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Seaside & Holiday Island Narrow Gauge


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2 hours ago, papagolfjuliet said:

The Camber Railway on East Falkland, which ran from the harbour at Port Stanley to the Admiralty wireless station. It was operated by a pair of Kerr Stuart Wrens which still survive in an ISO container near Stanley.

 

http://www.railwaysofthefarsouth.co.uk/11acamberrailway.html

 

Not forgetting the Falklands’ numerous short jetty railways as well.

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11 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

I think Tri-ang did offer a "showman's" version of the loco with both bogies powered. 

There was one of those at Swanpool beach, Falmouth.

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20 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

you'd not have have got a Viscount in or out of Broomhall as it was a private grass aerodrome with its longest runway 655m long. That was though long enough for the  Dragon Rapide that gave pleasure flights for Butlin's holidaymakers

http://www.butlins-memories.com/pwllheli/pleasureflights.htm

There was also a Dragon Rapide service to Broomhall operated by Cambrian Airways from Cardiff and Dublin.  However, with a fare from Dublin of over £8 I doubt it was used by many holidaymakers (though star "turns" coming to perform there would have been a different matter)

 

Broom Hall was bought by Billy Butlin - who was keen on aviation- in 1946 when he was converting HMS Glendower into the Pwllheli Butlins. He enlarged the pre-war airfield but not enough to operate Viscounts. For that, somewhere like Anglesea Airport (aka RAF Valley)   just 25 miles away  would be more likely but there may have been closer ex (or not yet ex) RAF aerodromes that could also handle such an aircraft. 

Crossed wires - Dragon never owned a Viscount, they did eventually acquire Herons and a Viking, but they never got to Broom Hall. Their scheduled service to Liverpool and Manchester out of the airfield at Pwllheli which ran for a few years, was operated by Dragon Rapides or smaller Auster/Miles light aircraft when loads were light, and they also extended their Renfrew to Liverpool service down to Pwllheli on Fridays and Saturdays, again using the DH89.  Their licence for the Manchester and Liverpool service out of Pwllheli did authorise the use of a Twin Pioneer in the future, which they never got round to purchasing so it seems they did want to develop the service further.

Their Viking was acquired when they were taken over by Hunting Clan but was based elsewhere and never went to Pwllheli, I misread the passage in "Gone but Not Forgotten - Defunct British Airlines since 1945" where I found out about the limited airline activity at Broom Hall!

Anyway, sort of back to topic, having flown in a few Dragon Rapides, I can confirm they are very much narrow gauge width.

Edited by wombatofludham
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On 23/02/2021 at 15:22, wombatofludham said:

Crossed wires - Dragon never owned a Viscount, they did eventually acquire Herons and a Viking, but they never got to Broom Hall. Their scheduled service to Liverpool and Manchester out of the airfield at Pwllheli which ran for a few years, was operated by Dragon Rapides or smaller Auster/Miles light aircraft when loads were light, and they also extended their Renfrew to Liverpool service down to Pwllheli on Fridays and Saturdays, again using the DH89.  Their licence for the Manchester and Liverpool service out of Pwllheli did authorise the use of a Twin Pioneer in the future, which they never got round to purchasing so it seems they did want to develop the service further.

Their Viking was acquired when they were taken over by Hunting Clan but was based elsewhere and never went to Pwllheli, I misread the passage in "Gone but Not Forgotten - Defunct British Airlines since 1945" where I found out about the limited airline activity at Broom Hall!

Anyway, sort of back to topic, having flown in a few Dragon Rapides, I can confirm they are very much narrow gauge width.

Thanks Wombat  that now makes perfect sense.

Did your info. say anything about the Cardiff or Dublin-Broomhall route that my source said was operated  by Cambrian (was that the same airline as Dragon?) 

Dragon Rapides are indeed narrow. There was one based at Clacton when I was learning to fly there in 1991-1992 - it's the one that does/did pleasure flights at Duxford. I never flew in it but I did get volunteered to push it around the grass there a few times. It only has a place for one driver so type conversions must be interesting. Clacton is about 500m and it had no trouble getting in and out of there so Broomhall at 650m would have been no problem.

Edited by Pacific231G
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I suspect the Butlins Minehead miniature railway was gone by 1981 when I was there for a day trip. I have no recollection of such a line, and I'm fairly sure I'd have sniffed it out if it had been there.

