Search This Blog

Friday, 20 November 2015

Lappa Valley Steam Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:         15"

Length:      1 mile

Opened:      1974 (Original railway opened in 1905)


Lappa Valley Steam Railway & Leisure Park
St Newlyn East
Tel:        01872 510317 


Date of visit:     12 June 2015


Key Facts

  • The Lappa Valley Steam Railway is built on the trackbed of the Treffry Tramways branch line which ran to East Wheal Rose
  • The first tramway from East Wheal Rose operated from 1849 using horse-drawn wagons. 
  • In 1874 the tramway was taken over by the Cornwall Minerals Railway and steam locomotives ran on the railway for the first time
  • The railway was acquired by the Great Western Railway in 1896, and re-opened in 1905.
  • The branch was closed on 4 February 1963 as part of Beeching's 'reorganisation' of British Railways.
  • In the early 1970s, the trackbed was acquired by Eric Booth who cleared the thick undergrowth and laid the 15" (381 mm) gauge track between Benny Halt and East Wheal Rose. 
  • Zebedee, the line's first steam locomotive, was built by Severn Lamb in early 1974 and the railway opened to the public on 16 June 1974 with four locally built coaches. 
  • In 1975 the East Wheal Rose area was landscaped and the boating lake was dug to help drain the land. 
  • In 1976, the line acquired some locomotives from Longleat with more carriages also being built at the time. 
  • During the 1970s, a 7¼" (184 mm) gauge railway was laid around a smaller lake
  • In May 1995 10¼" (260 mm) gauge railway was constructed for half a mile along the next length of the old tramway trackbed.
  • In 2014 the Lappa Valley Railway was bought by Keith Southwell who aims to continue the work which Eric Booth started
  • The railway presently has two 15" gauge steam locomotives (Severn Lamb 0-6-4T Zebedee and Berwyn Engineering 0-6-0 Muffin), one 15" gauge diesel loco (0-4-0 Arthur), two 10¼" gauge diesel locos (Alan Keef 0-4-0 Eric, Severn Lamb 4-4w Duke of Cornwall) and one 7¼" gauge train (a representation of an APT built by Mardyke Miniature Railway)
  • UPDATE: A third 15" gauge steam loco (Exmoor Steam 0-4-2T Ruby) was added to the roster in July 2015
  • In addition to the two other railways at East Wheal Rose, there are two lakes (one for boating and the other for wildlife), a crazy golf course, children's play areas, a gift shop, a cafĂ©, and a series of walks through the valley.



My Impressions

When I arrived at the main car park for the Lappa Valley Steam Railway, the sun was occasionally finding its way between the clouds and the weather was reasonably warm.

After buying my ticket in the shop and ticket office, there was time to take a few snaps of the station area before the train arrived.

One of the line's two steam locomotives (0-6-0 Muffin) was sitting outside the main engine shed, waiting to be admired (another steam loco arrived in July, shortly after my visit) .......

..... and the lie's 0-4-0 diesel was sitting on a siding.

Before long (trains run every 40 minutes), the line's other steam loco (0-6-2T Zebedee), hove into view with its impressive train of five bogie coaches.

There was time to admire the diminutive loco.......

.... as she was turned ........

..... before running round the train.

 The mile long journey to the other end of the line at East Wheal Rose took us through mature woodland, .....

...... running for a short distance beside the parallel track from the reverse loop ........

......... before swinging round the boating lake, to pull into the station.

By the time the train had discharged its passengers and the loco taken on board more water, the heavens had opened.

I decided to take the train back to the main station, to fetch my waterproof from the car.

The train negotiated the reverse loop and then rejoined the main line back down to Benny Halt.......

..... where we pulled into the main platform once more.

 On my second journey down the line, the loco experienced some wheel-slip as she climbed the gradient on the approach to East Wheel Rose. The driver coaxed her over the summit ........

 ..... and we arrived once more at the station, where quite a large crowd of slightly damp visitors was waiting to make the journey back back to their cars.

 I took the opportunity to explore the visitor attractions at the site. The 7¼" railway which winds its way around the smaller of the two lakes ........

