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Miniature Railway World Review of 2007; December Digest
Topic Started: 30 Nov 2007, 11:16 PM (10,395 Views)
MRW Digest
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The Miniature Railway World Review of 2007

By Colin Peake
with Peter Bryant, David Colley, Anthony Coulls, Tim Dunn, Craig Gluyas and Dom Greenop

Looking back at 2007 it has been a year of overall progress in the world of miniature railways, although sadly there have been one or two sad loses of both lines and personalities through he year.

I have been lucky enough to see a few projects at close quarters during 2007, those that spring immediately to mind are the extension of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and the handover of Scarborough's North Bay Railway to it’s new operating company. The North Bay Railway Company were granted a temporary license to operate the railway late in 2006, quickly moving extra locomotives to the line and operating weekend trains throughout the Winter. In March came the announcement that the company had secured a 10 year lease of the railway and were to implement a series of expansion plans and improvements. On the 30th of the month I attended a handover ceremony took place at Peasholme Park station, in front of BBC cameras, civic dignitaries and assorted locals and enthusiasts. The third historic Hudswell Clark Pacific brought to the line by the new operators was named Poseidon to tie in with the existing Triton and Neptune.

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The BBC's Harry Gration reports from the NBR, 30th March (Colin Peake)

Moving down the coast to Cleethorpes, MRW Forum members watched with interest over the first months of the year as Dave Enefer's regularly updated website showed progress on the CCLR southern extension to North Sea Lane, which was miniature railway construction on a grand scale. I visited the line myself several times over the year to see the work progress, but it was to be May before the extension opened. The vast difference it has made to the railway is immediately obvious, the line serving a useful transport purpose between the holiday parks and the town, whilst gala days have taken on a new dimension. The view over the mouth of the Humber from North Sea Lane station on a clear day is stunning, a deceptively peaceful scene whilst behind you are the bustling leisure parks.

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The View from North Sea Lane Station on the CCLR (Colin Peake)

Miniature Railway World has grown as a website and forum during 2007, webmaster Peter Bryant describes it as a year packed full of miniature railways: "I have never been to so many miniature railways and met so many miniature railway people!

Through various discussion forums, new friends and societies I've joined this year, I've been able to keep track of what's on and been able to get to some major events, for instance the opening of the new station at Rhyl and the Galas at Cleethorpes, Sherwood Forest and Kirklees.

In total, I think (I may have forgotten some) that I have visited 24 miniature railways this year, 16 of which are new. These have either been through ‘5 miniature railways in a day’ trips, or a visit to a Gala.

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One of Peter's 24 railways visited in 2007, Bridgemere Garden Centre (Peter Bryant)

There are numerous moments I could highlight from this year which I have thoroughly enjoyed, but in particular my work experience at Kirklees Light Railway.
It was different for me to see happenings behind-the-scenes and get hands on doing activities, rather than just taking photos and having rides.

I am also happy to say it has been a very successful year for the MRW site. The main site has been redeveloped, and hopefully by Christmas the Index of Miniature Railways will be complete (after 5 years!). The forum has also been a huge success and through it, some very interesting and fun discussions have been had."

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Late in the season, Ivor operating at Shibden Park, Halifax (Peter Bryant)

There has been a definite feeling of community amongst Miniature Railway World members throughout the year at various events. David Colley of the Sherwood Forest Railway describes the past year as a very busy one: "We started with a working expedition down to Rhyl to give Simon and his gang of dedicated volunteers a hand. A very good weekend, with lots of progress made in the preparations for the grand opening of the new engine shed and workshop. We managed to attend the grand opening ceremony with Pet, following a repaint to get her looking fresh and more in keeping with the RMR livery. This was a great honour to be allowed to participate with such a prestigious event on a line steeped with history. Following this, we joined Austin Moss up at Windmill Farm to join in with his tenth year celebrations, another great weekend with lot's of running alongside historical locomotives and rolling stock.

