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Salfords Light Railway

Origins of the Salfords Light Railway

Railways have been in my family for 2 generations - up to me that is. My maternal Grandfather and my Father were both drivers. Unfortunately, my eyesight was not up to scratch, and as such I took a job in information technology. It pays the bills, and has allowed me to pursue my interest (my girlfriend might say obsession) in railways over the years.

During my school summer holidays I used to regularly visit my great-aunt in Weymouth (Dorset, England) and have memories of going on the miniature railway alongside Radipole Lake. Along with the line at Hastings, this was probably my first exposure to miniature railways.

I am currently active in modelling American standard gauge in H0-scale and British-outline narrow gauge in 5" gauge in the garden.

But how did the garden railway come about?

I bought my house in 1993, a small 2 bedroom, semi-detached house (called a duplex in the US) that was built in the 1920s. One of the first things to attract me was the splendid view out of the front and back of the house over adjoining fields. The garden was a long strip of land of approx. 100' and about 25' wide. However there was a large laurel hedge down one side that took a good few feet off of the side of the garden.

Over the years the hedge grew, despite my best efforts to keep it trimmed, and gradually began to take over the garden. It was a thorn in my side but I never really got the motivation to do anything about it.

Fast forward to early 2002.

One day my girlfriend at the time passed on a query one of her friends made of her: "Why doesn't John have a railway in the garden?".

16mm:1 foot model in my parent's garden before the track was torn out by vandalsIf I was going to put a railway in the garden it had to be something different. My American H0 models are electric and in the past I had had a 16mm live steam line round my parents garden (see left). Not long after this was put in, vandals ripped out all of the track and I lost heart.

In 1989 I had helped build a 7" line around a school not far from me and I associated passenger-carrying with this gauge. I knew I didn't have enough space for a 7" line around my garden, but I then started checking out what could be done with 5".


After visiting Maxitrak and Paul Middleton's Open Day (Ride on Railways - see picture above), it became clear that I could get a return-loop in the end of my garden - IF THE HEDGE WAS GONE.

During: I work with someone who's brother-in-law is a landscape gardener, so to cut a long story short, he took out the hedge and replaced it with a simple-to-maintain fence.
After: If you look on the grass you can see the brown mark where the edge of the hedge was. I have gained up to 6' to 8' of extra garden! The black mark is where they burnt the hedge and where we eventually put the pond and rockery.

As the garden had never really been used for much, I was effectively left with a clean-slate on which to do as I pleased.

"Railway planning here I come!!"

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