway to Train Story is an unrestored carriage body which had a second life as a holiday chalet at Thorness after its working life on the railways came to an end in the 1930s”.

Work to locate the delicate carriage body needed to wait for the summer months. Pete Jardine, Design Coordinator, said “Now it is in position we are really pleased that the Le Maq family who owned the carriage whilst it was a chalet are restoring it to the 1950s style of their fondly remembered childhood holidays.”

Train Story is already a major addition to the attractions at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and entry is fully included in the Railway’s admission and travel ticket. To add to the visitor’s enjoyment, a guide or ‘interpreter’ is always on hand to answer any questions or to point out items of key interest. Linda Montgomery, Lead Interpreter, said, “The 150-year history of the Island’s once extensive railway system and the people who worked on it is really quite fascinating and often quite surprising. Train Story features interactive displays and film and audio from the heyday of the Island’s railways; and there’s very much something for everyone including opportunities to become a ‘locomotive driver’ in a half-scale model. Children from 2 to 102 can open the regulator, stoke the fire and even blow the whistle.”

Planning for the Train Story project started in 2008 as a means of protecting the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s historic collection of locomotives, carriages and wagons from the ravages of the weather, and displaying them to the 110,000 annual visitors to the Steam Railway.

Already proving very popular with visitors, Train Story opened in April this year and welcomes visitors daily until the beginning of November. Also visiting for the first time, Hazel White from Southampton summed-up the views of many, “The new Train Story building is great with lots of interactive things to do. The kids can dress up as a train guard, they can view some full sized restored trains and even go inside some of them.”

– ends-

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is located at Havenstreet Station (PO33 4DS) – 3 miles from Ryde and 3 miles from Newport – and operates a preserved 5-mile section of the former Ryde to Newport Railway. The Steam Railway runs trains on approximately 210 days each year, and stages around 25 Special Events each year.



Train Story is located within Havenstreet Station, and visits to Train Story are fully included in the railway’s general admission charge with no extra to pay.



Peter Vail, IW Steam Railway – 01983 882204 peter.vail@iwsteamrailway.co.uk

Steve Oates, IW Steam Railway – 01243 555959 or 07774 188930 steve@smo.me.uk


Mr. & Mrs. Sian and Barrie Underwood from Romford, Essex can be contacted via e-mail at bazzau73@gmail.com


The Railway Station, Havenstreet Station, Nr Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 4DS

For further information on the IW Steam Railway please go to www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk


News release issued by Stephen Oates 07774 188930

Travel through time on the Isle of Wight – Pick up a Time Traveller’s passport on board cross-Solent ferries

From today (Thursday 10th July) onwards, time travelling tourists visiting the Isle of Wight will receive their very own time-travel passport on board Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel ferries.


The Time Traveller’s passport, in association with Transformers: Age of Extinction, is being offered by Visit Isle of Wight, the Island’s tourist board, to encourage families to visit historic attractions and heritage sites linked to the Dinosaur era, Ancient Britain, the Roman Empire, Medieval times, the Tudors and Stuarts, the Victorians the present day and even experience an encounter with the Dinobot T-rex Grimlock, the new prehistoric robot character from the film.


Families will be able to collect the stamps from the locations highlighted in the passport, such as Dimbola Museum & Galleries, IW Steam Railway, Blackgang Chine, The Needles Park, The Needles New Battery, Osborne, Carisbrooke Castle, Brading Roman Villa, Dinosaur Isle, Shanklin Chine, Ryde Heritage Centre – and when travelling car free by bus or by train – for a chance to win fantastic prizes that include a holiday on the Isle of Wight and a trip to Paramount Studios in Hollywood, the home of Transformers: Age of Extinction.  Other prizes include free holiday travel, tickets to Island attractions, cinema tickets and merchandise from the film.


Visitors simply need to collect as many passport stamps as they can as they “time travel” around the Island and then when they get home, enter the codes they’ve collected into the Time Vault at www.dinoisland.co.uk to reveal their prize.


