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Monday, 24 September 2012

Perrygrove Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:    15"

Length:   ¾ mile

Opened:  1 August 1996


Perrygrove Farm
Perrygrove Road
GL16 8QB

View Narrow Gauge Railways in a larger map


Date of visit:  19 September 2012


Key Facts

  • The entrance ticket includes unlimited train rides
  • The site includes indoor and outdoor play areas for children plus woodland walks and picnic areas
  • The railway is open during school holidays and at weekends through the year and usually runs steam-hauled trains
  • Perrygrove holds The Heywood Collection of historical rolling stock and replicas of early minimum gauge railway artefacts 
  • The railway's locomotives include a replica of the Eaton Railway's Ursula
  • The railway makes imaginative use of the site to zig-zag up the hillside, providing a challenging route for locomotives and their drivers to show their capabilities
  • The site of the railway is a former farm on the edge of the Forest of Dean. One of the stations on the line (Oakiron) is named after an iron ore mine, the shaft of which existed on the farm.
  • The railway owns three steam locomotives (one of which is an articulated Garret) and three internal combustion powered locomotives.
  • NOTE: Dogs are not allowed on the site.


From the main terminus there is a long straight beside a meadow followed by a slight drop to the Rookwood loop which then climbs to Rockwood Station where there is a passing loop.  The line now snakes through the trees to Heywood Halt, followed by a climb of 1:30 before the line emerges from the trees above the Perrygrove loco sheds and works. The line then curves back on itself before another 1:30 gradient to Oakiron, the site of a former iron ore mine, ¾ of a mile from Perrygrove. There are plans to extend the line a further ¼ of a mile.

Plan of the railway (not to scale)

My Impressions

My immediate impression as we parked the car and approached the main buildings was, "What a lovely setting for a railway." To reach Coleford, we had driven through the Wye Valley past Symonds Yat and through part of the Forest of Dean. We were on a day trip but I couldn't help feeling that this part of the world would make a great holiday destination.

After buying our all inclusive tickets, we passed through the café (which provides drinks, sandwiches and cakes) .............

.......... and out into the picnic area which is adjacent to the main platform and carriage shed (which doubles as an under-cover picnic area).

I was impressed by the way everything has been organised and laid-out, including the indoor and outdoor play areas for children. But of course, I was here for the railway.

Before boarding the train, I explored the carriage shed where some of the railway's historical exhibits are housed.
A replica of Sir Arthur Heywood's dynamometer car
Replica of an open wagon from the Duffield Bank Railway
Replica of the dining car from the Duffield Bank Railway which included a kitchen
Duffield Bank Railway replica First Class open coach
 In addition to the rolling stock, there were panels and contemporary photographs of some of Sir Arthur Heywood's  early 15" 'minimum gauge' railways.

 As it was the annual gala weekend, there were also some visiting exhibits such as this rather fine model of a minimum gauge estate railway.

After watching some of the gala day trains come and go .........
Spirit of Adventure 0-6-0 with one of the replica Eaton Railway saloons
2-6-2 Fox, a visitor from the Kirklees Light Railway on a passenger train
0-6-0 Ursula, a replica of one of Heywood's locomotives which ran on the Eaton Railway on a goods train
We then climbed aboard one of the passenger coaches (made by Alan Keef) and departed for the upper terminus hauled by the line's 0-4 + 4-0 K1 Garratt loco.
Entering Rockwood Station from the loop
Passing 2-6-2T Lydia on her way down with a goods train
Climbing through the woods between Rockwood and Heywood Halt
Emerging from the trees above the line's engine sheds and workshops
Rounding the loop on the approach to Oakiron
Oakiron Station
Our loco running round its train
Descending towards the woodland above the farm
Approaching Rockwood, we see Spirit of Adventure with a train of Eaton Railway stock approaching from Perrygorve
Passing Spirit of Adventure at Rockwood
Entering Perrygrove Station
The train at Perrygrove Station
I then spent a while exploring the site, getting some lineside shots. One of the benefits of the zig-zag route of the railway is that it's easily possible to take several shots of the same train by taking a short-cut through the woods.
Visiting KLR loco Fox steaming up the gradient towards Heywood Halt
And then down again through the woodland
Eaton Railway replica, Ursula, steams into Oakiron station with a goods train ......
Where her train was shunted .......
......... by the Lister diesel ......
..........which was based for the day at the station ......
.... meanwhile the Eaton Railway replica guards van was shunted to the rear of the train.
Spirit of Adventure on an Eaton Railways replica train above the line's engine sheds
A moment of calm in the woodland near Heywood Halt
 Before leaving, there was an opportunity to take a few shots of the railway's locomotives as they simmered in the sunshine.
Ursula - a replica of an Eaton Railway locomotive
0-6-0 Spirit of Adventure - built by the Exmoor Steam Railway.
2-6-2 Lydia - built by Alan Keef Ltd.
ex-Bush Mill Railway (Tasmania) 0-4-0+0-4-0 K1 Garratt replica
Hunslet diesel - Jubilee
Simplex diesel - Workhorse - the line's original locomotive

 The Perrygrove Railway is the epitome of minimum gauge railways in the UK. It balances attractions for younger members of the family with a a pleasant environment and exhibits of interest to railway buffs. The more I have come to learn about Sir Arthur Heywood, his railways and his legacy, the more I've come to admire this little railway and the other 15" gauge railways around the country. My visit to this railway has fuelled my interest in finding out more and putting my visits to other minimum gauge railways into context.


 For more about Sir Arthur Heywood and minimum gauge railways see:



The Duffield Bank and Eaton Railways by Howard Clayton - Oakwood Press

 Heywood's Minimum Gauge Railways (reprint of Sir Arthur Heywood's original 1898 booklet) - Turntable Publications

Sir Arthur Heywood and the fifteen inch Gauge Railway by M.Smithers - Plateway Press

Fifteen Inch Gauge Railways: Their History, Equipment and Operation by David Moseley & Peter van Zeller - David & Charles Publishers

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