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The Smaller Gauges

Part 4: Pulborough

Martin Lovell

MARTIN LOVELL visits this miniature railway in Sussex.

South Down Light Railway

Hidden away in a garden centre in rural Sussex is a little gem of a miniature railway. Run and operated by a purely voluntary staff, the South Downs Light Railway exists to provide a new experience to those avid gardeners out to purchase additions to their garden.

South Down Light Railway

Many years ago Cheals Garden Centre became the base for a 7 inch miniature railway, which unfortunately fell into disrepair. By 2000 it was largely derelict, but the site was acquired by a group who installed a 101/4 inch gauge railway which grew into the railway which we can see and ride on today.

South Down Light Railway

Based in what is now the Pulborough Wyevale Garden Centre, there is nearly a mile of track is laid out, giving visitors a unique experience into model engineering at its finest.

Small steam, and sometimes diesel locomotives, transport passengers around a maze of track from the main station every 15 minutes or so - through cuttings, tunnels and so on. The train passes items of interest, especially to small children, in smart coaches (which can be open in good weather) around the garden centre site.

South Down Light Railway

The line is fully automatically signalled; so, 3 trains can operate simultaneously with large numbers of passengers especially on gala days.

I was fortunate to attend one such day, on Father's Day in fact, where despite the weather a full service with 2 steam locomotives was in service.

South Down Light Railway

I was lucky enough to encounter one of our customers, who invited me for a tour of the workshops, and was amazed at the scale of operations of this enterprise, with member's locomotives in various stages of restoration and repair and awaiting service on the main line.

The group also undertake building work, such as the new locomotive shed, water tower and signal box, in addition to the upkeep of the locomotives and rolling stock and produce superb work that would shame a few full size heritage railways.

South Down Light Railway

So if you have an interest in Railways and gardening, a visit to this site is well worth it, and, of course, volunteers are welcomed with open arms as this Railway is run purely on a voluntary basis, or as I was told - for the love of it.

For further information, opening times etc. check out the website south-downs-railway.com and if you are down our way, make sure to pay a visit.

Happy Modelling

Martin

Take a look at Martin's previous articles on the Littlehampton Miniature Railway the Hastings Miniature Railway, and the Volks Electric Narrow Gauge Railway in Brighton.

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