Ryde Pier is a fascinating historic structure, and the second-longest seaside pier in the country.
The original structure opened in 1814 and was extended in 1824 and by 1842 it had reached its current length of half a mile.
The pier is really three piers in one – the second was built in 1864 to support a horse-drawn tramway which ran from the pier head all the way through Ryde to provide a connection for steamer passengers with the original rail terminus.
In 1880, big mainland rail companies built the third pier to carry a double-track rail line from the pier head down to Ryde Esplanade then through a tunnel to join the original rail terminus. This opened up steam train travel to the ferries from all rail connected parts of the Island. Today, old electric London underground trains from the 1930s have replaced the steam trains.
The horse tramway was eventually cut back to its pier section between the promenade and railway piers, remaining in use operated by steam, electricity and petrol rail cars until 1969.
The tramway compromised of two parallel single tracks, each with a petrol-engine tram and trailer car. For thousands of holiday makers, the ride down Ryde Pier on the tram was their first experience of the Island.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway has recently launched an appeal to restore one of the two trams to full working order.
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