© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
On a return journey from South Wales, I
decided it was time for a detour - into the
Forest of Dean, Coleford to be precise.
Coleford is the home of the Perrygrove
Railway, an interesting little 15" gauge line
with a difference...
The difference is only hinted at in the publicity
leaflet (but emphasised on the railway's
website) - "Minimum Gauge Steam....". Over one hundred years
ago, Sir Arthur Heywood began his "minimum gauge" experiments
at Duffield Bank in Derbyshire, and later the Duke of
Westminster's Eaton Hall Railway was built, ostensibly as a "real"
railway, according to Heywood's principles. At Perrygrove, the
Heywood principle is being acted upon once again - it's a
"minimum gauge estate railway", not a miniature railway.
The usual working locomotive is a fine 0-6-0T, built in 1993 at
the workshops of the Exmoor Steam Railway, and similar in
appearance to the locomotives at the Rudyard Lake Railway
which I visited last year - though somewhat larger. It is suggested
that it is the first 15" gauge loco in which the driver can stand
upright in the cab.... Also on the line - in the shed on this
occasion - is "Ursula", a fine replica of Heywood's locomotive for
the Eaton Hall Railway.
Other Heywood-type rolling stock has been built - replicas of the
Duffield Bank dining car, and the dynamometer car, both in the
carriage shed, and, on the service train, a fine replica of the
Eaton Hall brake van.
The line extends for about ¾mile, in the shape of a squashed Z -
there are plans for a further ¼mile extension - and runs through
fields and woodland, with tight curves and one or two quite
significant gradients which really tax the locomotive. As a light
drizzle began (and I didn't think rain had been forecast...), the
driver was careful to feed a trickle of sand onto the steeper
parts in readiness for the next run.
Sadly, that light drizzle grew into a steady rain. I had intended
to have a wander about the woods and take a few more
photographs, but we had to resort to the railway's tea room.
"We'll have to come again" suggested the household authorities -
which meant that she too had thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Well
worth a look if you're in the area - plenty to hold the interest of
younger visitors too.
The Perrygrove Railway