..... and the 10¼" gauge railway which runs for a further half a mile along the trackbed of the original railway.

 From the cafe, it was possible to get an elevated view of the site. The rain was easing by this time ......

 ...... but I decided I had exhausted the supply of attractions. It would have been different if I had been accompanied by children - there was plenty to keep them entertained and interested. The distant whistle announced the approach of Zebedee with another trainload of visitors ........

....... and so I climbed aboard once more, taking a quick look back over the boating lake as we negotiated the reverse loop.

There was time to shoot the departure of the next Down train, before browsing through the books and nick-knacks in the shop. I decided against having a Cornish Ice Cream, the rain having decided to teem down once more.

I enjoyed my visit to the Lappa Valley Steam Railway, but then I have a particular soft spot for 15" gauge railways since learning about their history (see A brief chronology of minimum gauge railways). There seemed to be plenty of attractions for younger visitors and for those who might want to explore the various nature trails and walks in the area. It was a pity that the weather was so unpredictable - the rain had not been forecast - and it was as much an irritation for the railway staff as for the visitors.

It was certainly well worth the visit - and when the grandchildren appear on the scene ........


Monday, 10 August 2015

Moseley Industrial Museum

In a nutshell

Gauge:          2'

Length:      700yd

Opened:     1990s


Tumblydown Farm,
Tolgus Mount,
West Cornwall.
TR15 3TA

Phone:01209 211191
Mobile: 0751 1256677




Date of visit:     8 June 2015


Key Facts

  • The museum was originally started by Colin Saxton as a craft project for pupils at Moseley Boys Grammar School in Cheadle, Cheshire in 1969. 
  • Over twenty-five years, the railway collection grew to over forty narrow gauge locos with half a mile of track. It became a museum open to the public.
  • When the school grounds closed in 1990, the collection was dispersed - some forming the basis of the Moseley Railway Trust which is housed at the Apedale Valley Light Railway near Stoke on Trent, and the rest forming the basis for the collection at Tumbly Down Farm in Cornwall
  • The museum now has eight locomotives, many of which are from local sources. Five are battery electric locos and three are diesel.
  • There are also around forty items of rolling stock, renovated and maintained by a team of volunteers
  • In addition to the  railway relics, there is a large collection of vintage toys on display, including clockwork and electric model trains from Hornby, Trix, Lima, ACE and LGB. There is also a large collection of Meccano and Dinky Toys.
  • On the site is a display depicting a mine, with original equipment displayed in a realistic setting.
  • The museum also houses a working replica of William Murdoch's 1784 steam powered road carriage.
  • The museum is not normally open to the public but visits can be arranged by contacting the owner beforehand.
  • There is no admission charge but visitors are encouraged to make a donation to museum funds.


My Impressions

Having phoned beforehand to arrange my visit, it was suggested that a Monday would be a good day, as this was when the volunteers would be on site. I duly arrived shortly after lunch time and made my way into the main museum building which houses an impressive array of vintage model railway equipment. At the centre was a large Hornby Dublo layout with eight independent circuits.

Around the edges and in various nooks and crannies was an assortment of other model railway exhibits, such as LGB, ...

... Triang TT, ...

... Trix Twin and Hornby 0 gauge.

Another room was in the process of being refurbished to hold the museum's collection of Meccano models:

Although this was of great interest to me as a railway modeller of many decades standing, my primary purpose in visiting the museum for the purpose of this blog, was to view the narrow gauge railway artefacts. These were housed in a couple of sheds and workshops:

The museum has accumulated a number of battery electric vehicles which served in local tin and mineral mines. In addition, there was a range of internal combustion locomotives of varying vintages and origins.

Outside, a 700 yard two foot gauge line has been laid around some of the paddocks belonging to the farm and on the day of my visit, a BEV which formerly operated in the Geevor tin mine was coupled-up ready for a trip.

 As I was the museum's only visitor at that particular moment, I was treated to a personalised ride around the line.

There are a couple of passing places on the railway, which has a balloon loop at its far end

After negotiating the loop ....

... we set off back up the line.

The loco running round its train at the main terminus, where there is an interesting collection of trackwork serving the various sidings and shed roads.

