Whatawhata Light Railway

About the Whatawhata Light Railway

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I have been fascinated by narrow gauge railways almost for as long as I can remember. I remember going to the museum at Brockham in the UK with my father when I was a lad, and later exploring the 2' gauge railways of North Wales. I cannot really explain why I find them more interesting than standard gauge railways, but for years I have endeavored to reproduce them in a number of different scales. Other interests came and went, but in the background there was always narrow gauge.

I have fond memories of the Weymouth Miniature Railway in Dorset and the East African Railways class 59 Garratt at Crystal Palace and would take every opportunity to ride on railways large and small.

I used to have a 5" gauge railway around my garden in England which was not really stable enough for young children - as they fidgeted the trains had a habit of derailing. It was a good start though and I learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed building it. When my wife and I moved to New Zealand in 2005 I sold the 5" gauge equipment and said that if I was to build anything here it would be 7¼" gauge or larger.

10¼" gauge and upward is frightfully expensive (and very unusual in New Zealand), so that only really leaves 7¼" gauge. Interestingly, if you choose to go up to 2' gauge, the prices are not that much more than 7¼", it's just that they are so big they are impractical for most individuals - and you have legislation to comply with. I helped build a 7¼", narrow gauge style line back in England in 1989 so I have a good idea of what I am letting myself in for and also what is possible.

In September 2010 we bought 1.25 acres (5000sqm) of flat land near Hamilton and I am starting to plan my new railway. It'll likely be a while before I actually start construction as work and building a house will have to come first, but that doesn't mean I can't spend my time planning!