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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Blenheim Park Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:         15"

Length:       1000 yd

Opened:      1975


View Narrow Gauge Railways in a larger map  


Date of visit: 7 April 2013


Key Facts

    • When opened in 1975 the line was a simple push/pull service with Pleasurerail, locomotives
    • The railway is now longer - in the shape of question mark, running from just outside the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens.
    • The railway continues the tradition of 15" gauge park railways developed originally by Sir Arthur Heywood
    • Trains are mainly now hauled by Sir Winston Churchill, an 0-6-2 steam outline diesel hydraulic loco built by Alan Keef in 1992.
    • Carriage stock comprises four bogie open toast-rack style coaches, also by Alan Keef.


    View Blenheim Park Railway in a larger map


    My Impressions

    The railway was directly opposite the car park when we arrived and so we were able to view the train as it passed us on several occasions while we ate our packed lunch.

     There are two caf├ęs at Blenheim, one at the Pleasure Gardens which specialises in food for children and their parents, and one in the Palace itself which is more focused on grown-ups. They both serve decent coffee and have a selection of hot and cold dishes available.

    While the rest of the family went to sample the delights of the Palace, I amused myself by exploring the railway. The line runs from just outside the Palace, where there is a platform and run-round loop ......
     .... for the line's principal locomotive, an 0-6-2 steam outline diesel hydraulic which was built by Alan Keef.

    Winding in an elongated S-shape,

    ....... the railway descends on a slight gradient towards the Pleasure Gardens .........

    ..... passing en route, the carriage and engine sheds.

    At the Pleasure Gardens, there is another small station with a run-round loop.......

    ...... which allows the loco to pull the train back up towards the Palace Station - something which it does at half hourly intervals.

    Considering the railway has been built to serve one purpose, the attention to detail is quite impressive, the track is in immaculate condition and the whole enterprise runs with a calm air of efficiency. It would be interesting to see some steam power on the line - but the Keef loco makes a fair representation of a steam engine and, of course, will require far less maintenance.


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