THE RAILWAY

Our 5 inch Gauge Miniature Railway has a total of ¾ mile of track with around 2/3 mile of running track. It includes a Tunnel, Motive Power Depot, Carriage Sheds, Turntable and Automatic Signalling System

In February 1999 Mike Bass and a team of volunteers moved onto the site at the Avon Valley Country Park. Their aim was to construct a "double track" main line 5" gauge, ground level railway. In May 1999 a five year plan was drawn up and was completed by October 1999, with men working 12-14 hours a day. Most of the results of this plan can be seen within the photo gallery on this website - I hope you enjoy navigating around the site.

Initially, train rides were given on a short length of portable track (150ft/50mtrs) laid on the greenfield site, using a Warship Class (42) Locomotive "D824 Highflyer" and two Aristocraft carriages.

By late June 1999 the new track bed had been excavated, and nearly 600 tons of limestone tipped and consolidated to form the base. Prefabricated track panels (normally 10ft lengths), which were made on site, were soon laid and by August 1999 the outer circuit, some 900 ft in length, was opened for public running.

A Portacabin, which was the former Wages Office at Old Oak Common, was brought to the site and formed the basis of the station building. A new tiled roof was built over the cabin and station area. A derelict turntable was purchased, restored and modified then installed with direct access via a ramp to the locomotive shed. This certainly made the job of stabling locomotives and rolling stock much easier than had previously been the case. The previous method to stable these items was to nearly dismantle them completely each night after the park had closed. Which took a considerable amount of time and was very heavy, fiddly work?

Track laying and fencing took the remainder of the year, until eventually the double track "inner circuit" was completed within a secure site.

A period of consolidation followed until 2002 when work commenced on building a 60 ft tunnel. This feature has certainly proved popular with our passengers of all ages and was finally completed in 2003. A Commemorative Brick can be found mounted on the front portal.

Meanwhile, in the workshop the team had been busy producing freight rolling stock, until over 30 vehicles were available to run as a demonstration goods train. We also can make these wagons to order (contact Mike Bass for further details). The goods train can run during the season when staff and other traffic levels permit.

To house the above mentioned wagons a large shed was constructed, adjacent to the locomotive yard. A smaller shed is used for the storage of special vehicles and driving trucks.

The signal box is largely based on that which was located at Parsons Tunnel, near Dawlish in Devon. It houses a 36 lever replica frame and was initially going to be used to control the signaling on the network. This proved to be very time and labour intensive and all signaling is now multiple aspect colour light, being activated by a combination of approach controlled track circuits (just like the real railway!) and wheel-operated treadle operation.
The locomotive fleet continues to expand. At present there is one operational steam locomotive, with five more nearing completion. The Diesel fleet comprises of 10 operational locomotives, that are all battery operated. Three more are nearing completion and a further three are more long term projects.

A small picnic area is included, adjacent to the railway just next to the goods yard, complete with rustic tables; again this is very popular with families, especially those with smaller children, who love to eat their lunch whilst watching the trains.

To remember your visit to the railway a souvenir shop/ticket office is situated at the railway entrance.

Over the last winter we suffered a small fire in the Country Park Models shop. This has lead to the temporary closure of the shop itself, although if you do require anything feel free to e-mail or ring with your requirements. It is planned to reopen the shop during the summer as a stockiest for proprietary railway models and spares (Hornby, Bachmann etc).

We are holding a Gala Weekend, June 30th/July 1st, during which the model railway exhibition will be formerly opened.

All staff are volunteers and I thank them for their assistance. My team is always willing to help and they are available to answer any queries regarding the railway or its operation.

 

© Strawberry Line Miniature Railway 2012