Great Rail Restorations with Peter Snow

Blog by Peter Vail, General Manager, Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Our skilled team of craftsmen and engineers from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway will be starring in a new Channel 4 television series, ‘Great Rail Restorations with Peter Snow’, which will be broadcast from 8pm on 6th June 2018.

In each episode, Peter Snow challenges a heritage railway to undertake the complete restoration of a carriage in just six months, a job that would normally take four to five years. In 2016, the production company contacted the Railway to explain the format.

My first reaction was it was just impossible. But after some consideration we felt that the being able to restore a genuine Island carriage, of historical importance and be part of a national television series was just too good an opportunity to for us to miss.

Great Rail Restorations with Peter Snow

The Railway selected a carriage that was originally designed to run on the Isle of Wight and built by the Railway Carriage Company Limited of Oldbury near Birmingham. ‘Oldbury Number 10’ as it is called was built in 1864, making it the oldest of the projects undertaken for the programme. It’s one of a collection of six Oldbury carriages that have been rescued in various states of decay over the years and preserved awaiting restoration as a long-term ambition of the Railway.

The five episode programme commences on Channel 4 at 8pm on Wednesday 6th June and the episode featuring the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is screened at 8pm on Wednesday 13th June. The three other restorations all cover different eras. It will be presented by Peter Snow together with Henry Cole, who both became regular visitors to the Island over the six months of filming.

We are thrilled with the outcome. The programme demonstrates our team’s talent and skills. Added to this the Railway and the Island look just great.

Great Rail Restorations

5 things you didn’t know about the Isle of Wight Steam Railway

  1. When the last steam train service on the Island came to an end in 1966, a small group of railway enthusiasts got together and formed the Wight Locomotive Society to raise funds to preserve one of the last steam locomotives, W24 Calbourne, and a few other carriages. A deal was struck with British rail to purchase the locomotive ‘Calbourne’ for £900 – a lot of money at the time – and the rest, as they say, is history.  Over the years and after much hard work and perserverance, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is now enjoyed by more than 100,000 visitors each year – and following extensive repairs and a major boiler overhaul, Calbourne can still be enjoyed by today’s visitors.
  2. The Island once boasted some 55 miles of railway lines connecting the Island’s towns and villages. The first railway on the island ran between Cowes and Newport and opened in 1862. In the 1950’s various lines closed and all that is left now is the Island Line that runs for 8 miles between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin plus the Isle of Wight Steam Railway operating 5 miles of line between Smallbrook Junction and Wootton.
  3. Opened at Havenstreet station in 2014 is the Train Story Discovery Centre. This £1.2 million facility was supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and explains to visitors the fascinating history of railways on the Island. The entrance lobby contains a number of short films and interactive experiences for children to enjoy. The two large halls display much of the Railway’s unique collection of genuine Island locomotives, carriages and wagons.
  4. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is not just about trains! At the Havenstreet station twice daily Haven Falconry fly their wonderful collection of birds of prey. In addition, at the Railway is the Haven Falconry Bird of Prey Centre where many birds can be seen and the enthusiastic team are always on hand to speak about the birds and owls. Also on site is a lovely woodland walk, a comprehensive Railway shop and, of course the Refreshment rooms.
  5. Each year the Isle of Wight Steam Railway host up to 30 events. The annual Island Steam Show over the August Bank Holiday weekend has been an Island tradition for over 40 years. The 1940’s event is an opportunity to be immersed in the music, food and entertainment of the era. The Railway Folk is a children’s event full of interactive street theatre all created by the Railway’s General Manager! The October Wizard Week is a mass of Halloween fun.




  1. Dave
    Having watched the programme yesterday, I now feel the need for some scale drawings of this wonderful 4 wheel carriage so that I can make a model for my collection of antique rolling stock which is part of my model railway.
  2. Little Mo
    Have been watching the series and now we are booking a holiday to the Isle of Wight. Hope to visit the railway when we come in Sept.

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