7" gauge in the garden


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7¼" gauge in the garden

Crystal Palace & the EAR Garratts - 7" gauge


Crystal Palace

I have very little information on Crystal Palace. All that I know is that there was an embryonic scheme to open a railway museum there. One of the plans was to have a full-size Swiss Crocodile (articulated electric loco). None of this ever came to fruition, but a start was made on a 7" line.

I remember visiting once with my father when the operator was trying to get an East African Railway class 59 Garratt to go round a curve - it tended to want to go in a straight line. Somewhere there is a photograph (which I would dearly like to find) of me sitting in the cab of the loco. There were great plans to purchase many more Class 59s but for whatever reason the project never got off the ground.

East African Railways class 59 Garratts

There were two EAR class 59 Garratts built in the 1970s and the history of the two has been a little "confused" in the past.

The first was built by Coleby-Simpkins for Brian Hollingsworth's line in North Wales - it was named MOUNT KILIMANJARO. When Brian passed away, it was bought by Brett Rogers and is now based at the Weston Park Railway. Follow this link to a video of MOUNT KILIMANJARO running at Weston Park (you need to scroll down the page about half way to get to the link).

About three years later, William Heller made a start on MOUNT KENYA. William completed both chassis but then a move to Herefordshire meant that he no longer had the facilities to complete the loco. It was passed to Milner Engineering to complete. Once finished and returned to William, the loco was put in storage for some time as he did not have the facilities to run it. After two years of non-use, William decided to sell the loco to Crystal Palace.

At Crystal Palace for only a short time, it was bought by Roger Daltry (lead singer in the band The Who) but was sold again to the National Railway Museum in 1985.

MOUNT KENYA is still part of the National Railway Museum's collection and has undergone a major rebuild in recent years.

The locomotive had been on loan for some time to the railway at Weston Park, but in May 2003 it was displayed at the National Model Engineering and Modelling Exhibition in Harrogate whilst en route back to the National Railway Museum in York.

MOUNT KENYA is oil fired and air braked. Boiler pressure 120 psi. Length 196. Weight 2.5 tons. MOUNT KILIMANJARO is almost identical except that it is coal fired (as of May 2003 at Weston Park and privately owned).

Simon Hudson posted this comment about MOUNT KILIMANJARO on the UKminiaturerailways group on Yahoo! Groups on 14th January 2008:

Assuming I have the right Garratts.....:


Brett Rogers bought Kilimanjaro from Brian Hollingsworth, who I believe had the loco new from Coleby Simkins, on a trip to Wales a good few years ago now, Granddad and I searched out Brian's well hidden home and railway,...and happened to find it in the early stages of dismantling. I thus became the very last passenger when video camera in hand, and kneeling on a flat wagon, Keith (the railways new owner) drove me through the undergrowth into the trees! If like me you never experienced this railway running,....I think it fair to say we all missed something spectacular. The railway had the most superb wooden trestle bridges, spirals,...a long straight that appeared to be massive steel girders hanging from the trees! I have of course the photos and video that I took, but it would be great to see some pics of the railway in proper action? Brett's Garratt is either for sale or recently sold,....I don't know the latest, but has been based at Weston Park for many years, and is in superb condition. It was also converted to coal from oil firing when Brett got it,....and it gained a new whistle,....as Brian had it fitted with one off a full size A4,....which being about the same diameter as a 7 1/4 Tich boiler apparently used to use rather a lot of steam!

The NRM Garratt is still there....at the NRM, although it has been let loose on at least one occasion to play at Weston as the pics above show.

Cheers all.



This photograph shows MOUNT KENYA piloting MOUNT KILIMANJARO at Weston Park in 2000. Photo from Sharpo's Miniature World and used with permission.

Notes and credits

  1. Information on MOUNT KENYA provided by William Heller.
  2. Details of the Garratts derived from an article by John Milner in the 100th edition of the 7" Gauge News.


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