 

Edit: Well, apparently I'm not as observant as I thought, as it appears I missed the railway after all. 

Edited by PatB
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The last time I saw the Filey Butlin's railway from the road, which must have been after it was taken over by the bizarre Trevor Guy and renamed Amtree Park, it was being operated by a Ruston NG diesel. Prior to that ISTR a US steam outline IC tender engine.

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“C.P.Huntingdon” was the name of a 4-2-4T which was the first loco in California, 1863, for the Central Pacific in Sacramento, and since preserved. As it was well known, had the “Wild West” appearance, and had a neat, compact arrangement, it became a popular live steam prototype. It’s namesake was a filthy rich financier behind any goings on in California. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._P._Huntington

Edited by Northroader
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I've just found a short film of The Pwllheli railway on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rKGVc6KGVg

It was the longest of the Butlins railways at 3/4 mile and ran from the camp to the beach. It therefore provided a genuine transport link rather than just a ride. That's presumably why it lasted until 1996 when the camp was transferred to Haven Holidays.

The film, was shot in 1993 so the loco was No. 157 C P Huntington.

It was a single  train operation with balloon loops at each end so the train went just one way but it's not clear whether there were any sheds.

With a track gauge of (update) 24 inches though it had been 21 inches from 1953 to 1977 It was almost more a narrow gauge than a miniature railway . Would that have made it subject to light railway regulations that I believe kicked in at 12 inches (so the 12" gauge Ruislip Lido Railway was also lassified as a light railway) . 

2056954374_ButlinsPwllheliRly2.jpg.e2aa5725539d8bccc2900c39b79d37b9.jpg588682738_ButlinsPwllheliRly3.jpg.397d2d6635067134fbbbeb7ced5ad877.jpg1737580122_ButlinsPwllheliRly4.jpg.36886005e745a69a3d728ef897514d8c.jpg

 

Edited by Pacific231G
further update on gauge
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The thought of chill, damp onshore winds at Pwllheli made me wonder about the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Electric Railway, with its own chill, damp onshore winds. Was it seasidey enough to be admitted? Probably "yes", given that much of it was washed away by the sea.

 

Lovely old postcard https://www.tramwayinfo.com/Tramframe.htm?https://www.tramwayinfo.com/trampostcards/Postc212.htm

 

 

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4 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

With a track gauge of 21 inches It was almost more a narrow gauge than a miniature railway . Would that have made it subject to light railway regulations that I believe kicked in at 12 inches (so the 12" gauge Ruislip Lido Railway was also lassified as a light railway) . 

 

I think CP Huntington locos are actually 2ft gauge - the line may have previously been 21” and then regauged to suit. I think the regulations kick in at 350mm so Ruislip Lido is exempt but 15” lines are not (I don’t think there’s any actual 350mm gauge lines hedging the boundary).

Edited by 009 micro modeller
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Holiday camp trivia quiz: the Hayling Seaside Railway is the direct descendant of the East Hayling Light Railway, which was in a holiday camp. Both are the brainchildren of a character from Tintin,  or possibly the character's brother. Which character?

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27 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

Holiday camp trivia quiz: the Hayling Seaside Railway is the direct descendant of the East Hayling Light Railway, which was in a holiday camp. Both are the brainchildren of a character from Tintin,  or possibly the character's brother. Which character?

The Thompson twins? Or perhaps Dupond and Dupont?

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On 24/02/2021 at 17:08, 009 micro modeller said:

 

I think CP Huntington locos are actually 2ft gauge - the line may have previously been 21” and then regauged to suit. I think the regulations kick in at 350mm so Ruislip Lido is exempt but 15” lines are not (I don’t think there’s any actual 350mm gauge lines hedging the boundary).

Yes, under the 2006 act ,350mm is indeed the point below which exemption from ORR regulation now kicks in (unless they cross a carriageway)  but I'm not sure if that used to be the case. Someone from the Ruislip Lido Railway did tell me (before 2006)  that they were regarded as a railway rather than an exempt miniature railway but I don't know if that was really true.  I'm now wondering whether cliff lifts and similar funicular railways- such as Lynton-Lynmouth- also come under the aegis of the ORR.

