From Richard Newman, Ryde:

Some weeks ago a news item mentioned the possible redevelopment of the site at St Helens Duver occupied by a row of former railway carriages in use as beach huts.

They were certainly new to the Metropolitan Railway — distinguished by the round-topped compartment doors — but had, in addition, a local significance, for they were purchased from London by the IW Railway for use on the Ryde-Ventnor line in 1914.

Purchased in two batches of six and 12 at bargain prices, the carriages were to replace some of the line’s original rolling stock, also dating from the 1860s, but would have spent most of their time out in the elements rather than sheltered in tunnels beneath London like the Metropolitans.

The Metropolitan carriages ran until 1929, by which time the Southern Railway was operating the Island’s railways, and were then sold off with the bodies becoming farm sheds or chalets.

Twelve of the 18 found their way to St Helens and most, protected by additional wooden panels, still survive.

The best of them will certainly make useful historic additions to the unique pre-grouping rolling stock restored by the IW Steam Railway if they are to leave St Helens.

The Bluebell Railway in Sussex operates a set of restored Metropolitan Railway carriages on their Sheffield Park–East Grinstead line.