David Thornton, CEO, Visit Isle of Wight said: “This summer, the Isle of Wight is going to become one big time machine – from dinosaurs to rocket ships.

“Visitors will not only be enriched, but inspired with the scores of artefacts, diverse attractions and living history experiences as they come face to face with the Island’s past, present and future.”


The free 10-page Time Traveller’s passport can be obtained on board all cross-Solent ferries or by visiting Island tourist information points. 


Visitors can also create their own time trails set against the Island’s past, present and future by downloading the free Isle of Wight Tourist Guide app from www.visitisleofwight.co.uk




For further information, please contact:  Sue Emmerson, Isle of Wight Press Officer, Tel: 07766 705672, E-mail: sue@visitwight.co.uk


Notes to editors:


The Passport includes a list of attractions on the Island (“Stamp Locations”) at which the passport holder can get his/her passport stamped.   Visitors can also collect stamps for their time travel passport when travelling car free – by bus at Yarmouth and Ryde travel centres and by train at Ryde Esplanade and Shanklin stations. 


After collecting stamps, the Passport Holder must enter the codes they have collected (unique numbers which are incorporated into the stamp design) into the ‘Time Vault’ online at www.dinoisland.co.uk.    When they have entered the codes they have collected (they only need one to participate) they will be notified of which prize they have received.   Prizes include tourist attractions tickets (kindly provided by Stamp locations), free travel on and to the Island, cinema tickets, and the grand prize of a trip to Paramount Studios in Hollywood and a holiday to the Isle of Wight.


The passport holder only needs one stamp to enter the competition, but the more stamps that have been collected, the greater the chance of winning.


The campaign which invites visitors to discover the secret of Time Travel this summer, comes on the back of a new movie tie-in with Paramount Pictures, which launched Transformer’s Age of Extinction in the UK on July 5th.  It is the fourth instalment of the live action Transformers film series and introduces several new prehistoric robot characters, including the Dinobot T-rex Grimlock.


The Dinosaur Island augmented reality app launched last summer by Visit Isle of Wight is also being launched from July 10th to include an appearance by Transformers: Age of Extinction Dinobot.   The Dinosaur Island experience can currently be triggered at 6 meteorite locations around the Island and new sites are being added at The Needles, Blackgang Chine, The Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and even on board ferries to the Isle of Wight enabling visitors to ‘see’ dinosaurs flying overhead as they cross the Solent.


During the occupation by the Roman Empire 50 to 400AD the Island was called ‘Vectis’ and the word Vectis is still much in use on the Isle of Wight today. But the name was dropped when the Romans left in the 5th Century AD.


Visit Isle of Wight Ltd

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight.   As well as the consumer website (www.visitisleofwight.co.uk) the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities: www.visitwight.org




“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the fourth film in director Michael Bay’s global blockbuster franchise.  Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T. J. Miller, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor and Titus Welliver star.  The film begins after an epic battle that left a great city torn, but with the world saved.  As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history…while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs.  With help from a new cast of humans, Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet. In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle across the world.

Produced By Don Murphy & Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce.

Based on Hasbro’s Transformers™ Action Figures.  Written By Ehren Kruger. Directed By Michael Bay.


For further information please contact Jenny Erwood, Head of Publicity Paramount Pictures UK Theatrical, jenny_erwood@paramount.com


It’s shaping up for a superlative summer down on the Isle of Wight, especially if you have children to entertain. You can travel through time to the Island of Adventure and find fantastic fantasy worlds where anything is possible.

Actress Celia Imrie is the ‘voice’ of the Isle of Wight in our new TV advert enticing UK holiday-makers to visit the Island and to journey back in time by following a new Time Travel trail with the Transformers: Age of Extinction film that was launched on July 5th. Following in the giant footsteps left behind by Dinosaurs last year, the Isle of Wight is capitalizing on the new Transformers blockbuster, starring Mark Wahlberg and introducing several new prehistoric robot characters, including the Dinobot T-Rex Grimlock.

Pick up Your Passport

First of all you pick up your Time Traveller’s passport from your ferry or an IW Tourist Information point and your journey back to the future with the help of a new Time Travel app begins.