The highlight for me personally was the trip up to the Kirklees Light Railway. The 7 mile return trip with Smokey Joe was one never to be forgotten, and once again, the scale and size difference was really highlighted when Smokey was parked next to Hawk. To say all this was fitted in between our annual Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway visits is somewhat a miracle. It is always difficult to try and have the steam locos in pristine condition when you are a small railway, and usually something will fail just when you don't want it to and also the logistics get quite complex when you seem to be somewhere different every other week.

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Smokey Joe at Shelley on the KLR, halfway through the round trip of 7 miles (David Colley)

The volunteers at our railway were, as usual, absolutely fantastic and assisted in the running both at home and away. The work of the volunteers never goes un-noticed and we are always eternally grateful. All in all, a brilliant year with lots of new friends made, and old friendships strengthened. The railway has run well, progress made all over and new stock acquired from the closed line at Brocklands. We're looking forward to next year and if it is only half as exciting and fruitful as the one that has just passed, we'll be very happy."

Attending many of the same events was Craig Gluyas: "2007 can only be broken down into 3 months of madness – May, June and September.

May started the ball rolling with galas at Cleethorpes, Rhyl and then our own at Windmill Farm. The co-ordination between the lines was excellent; locos went from one to another with precise planning. Cleethorpes gave a taste of what to expect with the extension, Rhyl had the new station building, and we ran 3 trains passing at the loop for the first time at Windmill Farm.

September heralded the Cleethorpes and Kirklees galas. The former operating over the new extension ran with no problems. Driving Red Dragon on the Saturday up the drag with steam coming from everywhere but the chimney was an experience not to be missed. The extreme laid back driving of Mountaineer on the Sunday was a total opposite, but one not to be missed!

The next weekend was the unique experience of Kirklees. I turned up in a civilian role, but was quickly told to get my overalls on. After being invited to take No 24 on the 1:00 (which I had to think about!) I was told the loco was mine for the afternoon! Then came the best experience of the year – the Shelley or Bust run. Driving No 24, handling the braking for the train and being the only person to see Mountaineer waddling in front was an experience I'll never forget. And don’t even talk about the tunnel – my ears still haven’t recovered!

So, in short a good year, enhanced further by meeting many new friends from this site."

Dom Greenop agrees that 2007 has been a very busy year in miniature railway circles. "A bumper year of galas, several new lines opening (Hotham Park to name but one), new items of infrastructure to improve facilities (the new station at Rhyl), though this has been marred with a few lines closing (including Dobwalls and Brocklands). My own personal concern, the Dragon Miniature Railway, has also made great progress during the course of 2007.

Carrying on from the exceedingly successful 2006 season, the DMR successfully held its first gala, has seen the construction and commissioning of a Drive-Your-Own tram, new coaches, opening of the picnic area, and despite the bad weather, seen great increases in general passenger numbers. More of this is planned with the hope of further enhancing the experience for our passengers.

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Western Champion unloads passengers for the picnic area at the Dragon Miniature Railway on July 29th (Dom Greenop)

My visits this year to other miniature railways have not been particularly varied or frequent, but everywhere I have been I have been impressed with progress and the operation of the railway. The Buckfastleigh Miniature Railway, after an extended period of stagnation, is making great progress on its new station and is also replacing the old aluminium rail with second-hand steel rail from Dobwalls. The East Somerset Society of Model and Experimental Engineers have also extended their line and had an exceedingly successful year.

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Track upgrades in progress at the Buckfastleigh Miniature Railway, October 20th (Dom Greenop)

However, complacency must not raise its head. The drive to continue this progress needs to stay alive, otherwise it will lead to decline, and this will undo all the work that goes on behind the scenes, frequently without the public’s knowledge."

