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© Channel 4

© Channel 4

I meant to write this post two or three weeks ago but I forgot all about it. You have two days only (tonight and tomorrow) to catch up on Channel 4 [the UK only] with a programme that ‘stars’ my family’s railway carriage and the writer of this blog!

Episode 2 shows the incredible work done by talented volunteers on restoring our Oldbury carriage which dates from 1864. It is part of a series called Great Rail Restorations with Peter Snow. Channel 4 bankrolled the series enabling four carriages around the country to be restored to their former glory. I am interviewed first by Henry Cole and then by Peter Snow.

I don’t think it will spoil the watching of it if I give you a little of the backstory, most of which is not included in the programme.

After the Second World War and with my maternal grandfather having been killed in 1940, my grandmother bought a house in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight which had a large garden and an overgrown orchard. At the bottom of this orchard was a dilapidated railway carriage. She later sold the house and garden leaving the path that led to the orchard and carriage. In the 1960s and early ’70s, this shabby beauty became the setting for all our childhood holidays. It was glorious. It felt and still does when I look back on those years like we were part of an exciting Enid Blyton adventure, not that I was ever very fond of Blyton. I was more of a ‘Chalet’ girl myself!

© Pete Jardine 1980s

© Pete Jardine 1980s – one of the passionate volunteers at Havenstreet

My brother and I were both grown and my grandmother in her grave when my parents decided in the mid-1980s to donate the carriage to the organisation that is now The Isle of Wight Steam Railway and replace it with a Scandinavian log house. The land and log house were sold by my brother in 2001; it saddens me greatly that this part of my history is no longer in the family.

It is my love of the Isle of Wight and the memories of those times that have brought me down here to live.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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