While in Littlehampton for the SWING exhibition I visited the Littlehampton Miniature Railway. It opened in 1948 and is the oldest 12¼ inch gauge railway in Britain. It runs approximately 800 yards (approx. 750 metres) from Norfolk Gardens through a wood, along the seafront to Mewsbrook Park Station.
I headed for Norfolk Gardens station which is easy to find as it’s located near a crazy golf course and a cafe (this is the seaside 🙂 ).
The station is simple: a passing loop with a point at one end and a turntable at the other, a platform, a shelter and a very helpful stationmaster.
Philipa arrived a few minutes later with a train of open coaches. I hopped aboard and we headed off to Mewsbrook Park Station.
Mewsbrook Park is the main station on the line and hosts the shed, workshop and offices.
Philipa was turned on the turntable. She’s a diesel hydraulic built, owned by one of the railways volunteers, and is powered by a 4 cylinder Kubota diesel engine that drives two hydraulic motors.
In the yard were Albert and Daisy. Albert is a diesel elecric loco powered by a 1.8 litre Ford engine. Albert was built to 15 inch gauge and was regauged when she was acquired by the line in 2016.
The LMR team are very friendly they let me photograph the cab interior…
.. and showed me inside each of the three grilles on the bonnet.
Daisy was purchased from the Hastings Miniature Railway and regauged from 10¼ inch to 12¼ inch. The LMR team have built a new, taller body. It must make the loco much more comfortable to operate.
She’s a petrol hydraulic powered by a 1275cc mini engine and apparently she’s the best loco to drive.
The cab interior is wonderfully simple.
The line has an interesting history that’s full of twists and turns and it has come close to closure several times. There’s an excellent history of the line on the LMR website and it’s well worth reading. Suffice to say in early 2016 a group of volunteers formed the Littlehampton Heritage Railway Association (LHRA) and since 23 June 2016 they have been running passenger services as a not for profit charity.
The LMR team kindly offered to show me around the shed. They are steadily improving the workshop facilities and have acquired a lathe, pillar drill and a range of woodworking equipment.
These are wheel blanks destined to go on an Exmoor steam locomotive the Association has acquired. They are rebuilding the loco and regauging it from 10¼ inch to 12¼ inch.
When the miniature railway at the West Midland Safari and Leisure Park closed in 2013 their coaches went to the Windmill Farm Railway and then the Littlehampton line purchased them in 2016. The coaches were built by Severn Lamb in 1979. The LMR team have refurbished three of them and are working on the fourth.
The finished coaches are easier to access, have increased headroom and look great. I do like the red and cream livery and the dark stain on the wood.
I took the train back to Norfolk Gardens, the ride through the woods is very pretty.
Less than a minutes walk from Norfolk Gardens station is the broad, sweeping beach. I went for a long walk and collected some sea shells.
I really enjoyed visiting the Littlehampton Miniature Railway. The LMR team are very friendly, welcoming and they are doing a great job of rejuvenating the railway. I wish them every success.