 

I was quite surprised to discover that Butlins did indeed convert their 21inch railways to 24 inch to accomodate the Chase C.P. Huntington type locos they standardised on though some of the later ones were always that gauge. I think Pwyllheli was about the last to be converted (I've updated my previous  post to reflect that)  . 

From the 1970s, most of the actual work including gauge conversion was carried out by Alan Keefe. The Butlins lines did come under the aegis of the Railway Inspectorate- there are several references to visits by the inspector usually accompanied by someone from Alan Keefe- and they did mandate improvements, down to replacing a missing sleeper ar Pwyllheli.

That line did only have two sets of points, sprung to route trains the right way round the loops at either end. There seems to have been some sort of shed on the line at the camp end to store the train when out of use but it would have been a "tunnel" for the holidaymakers. 

 

In all their years of operation the Butlins railways seem to have only had one fatal accident at Ayr in the 1950s when a child who tried to get off the train before it stopped and got caught etween the train and the platform. 

Edited by Pacific231G
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7 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

Someone from the Ruislip Lido Railway did tell me (before 2006)  that they were regarded as a railway rather than an exempt miniature railway but I don't know if that was really true. 

 

I think the modern (post-1979) Ruislip Lido Railway is definitely as heavy as a lot of 15” lines (Lady of the Lake was initially 15” gauge when on test at Ravenglass) so in some ways it would be odd for it to be exempt. Is there an issue with the RLR because it’s a point to point line (you can get on and off at both ends and it provides transport rather than just a ride)? I know there is a footpath crossing at Haste Hill but I don’t think there’s a carriageway.

 

I think that a similar exemption existed pre-2006 for sub-350mm lines as I’ve seen this suggested as a secondary advantage of converting Fairbourne from 15” to 12 1/4” to accommodate John Ellerton’s stock.

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14 hours ago, 009 micro modeller said:

 

I think the modern (post-1979) Ruislip Lido Railway is definitely as heavy as a lot of 15” lines (Lady of the Lake was initially 15” gauge when on test at Ravenglass) so in some ways it would be odd for it to be exempt. Is there an issue with the RLR because it’s a point to point line (you can get on and off at both ends and it provides transport rather than just a ride)? I know there is a footpath crossing at Haste Hill but I don’t think there’s a carriageway.

 

I think that a similar exemption existed pre-2006 for sub-350mm lines as I’ve seen this suggested as a secondary advantage of converting Fairbourne from 15” to 12 1/4” to accommodate John Ellerton’s stock.

I agree. It's far more of a fully fledged railway than most of Billy Butlin's. One thing that I thought distinguished it from a miniature railway was that it was completely fenced and also has a fully fledged radio control system when not operating single engine in steam (I don't know what they used before radio control) . The fifteen inch gauge railway at Blenheim Palace is not fenced though it works on "suggested donations" so technically isnn;t taking paying passengers.  Having said that though I'm remembering that the 24 inch LBNGR isn't fully fenced - though it's not quite roadside either. It used to be run with electric token machines (without signals) though it is also now radio.  

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On 25/02/2021 at 23:24, Pacific231G said:

I agree. It's far more of a fully fledged railway than most of Billy Butlin's. One thing that I thought distinguished it from a miniature railway was that it was completely fenced and also has a fully fledged radio control system when not operating single engine in steam (I don't know what they used before radio control) . The fifteen inch gauge railway at Blenheim Palace is not fenced though it works on "suggested donations" so technically isnn;t taking paying passengers.  Having said that though I'm remembering that the 24 inch LBNGR isn't fully fenced - though it's not quite roadside either. It used to be run with electric token machines (without signals) though it is also now radio.  

 

One difference with the LBNGR is that the line pre-dates a lot of the stuff around it. There’s a few other quite well-fenced miniature lines - Moors Valley springs to mind and then there’s the Watford line where the entire complex of lines is essentially within its own enclosure.

 

I think Ruislip has always used radio signalling - prior to that it wasn’t complicated enough to need any signalling at all. The original line was just a loop from Woody Bay station and after being taken over by the current society it’s been steadily extended round the reservoir. Given that this development has all taken place since 1980 they were probably in a position to use radio from the outset. I understand that in recent years passenger loadings and thus train lengths at the RLR have increased to the point where they’ve had to double track the line from ‘Wellington Junction’ (near Woody Bay) as far as Eleanor’s Loop.