Another member heavily involved in running a railway is Tim Dunn: "2007 was supposed to be the year of consolidation at Bekonscot Model Village. Unsurprisingly, our enthusiasm overtook us once again. The past twelve months has seen the construction of a new Bo-Bo sit-inside loco, the acquisition of 60 ft of Mardyke 125 HST and the purchase of our first steam loco. The extra stock followed the relaying of our main circuit and extension with heavier track due to the unexpected high use of the line. It seems the public’s demand for riding on tiny trains is insatiable – providing they get value for money and a pleasant environment. What beckons for 2008? Those loco projects should be finished, our landscaping will be complete and full signalling installed. As the spam emails always tell me: If it’s a short one, you’ve got to make more effort to keep them happy...

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Tim's Mardyke 125 at Beckonscot during a test run (Tim Dunn)

This was also the first year that I’ve taken a real participating interest in miniature railways. My main interest will always be the model villages – but somehow the two worlds always seem to collide. If there’s a model village then there's bound to be a miniature railway not too far distant. Rather than passively reading about them or playing about with our own short commercial line, we've made an active effort to get involved. Aside from our memberships of various societies, we also joined BGLR, which has been a brilliant organisation to join. I urge any other operators to do the same. We’ve made some great friends and learned so much as a result. Hopefully, others have gained from our participation too. Getting Involved with other MRs has meant driver training at RHDR, plus visits to Haigh Hall, Great Cockrow, Hastings, Quainton, Evesham Vale, Swanley, Royal Victoria, Eastleigh, Watford, Moors Valley, Cleethorpes, Strand, Betws-y-Coed, Birchley, Catalunya, and that 2ft gauge 'miniature' line at the Pallot museum on Jersey. I’ve learned a lot. And there’s so much more to learn. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2007 is that the miniature railway world is full of really great fun people – get out there and enjoy miniature railways with them."

The miniature railway world sadly lost one great individual during 2007, described as "a year of ups downs" by Anthony Coulls, "My personal downs were the sad passing of Robin Butterell in May, I only regret not having known him better, but he was always the perfect gentleman on our nodding acquaintance, and not having enough time to devote to my interest in miniature railways. The highlights from the miniature point of view has been seeing the forum grow and become alive, plus being able to be present at the opening of the new Echills Wood Railway at Kingsbury Water Park in Warwickshire after the traumatic upheaval and relocation for Stoneleigh. The sight of nearly 40 locos in the cavalcade was amazing and to see and to ride on so many packed double headers was a fantastic experience. It has also been a continued privilege to have Darrroch's 9 1/2inch gauge Webb Compound Orion in my professional care and also have the occasional steaming with it! As for the future - I am very excited at the prospect of a Museum of Miniature Railways taking shape during 2008 and perhaps being able to enjoy a few more lines with my family as the year progresses."

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David Walters on Rough Pup and Colin Gaskins on Bluebell driving one of the heavily loaded opening day specials at Echills Wood in July 2007 (Anthony Coulls)

So can 2008 top 2007 as a year of progress? Looking ahead, clues for several potential new lines have already been revealed. At Dobwalls it became clear as the year went by that although the Rio Grande route would not be retained as had been hoped, there is the glimmer of hope of a railway of some sort on the site in the future. However it will not be on the scale of previous routes. Back in February Heritage Railway magazine revealed the possibility of a new miniature line at Dudley Zoo, known for many years for a 15” gauge line. Although the masterplan for the site mentions a miniature line nothing more is known at this stage. March saw news on the internet of a line projected for the parkland around Holyhead Breakwater, with an extension along the breakwater in the future. Also in March The Railway Magazine included details of a scheme for a new 12 ¼“ gauge line to be supplied with an Exmoor locomotive and stock. By June it was revealed to be Joe Nemeth, upping gauge (again!) and building at Tintern station on an abandoned standard gauge trackbed. An eagle eyed MRW Forum member made a very interesting sighting in May at TwinLakes Park near Melton Mowbray, the stock and track of the now closed American Adventure theme park’s 15” gauge railway stacked up ready for re-use. As yet nothing is known about this project but it will no doubt be watched with interest.