Visit the historic attractions and heritage sites in your passport that are linked to the Dinosaur era; Ancient Britain; the Roman Empire; Medieval times; the Tudors and Stuarts; the Victorians; the present day; and a Dinobot Hunt set in the future and you could win prizes by collecting stamps at each location. These include tickets to Isle of Wight attractions, free holiday travel, cinema tickets, merchandise and a visit to Paramount studios in Hollywood plus a holiday on the Isle of Wight.

Dinosaurs of Blackgang Chine

Winners of Trip Advisor’s prestigious ‘Certificate of Excellence 2014’ for the second year running for consistently achieving outstanding traveller reviews on the TripAdvisor website, Blackgang Chine now boasts huge life-size moving dinosaurs in their new ‘Restricted Area 5’. An Iguanadon, a Stegosaurus, screeching Raptors, an Argentinosaurus bigger than a double decker bus and the most gargantuan T Rex ever seen all make their own distinctive sounds and react to the visitors.

The park’s resident celebrity baby Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs, Shadow and Sheila, delight the crowds with their ‘LIVE’ performances during the summer holidays and there are new baby dino friends to meet: Jack & Jill, the walking Procomsognathus dinosaurs, George, the baby Brachiosaurus and ‘Caulkie’ the mischievous Caulkicephalus. www.blackgangchine.com

Victoria lives at Osborne House

It is the Victorian era that is brought to life at Osborne House with a new exhibition at the Swiss Cottage and games and dressing up on the beach. ‘Small Adventures for Royal Children’ lets you join a Victorian explorer for tales of adventure and bravery and go on a bug hunt for exotic flora and fauna. You can let your little soldiers run off some energy in the rifle drills and hobby horse relays or watch the antics of Mr Punch and his wife Judy at their seaside show. Take a dip in the Solent and enjoy a game of quoits or skittles with a delicious Isle of Wight Minghella ice cream from the café. www.english-heritage.org.uk/Osborne or telephone 01983 200022

All Eras at IW Steam Railway

Kids go for free at the IW Steam Railway throughout August and you can time travel from the Victorian era to the swinging sixties on board one of their lovely locomotives. Special themed weekends help to take you back in time such as the Victorian Weekend of August 2nd and 3rd, the Jaguar Classic Car Show on August 10th and Island Steam Days on the same day, which celebrates 1940s lorry travel and freight travel throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

The 40th Island Steam Show from August 22nd to 25th is a fabulous family day out and 150 years of Steam Travel is celebrated at the station on August 30th. http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk/events.aspx

Beautiful Bicycle Island

Whether you’re a Mamil (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) or a mummy whose bike has a basket on the front Bicycle Island – Isle of Wight – is one of the best places in the country to discover from the saddle of a bike. Take the whole family on a cycling holiday around the Island’s 500 plus miles of cycle and bridleways that weave their way through our dramatic and contrasting landscapes.

This year Bicycle Island has added new cycle ways, bike-carrying buses, additional bike hire, baggage transfer, and new cycle parking across the Island, to make your Isle of Wight cycling holiday even easier. The Isle of Wight recently scooped top spot in Lonely Planet’s “Top 10 World Cycling Routes.” http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/bicycle-island

Enchanted Evenings

The Needles Park at Alum Bay is world renowned for its coloured sands, the stunning chalk stacks of the Needles and the ski style chair lift that takes you down to the beach and back. For five weeks only the park is open late every Thursday for a non-stop party of games, live music and street entertainment, with a spectacular music and fireworks finale lighting-up the skies above the Needles from 9:30pm.

Music and Magic in the Skies takes you to the Rio Carnival in Brazil on July 31st, the 1970s on August 7th, to Children’s Movies on August 14th, to Space on August 21st and has a special Christmas theme on August 28th. http://www.theneedles.co.uk/events.php

Robin Hill hosts Bestival in September but on balmy summer holiday evenings the woods are transformed into a magical realm of light and sound with the Electric Woods from dusk until 10pm and rides and attractions open late into the evening.

