Three Narrow Gauge Lines in One Day

At Easter we visited Bressingham Steam and Gardens in Norfolk. I got the chance to ride on three narrow gauge railways, each one a different gauge, on the same day. If you like lovely gardens and railways I recommend a visit.

We started with the 10¼ inch gauge garden railway. Our loco was built at Bressingham and is modeled on a Hunslet quarry loco. She is named after the founder of the gardens, Alan Bloom.

The Garden Railway is around two thirds of a mile long (1.25 km) and runs around the beautifully landscaped garden with trees, flowers and the ‘island beds’ pioneered by Alan Bloom. The loco can pull up to 60 passengers in three coaches, and she made very light work of this when we visited.

After a walk around the gardens, we went to the 2 foot gauge Nursery Railway that runs for 2½ miles (4km) around the old plant nursery. This time we met a genuine Hunslet, Gwynedd, the first ‘Port’ class locomotive supplied to Penrhyn Quarries in North Wales in 1883. She worked the quarries there until 1954, and has recently been fully restored by the Bressingham Steam Society. She reentered service in 2016. She looks fantastic…

…and runs well too…

The second loco running on the 2 foot gauge was George Sholto another Hunslet loco that operated at Penrhyn. Built in 1909, she has been reboilered and overhauled and reentered service in 2011.

In the engine shed I found Bevan, a loco built at Bressingham in 2010 and based on the Kerr Stuart Wren design. I don’t think the originals had tenders and, to my eyes, it makes Bevan look more like a miniature railway loco that a 2 foot gauge one.

Just to show I can appreciate the subtle beauty of a diesel loco, here’s a diesel Hunslet built in 1980 (works number 8911).

I like the asymetrical bonnet…

.. and the very simple cab.

The Nursery Railway runs alongside the 15 inch gauge Waveney Valley Railway in a couple of places and it is great fun to see the two trains running so close together. Here’s a view of the 15 inch gauge from our 2 foot gauge carriage.

Obviously, we had to visit the Waveney Valley Railway. St Christopher is the main loco on the WVR. She was constructed by the Exmoor Steam Railway in 2001 and moved to Bressingham in 2011. She’s a good looking 2-6-2, well proportioned and sturdy, with outside frames and Walschaert’s gear.

Here’s the makers plate.

It’s interesting to compare the modern style of this plate with the Hunslet makers plate from 1909 on George Sholto – how styles have changed!

I was very pleased when I saw the carriages on the 15 inch line.

These very elegant carriages were built in 1937 for use in an exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany. I first saw one in the engine shed on the Bure Valley Railway (see these photos) and I was so impressed I wanted to ride in it. Today, I was going to get the chance 🙂

Here’s the makers plate. The Waggonfabrik Uerdingen AG was founded in 1898, merged with the Düsseldorfer Waggonfabrik in 1935, and is owned by Siemens now. Interestingly, the carriage I saw on the Bure Valley Railway was Fabrik-Nr 11811…

The Waveney Valley Railway have this ‘brake’ coach, that combines passenger seating, a guard’s compartment and (what I assume) is a luggage space. I wonder if this is original or a later modification. I’d love to know a little more about the history and design of these coaches.

In the yard there was this bogie.

Perhaps it’s one of the original bogies for the Dusseldorf carriages.

At Bressingham there are two 4-6-2 pacifics built by Krupps of Essen in 1937. These were the locos that hauled the passenger coaches in the Dusseldorf exhibition park. Amazingly, both locos survived the war and, although Rosenkavalier was overhauled she was placed in storage and never used.

Alan Bloom purchased both locos, and several coaches, in 1972. He paid £10,000 (plus £1,750 transport costs) for the lot. Having acquired them, he built the 15 inch gauge line at Bressingham. It was completed in 1974.

These are large, imposing locos and it must have been an impressive sight to see them in steam. Sadly, both locos are out of service and will need to be overhauled before they can run again.

A third loco was built by Krupp to the same design, and this was purchased by the Romney, Hythe
& Dymchurch Railway in 1976 and is now known as ‘Black Prince’.  Additionaly, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway are currently restoring a very similar locomotive and there’s an interesting history here.

It’s good to look around for little details that are worth modelling. For example, these two point levers. One is boarded over to protect the point rodding…

… in the other the pull rod just disappears into the ground.

There is a standard gauge line at Bressingham too. I didn’t examine it in detail, but two things caught my eye. Look at this lovely, weathered coach.

And this diesel shunter made me smile. Do the side skirts hide a Kato 103 chassis…?

There is more to Bressingham than railways. We rode on the Gallopers, had a great time on the 1950’s Dodgems with Rock and Rock background music, and tried our luck on the penny slots.

Plus, best of all, we got to meet one of our heros… Peppa Pig…






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.