From all the Miniature Railway World Team of Administrators and Moderators, we hope you enjoyed 2007, here's to 2008!

Edited 13/12/2007 - Our apologies to the contributors and publishers of The Railway Magazine for crediting one of their competetors with the scoop on the Tintern story in March. The Railway Magazine carries a miniature railway column on a quaterly basis in it's January, April, July and October issues.

Miniature Railway World Forum members may respond to this Digest entry with their memories of 2007, however all replies are moderated and will only appear once approved by a team member.
Miniature Railway World Digest
Edited by Colin Peake
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Murray Tremellen
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Well 2007 has been a rather frustrating year for me - GCSE exams in the spring and the start of my A-level course in the autumn have combined to mean I've missed all the events described above :( Still, thanks to MRW I have at least been able to keep in touch with it all.

Nevertheless, 2007 has been a sucessful year at my own line, the Ruislip Lido Railway. We've seen diesel loco Lady of the Lakes and our P-Way coach return to service after refurbishment at Severn-Lamb, and steam loco Mad Bess return to traffic after nine months out of service. We've also introduced two new special events for this year, the Easter Eggspresses and the Starlight Express, both of which have been highly successful, and in April we carried our (estimated) one-millionth passenger since the society took over the line in 1979, quite an impressive achievement. Furthermore, after a successful trial at an event in Croxley in June, it has been agreed that the society's original locomotive, Robert, which last year the society voted to sell, will now be retained to promote the RLR at outside events.

So overall, not a bad year - let's hope we can keep it up in 2008! B)
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At the South Downs Light Railway, 2007 saw the completion of our new station canopy. This now provides shelter for the passengers and can almost house an entire train undercover during service. 2008 should see completion of the waiting room and ticket office which adjoins the canopy.

2007 also saw the return of SR 4-6-0 No. 771 'Sir Sagramore' return to service after overhaul (not that it has done passenger hauling) and it looks, sounds and runs beautifully. Although it is becoming possible that we may lose a couple of the standard gauge outline fleet due to sale, which in my books is a very sad thing indeed as I much prefer the standard outline engines to the NG ones.

2008 might see the beginning of the construction of a brand new workshop and engine shed facility which, going by the drawings, will look 'the bees knees'. It will increase how many engines will be housed on site to run services as well as providing on site workshop facilities which we do not currently have.

The highlight of 2007 for me though was driving double headed with Chris English's Black 5 and Phil's Atlantic (maybe something to be repeated next year!).
"If the fascination engendered by locomotion at the present day is so intense, the attractive powers of locomotion in miniature must of necessity be greater still"

W.J. Bassett-Lowke. August 1911
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2007 was a very good year here at Rhyl with the arrival of three new locos and new station. I must take the time to thank all of you that helped to make this happen (you know who you are so I wont list as I would miss someone and that would not be nice).

Hopefully 2008 will be as good or better so heres wishing you a Merry Christmas and a railwayey 2008 :D
It may only be 15" but it is fun to play with
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2007 has been quite a year for all of us at the Kirklees Light Railway, new carriages, our second gala weekend and the first to feature visiting locomotives. Above all though I think that most of our volunteers will remember 2007 as the year that we finally came in from the 15" gauge wilderness.

We were all really excited about taking Hawk to Cleethorpes, the first time one of our loco's had left the line to operate somewhere else and actually got there! David Enefers photo of her being run down to the shed following offloading were both a great relief and raised the anticipation for the weekend.

We were all just getting over the enjoyment when Badger (our finest loco) was invited over to Cleethorpes for the September gala. We again received an incredibly warm welcome and it was good to meet everyone again.
A frantic five days followed getting ready for our gala the very next weekend, with stress levels definately not being helped by the hauliers brand new wagon breaking down three times! Its all history now though and fortunately the weekend exceeded all our expectations.
I'd just like to say thank you again to all of you who helped or visited over the weekend, it made all the hard work worth while and our only regret is having to send all those lovely loco's home!!