Fridays at Robin Hill are ‘Days of Adventure’ and visitors are offered the chance to ‘test their aim’ at archery and ‘get hands on’ with fire lighting and survival skills as part of their Bushcraft Activities. For those with a wilder side there are also mountain boarding taster sessions. Robin Hill, sister attraction to Blackgang Chine as also achieved a Trip Advisor ‘Certificate of Excellence for the second year running. http://www.robin-hill.com/events




For further information, please contact:   Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, Tel: 01983 201048, 07766 705672, E-mail: sue@visitwight.org




Enjoy Matris Diem on the Isle of Wight this year

Mums can be treated to a Roman holiday, a rare plant, a steam train ride, hand-made jewellery, and an afternoon combined with pottery making on the Isle of Wight this Mother’s Day.

An ideal destination for a short-break or a long-day away from the mainland, the Island has lined-up a host of special treats for March 30th – including a Roman Mothering Sunday, Matris Diem, at Brading Roman Villa.  The entrance cost of £15 per adult and £7.50 for children includes entrance to the Roman Villa and the current exhibition which is being run there in tandem with the British Museum.  So, as well as being able to enjoy a special three-course meal menu, visitors will also be able to see the world famous Warren Cup which featured recently on BBC TV’s “History of the World in 100 Objects”.  For full details, visit http://www.bradingromanvilla.org.uk.

Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight, meanwhile, has one of the most unusual gifts of all for mums, this Mother’s Day – a rare plant that has been carefully propagated at the world famous gardens.  All mums who dine at Ventnor Botanic Garden on March 30th will be eligible for the rare gift following a lunch, prepared by new head chef, Graham Walker.  Since starting at Ventnor Botanic Gardens in January, Graham has been creating menus using only the freshest, local (including Ventnor Botanic Garden’s own) ingredients.  His Mother’s Day menu includes Island smoked salmon, roast saddle of lamb, locally caught cod, Isle of Wight cheese, and baked lemon tart.  Two courses are £23.50 per person, and three courses are £27.50 per person, and with complimentary entry, the whole family can stroll around the Garden before sitting down to enjoy their meal.  Booking is essential, and details can be found at http://www.botanic.co.uk.

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is also planning a special day out for Sunday, March 30th – a steam train journey through the countryside, followed by lunch in the railway’s vintage refreshment rooms.  To make her journey even more memorable, every mum will receive a free bunch of spring flowers.  Tickets, which include Steam Train Fares can be bought on the gate [Adults £12.00, Children (5-15) £6.00, Infants (0-4) free, Families £30.00 (2 Adults and 2 Children)].  Discounts are available by buying in advance, online at http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk.

Other, creative options on Mother’s Day on the Isle of Wight include a Sunday afternoon tea, for just £12.50 per person, at Chessell Pottery where mums accompanied by their children will not be charged a studio fee to paint a piece of pottery as a memento of a special day.  Booking is essential.  Visit http://www.chessellpotterybarns.co.uk for further details.

Quay Arts Centre in Newport on the Isle of Wight, meanwhile, has come-up with another bright idea – by hosting a jewellery-making course on the weekend prior to Mother’s Day, when Melanie Swan will be teaching participants how to make delicate silver beads for pendants or earrings, with precious Metal Clay.  The course runs from 10am to 4pm and cost £56 per person.  For full details, visit http://www.quayarts.org.

Many of the Island’s leading hotels and restaurants are also offering Mother’s Day lunches and dinners.   Why not stay over in a cosy B&B, a premier hotel or one of the Island’s superb self-catering properties, such as Appuldurcombe Gardens Holiday Park near Ventnor?  Surrounded by beautiful open countryside and just minutes by car from the superb beaches of Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor, the holiday park was originally part of the grounds of the nearby historic Appuldurcombe House. http://www.appuldurcombegardens.co.uk/

Anyone wanting further details of where to stay and how to reach the Island should visit http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk.



For further information, please contact:

Sue Emmerson, Isle of Wight Press Officer

Tel: 07766 705672

E-mail: sue@visitwight.co.uk