After browsing the museum exhibits in more depth, including seeing the Hornby Dublo layout in operation, and joining the workforce for a very welcome cup of tea, I explored the museum's re-creation of a coal mine in which exhibits are displayed in realistic tableau settings.

 Colin, the museum's owner, talked me through the history, origins and workings of the site's replica of the steam road vehicle which was developed in 1784 by William Murdoch. Apparently, it was being prepared for a run in a local gala that weekend.

As a narrow gauge railway enthusiast and railway modeller (see Railway Modelling and Me), I found the whole experience to be extremely rewarding. Colin was on hand to talk me through many of the exhibits and his long-term and well established devotion shone through. The vast majority of exhibits have been donated by organisations and individuals and a team of volunteers keep things running so they can be shared with fellow enthusiasts and the mildly curious.

There is no admission charge, but a donation to keep this unique collection maintained is, to my mind, well deserved. My only regret is that I was unable to spend more time there and that it is so far away from where I live, otherwise I would become a more frequent visitor. I feel there is so much I was unable to see and experience in the time I had available.


Friday, 7 August 2015

Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway

In a nutshell

Gauge:         2'

Length:       approx ½mile

Opened:     1982


Email:   ngrinfo(at)   


Date of visit:     14 June 2015


Key Facts

  •  The railway is located  at Toddington Station on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
  • The line operates on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from Easter to September
  • The railway has four steam locomotives: a 1906 Arn. Jung 0-4-0WT, 'Justine'; two Henschel & Sohn Brigadelok(Heeresfeldbahn) 0-8-0T locos, one built in a 1917 and the other in 1918; a 1940 Hunslet 0-4-2T, 'Chakaskraal No 6'
  • It also has several narrow gauge petrol and diesel locos; Lister, Ruston & Hornsby, Motor Rail, FC Hibberd and Hunslet. The Hunslet is used on passenger services on 'diesel days'
  • There are three coaches used regularly on passenger services. These were built by members on military wagon frames. They also have a German built bogie coach.
  •  There is a well stocked cafe and gift shop on the site. 
  • The trip along the line includes a visit to the narrow gauge railway workshops and a restored signal box. There is also a 16mm scale railway layout at the sheds.


My Impressions

 The Sunday on which I made my visit coincided with a vintage vehicle exhibition on the neighbouring Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. The car park was very nearly full and the site was heaving under the weight of people.

After browsing the bookstalls and model stalls, I had a spot of lunch in the site's large, well stocked cafe before making my way across the car park to the narrow gauge railway station, where the train was waiting.

 The loco for the day was the line's stalwart, Justine - a 1906 Arn. Jung 0-4-0WT.

I boarded the leading carriage and awaited the off.

During the day, trains were running at half hourly intervals, announcements being made via the site's tannoy reminding prospective passengers of the line's location and imminent departures.

With a blast on the loco's surprisingly high pitched whistle, the loco set off on its journey down the line.

Before long, we pulled into California Crossing, where the narrow gauge railway's sidings, sheds and workshops are located.

There was a ten minute stop, to allow passengers to visit the re-sited signal box.....

.... and the railway's collection of locomotives.

In the sidings were some fine specimens of restored former admiralty rolling stock.

 The staff were on hand to answer questions and explain the origins of the various items of rolling stock, while Justine was spruced-up.

We then continued our journey down the line

At the end of the line the loco ran round the train, before setting off at a smart pace back up the line to the main station.

 ..... where she ran round her train once more - awaiting the next departure.

The line's Hunslet diesel, which is the mainstay on 'diesel days' was also in evidence.

Time was limited, as we had stopped-off en route home from a holiday in Cornwall, but there was an opportunity to watch train movements on the GWR where some impressively large and powerful locos were in evidence, such as this 42xx 2-8-0 tank loco.

A great advantage of short railways such is this is that there are plenty of opportunities to get lineside shots and travel the railway more than once - the ticket allows unlimited journeys on the day of issue. For those interested in all aspects of steam railways, this combined standard gauge and narrow gauge railway site is well worth a visit. I would certainly be interested in returning when some of the line's other locos are in steam.