Edited by 009 micro modeller
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I finally found the old folder of my pics with the remnants of the Pwllheli miniature railway.  When we were there, in 2004, the site was under the ownership of Haven Holidays.  We wouldn't usually stay somewhere like this at the time as we rarely did caravans as opposed to our usual tents (and we generally camped a bit further down the coast towards Barmouth), but I think my parents had either won a competition or got some money-off vouchers.  We used the week in April to do mountain climbing and things, it was a bit too cold for days at the beach!  Apologies for the low quality of the shots, these were taken on my first ever digital compact.

 

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004.jpg.04ceab478e923472a1f4216c0e6a764d.jpg

 

The fence marks the old beach station...

 

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004_06.jpg.57d29adb4a4415932f7d9cb13975f89a.jpg

 

When we were staying there, I didn't know anything about a former miniature railway on the site, but when we walked on a path earlier in the day, I'd had my suspicions that it had been a railway line of some sort (given the relative basic-ness of the rest of the place, it seemed a bit too level and well-engineered for a regular footpath), confirmed when I went back later in the day and followed the path right to an old station.

 

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004_05.jpg.73dac0ed7ae8b63acc4ee5bad67c0375.jpg

 

The overgrown platform.

 

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004_07.jpg.f6d646c34b5f5de53dec5ed9145268e7.jpg

 

The overgrown remains of what might have once been formal plants around the station.

 

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004_02.jpg.068f5d78607dd34ca4219cfc4a46aa8a.jpg

 

The trackbed turned into a footpath.

 

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004_04.jpg.39283bcbd34f02df96f84e2c83ffc6e3.jpg

 

Path back to the site. 

 

In hindsight I think it's a shame it was scrapped, along with other features like the chairlift; the railway apparently served a useful purpose of transporting people to the beach, but then Haven was apparently all about removing the extras in favour of running the ex-Butlins camps as cheaply and basically as possible (or so I gather).  At the risk of offending anyone who works for Haven, I remember we found it all a bit disappointing, how stripped-back the place was... little things like the promotional pics of the indoor swimming pool showed tons of floats, inflatables and toys and things, but when we went for a swim it was all a bit bare, it turned out when we asked about it that had only been provided for the poster photoshoot.  There seemed to be a lot of that going on, pictures in the brochures and posters of tons of activities and extras that it turned out were not actually run at Pwllheli at all, just on other sites in the wider group.  I'd guess the railway was either a health and safety complication and cost that Haven felt they didn't need, or they considered it all a bit old hat, and too much like a 60's attraction for the cool late 90's/new millenium...

 

I don't know if the remains of the railway are even still there- out near the beach were some remains of old military structures, but they were due for demolition when the site expanded.  I'd assume most, if not all, of the remains of the line are gone now?

BEN_BUCKI_Pwhelli_April-2004_03.jpg

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Like so much British seaside until recently: faded remains of a very different past. I find it all very atmospheric, but its not something children would appreciate for their holiday.

 

Some places seem to have cracked the "retro-cool" thing, and kept themselves prosperous on that, but an awful lot don't seem to be able to do it.

 

I wonder whether the combination of the 'B' thing and the 'C' thing will lead to a bit of a revival?

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I fear that the last fifty years has seen the growth of safety consciousness stifling new initiatives. If something has existed before then, there’s a chance of keeping going, although things like insurance demands must be crippling. Keeping an eye on how the new Lynton and Barnstaple is progressing, the amount of legal paper work that had to be prepared before getting clearance would scare a lot of would be railway builders off. How the Selsey Tram did it, with no paper work at all, just couldn’t happen nowadays.

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On 20/02/2021 at 17:40, Will Crompton said:

Can I make a case for a narrow gauge tramway at Horrid Hill, a tiny peninsula located on the muddy Medway Estuaryside seaside near Gillingham.

Running a bit late on this, but to support your case that this is seaside, I can confirm that in the '70s kids wanting to go bathing at Gillingham would come to the ticket office at Strood and ask for "a return to the Strand". I initially thought this meant Charing Cross, which didn't quite fit with the rolled towel under the kid's arm! 

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  • Nearholmer changed the title to Seaside & Holiday Island Narrow Gauge

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