Search This Blog

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Rhyl Miniature Railway


In a nutshell

Gauge:      15"   

Length:  Just under a mile

Opened: 1911

Location: 

Central Station,
Marine Lake,
Wellington Road,
Rhyl
LL18 1LN


View Larger Map

 

Date of visit:  2 August 2012

 

Key Facts

  • Built in 1911 by Henry Greenly and W.J. Bassett Lowke
  • The oldest miniature railway in Britain
  • In its first season the railway carried over 5000 paasengers
  • In 1920 four locomotives were built locally for the railway by Henry Greenly, named after his children; Joan, John, Michael and Billy
  • Two of these original locomotives (Joan and Michael) currently run on the railway while the other two are presently being reconstructed.
  • The railway also possesses three diesel locomotives and an American 4-4-0 locomotive (Cagney)
  • It also possesses a battery powered tramcar which is pressed into service during wet weather where it provides covered passenger accommodation and the occasional additional boost when the rails are slippery

 

Route

My Impressions

There was a steady flow of passengers and visitors on the day we visited, despite the unpredictable weather conditions.

Our loco for the day was Michael, on of the original Atlantic locos built for the railway in 1920.


We bought our tickets and took our seats in the open toastrack coaches and with a blast from the guard's and the loco's whistle ..........

 ....... we began our journey around the lake.


 The train crossed the road into the car park very tentatively. This is a blind corner for both motorists and the train driver and so extreme caution was exercised.

  Half way round, the weather took a turn for the worst and the heavens opened. However, undaunted, we (and the train) pressed on.

At the furthermost corner of the lake, the line curves round through the trees


 At the fourth corner of the boating lake, the line rises up a small gradient. The sudden shower had clearly dampened the rails and the four-coupled loco struggled to get a grip. With great skill, the driver coaxed the loco up the grade, ..........
.........  and we coasted the down gradient back into the main station.

 With the rain worsening, the crew decided to abandon the train of four open coaches in favour of the covered coach (which also doubles as a self-propelled tram) plus one open coach (which includes a compartment for wheelchairs).


 I decided to explore the small museum which includes one of the original locos (Billy), .......

................... some operating exhibits (signals and a Thomas the Tank Engine model) and some smaller Bassett-Lowke models.

 Under the station canopy, most of the rest of the railway's stock was on show including Clara, the railway's Perkins-powered diesel (formerly from Dudley Zoo), .........

..... Railway Queen (originally called Michael) awaiting restoration after returning to the line from Belle Vue Zoo, and ...........

...... Cagney, a refugee from the USA.

I found the railway staff to be very warm and approachable - taking great pride in the railway's heritage and in running it. The setting for the railway is great - a haven of tranquillity amid the commercialisation of Rhyl's traditional seaside resort.  If you fancy travelling behind some of the earliest miniature locomotives in Britain and a pleasant half day-out, then this railway is well worth a visit.

Video