Our hearts were also gladened by the pleasure everyone had clearly derived from burning our coal!! the ensuing discussion on the forum was very amusing!

Next year also promises to be an exciting one, Hawk comes out of service at the turn of the year for an overhaul which will see her slightly bent mainframe replaced by a slightly shorter straight version. The following twelve to eighteen months will also see her cylinders and valve gear replaced so that hopefully she can finally fulfill her full potential.
Jay is also due a new engine, infact she doesn't have one at the moment as the old one has expired.
Theres also next years gala to plan and hopefully plenty other exciting stuff to look forward to.

Seasons Greetings to you all

Stephen B)
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At the Bure Valley Railway not much happened in 2007, other than:

• We took delivery of 1,800 new hardwood sleepers, 6,000 new pandrol type base plates, plus more pandrol clips, baseplate screws, granite ballast, etc.
• We got “type approval” for (a) our “Rusty” diesel hydraulic loco #4 and (B) our refurbished coaches. PS. If you have an item that has been type approved, and you modify it, you may have to get it re-approved, especially if the change has anything to do with the running gear. HMRI “type approval” is FREE until 1st October 2008, but may start to cost big bucks after, that is why...
• We are designing some new coaches and guards’ vans to go to HMRI before 1/10/2008!
• We carried over 100,000 passengers.
• Our turnover for 2007-08 should be up on last year.
• By the January 2008 we should have 5 powerful coal fired steam locos available for traffic, plus 3 diesels – all type approved.
• The Network Rail Signalbox at Wroxham has been moved, which will give us more space at Wroxham for future developments. The Signalbox is to be taken over by the “Wroxham Signalbox Trust” and restored, as far as is possible. The BVR is not involved with the restoration.
• We plan to have a diesel gala in 2008, plus to 2 x DowT!

In addition to the above, the BVR has real gradients, so locomotives have to work hard with up to 12 bogie coaches.

Happy Christmas to everybody, especially Santas.
David Barnes

Bure Valley Railway - The 15" gauge railway with powerful steam locomotives.
Trains between Wroxham & Aylsham in Norfolk.
The next scheduled services are at weekends until in Feb and March the 24 March when daily services commence.
Please look up the BVR website, for more details.
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As our contribution to the miniature railway reviews of 2007, I thought I’d review the developments on our 5” gauge line - the ‘Tat Bank Railway’.

We started the year with our new Ride on Railways ‘Hercules’ loco as our main motive power – our ‘Polly’ steam loco not being used. Finally, the decision was taken to sell the ‘Polly’ – with our other (mainly musical !!) commitments taking up a lot of our spare time, we simply did not get time to use her. We found a buyer quite quickly, and used the proceeds to order a Ride on Railways ‘Hercules’ with the Y6 Tram body. Our ‘Hercules’ has been 100% reliable, it can pull anything we hang behind it and Lewis loves the Tram version, so the decision was made !! After a long wait (Paul at RoR is very busy – which is good news as his products are excellent), our chassis has arrived and we are currently eagerly awaiting the body kit.

One evening I was surfing some American miniature sites when I stumbled across http://www.scalediversions.com. They produce the ‘Railpup’ – a sit on, pedal powered (by your hands !!) trolley for the USA market. They looked so much fun, we simply had to have one !! I exchanged a few emails with Ken Stanfield who was happy to build us a ‘Railpup’ to 5” gauge and ship it to the UK. We placed an order and a few weeks later a very large box arrived at the office. Although it was the start of November and very dark and cold when I got home, we had to unpack the new arrival and have a few laps. Its certainly going to make our arms ache, but I know what’s going to be the most popular item of rolling stock on our line !! Many thanks go to Ken for building the ‘Railpup’ to our specific requirements and for getting it shipped over.

With the sale of the ‘Polly’, we no longer needed our driving trolley, so I decided to build another plywood coach body to fit on the chassis. This would enable us to run a train of 4 coaches – the whole family could have a ride !! Following (another) visit to the Welsh Highland Railway, Lewis decided that we should have a ‘Pullman’ coach, so my challenge was set. Lots of plywood and MDF later, we had the basic shell. Several coats of paint were applied to achieve a suitably high quality finish, following which door handles, plastic window surrounds and crests were added to finish the job. Its certainly the pride of our fleet now !!

With the purchase of the Tram and ‘Railpup’, our attention focussed on keeping trains apart safely. I’ve written an article for ‘Home Railway’ magazine (a superb Amercian magazine aimed at folk interested in ride on railways around their gardens) which gives all the details, but suffice to say that we now have 4 semaphore signals for a total outlay of £25 !!

Looking back its been a progressive 12 months on the Tat Bank railway and we look forward to lots of operating sessions during 2008. I now have my eye on some ‘Ride on Railways’ automatic colour light signals, but we’ll have to see how that develops.

We’ve also managed to visit quite a few other miniature lines, including Rudyard Lake, the Dragon MR, Brookside MR and Woodseaves MR. We have had a great time at each and every one of them which has only reminded us of the pleasure we all get out of miniature railways – happy Christmas !!
All the best,

Steve Kesterton.

Visit the Tat Bank Railway online - www.kestertons.co.uk :)
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2007 here in Italy has been a year of progress as well.

The extension to the 7 1/4" line at Binasco came in to action for the May Steam Up.
It's not yet marked on the track plan and it is 5" not 3" for the other circuit. It now runs round the back of the lake and restraunt.


The Hoginwood railway found a new home, though as yet house restoration has got in the way a bit. Stuart has lots of plans and 2008 should see a start on the new line. The line is 5" and the proposed layout will allow lots of running. I sent a set of Sweet Pea parts there so steam is lurking on the horizon..


Alberto's 5" paradise continues to develop and the Big Boy is probably about a year away from it's first run. If you have not seen the pictures it's worth a look.
Click on il 'circuito' to see the track and 'in costruzione' for the Big Boy. In the 'Album fotografico' you can see us having fun at the annual get together. I'm in there having a crafty drive.
And by the way you have just learnt some Italian as well. I'm sure your active minds can work out the translations for yourselves...

The place to be is Umbria for miniature railways.

Luciano keeps adding to his line and the 7 1/4" is coming on. You have to see the terrain to appreciate the work involved.
Click on the English flag and follow the links.

Guido continues with his 7 1/4" track. I was there yesterday.

Enzo is building rolling stock and planning to open a 5/7 1/4" track at Clitturno, grand opening around May next year. In total about 2500' of running line.

There is a new track under construction at Perugia but as yet no web site.

Down in Naples work carries on at Nocera on the only steam operated minature railway in regular public service. (Every Sunday from Easter to September)
The web site is a bit complicated but there are some photos.
The powerhouse behind this is Romeo who builds a complete loco in the time I take to turn a set of wheels! His next project is a tram engine with a two man crew on 7 1/4". I was there a month ago and already it's gone from an idea to a rolling chassis.

There are now a couple of portable tracks doing the rounds at various local fairs.

Dwonside is a falling out at the other Milan track which has left few people willing to get involved

So 2008 is going to have a lot to live up to.

There will be quite a group at Sinsheim, just look out for the big pan of pasta and you will find the Italian contingent. I'm not sure I will get there as my day job is taking me to other parts of the world.

The 'il vaporista' workshop is full for a good while yet as I have to build two locos, overhaul another 4. Plus build a rake of 6 coaches and then I might have some time for my hobby....

Another house move is on the horizon (we are on number 8 in 15 years of marriage) but the new house has plenty or workshop space but no room for any length of permanent 7 1/4". I've got bored of mowing the grass so we will only have a small lawn and just enough space for a decent run in 45mm

Buon Natale and Buon 2008 as they say round here

Adrian Parker
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