The Raised Track
The first raised track was constructed in Royden Park, Frankby in 1966. The track catered for 2½" and 3½" gauge locomotives operating around a basic circle. The practice of giving rides to the public came into being and with the generous donations given by the public, sufficient funds were raised to extend the railway.The enlarged track of some 1200 ft (366m) in a folded loop configuration was completed in 1980 and included a 5" gauge rail so larger locomotives are able to operate on it. Passenger trucks were built and the raised track continues to provide the people of Wirral an enjoyable ride behind a scale miniature steam locomotive. During the late 1980's the rails were replaced with a fully-welded construction, the rail being flat bottom bull head. It has been very successful and has withstood the rigours of public park life and the environment well.
In 2004 a carriage storage facility was built on the site and in 2005 a scissor-lift was installed to assist reception of locomotives.
By the end of 2014 the rails were worn out and there was a need to replace them once again. Thanks to the generosity of the public who had again supported the railway over the years the donations enabled a thorough and extensive rebuild of the supporting beams and rail tracks to be undertaken. The following gauges were included: 7¼” gauge, 5” gauge and 3½" gauge. The 7¼” gauge was added to provide additional stability for the passenger carrying trucks and also enable members to operate smaller size 7¼” gauge models on the raised track.
Work was completed on the upgrade just before Easter 2017 and the new rails are now being well used every Sunday.
The locomotives that operate on the raised track are usually fine scale models of full size engines. They are generally coal fired, producing steam just like the real thing. Many people are amazed that such small engines have the power to provide rides for so many passengers. There is quite some skill in driving and firing a miniature locomotive safely. However, it is readily learned and is a very enjoyable part of the hobby.
The Society has two locomotives available to members, one is steam the other is a battery electric locomotive. This enables those members wishing to operate and drive miniature locomotives the opportunity to do so.
These days you will see steam and diesel outline locomotives being used, both types of locomotive having their followers!
Raised Track Plan
Ground Level Railway Track Plan
The Ground Level Track
The 7¼" gauge ground level railway was constructed by society members following the granting of planning permision in 1999. The local branch of the Royal Engineers gave us a welcome boost by excavating the ground for the trackbed on the field. This involved moving around a metre deep strip of soil some 25 metres in length, and building an embankment, saving us hours of work with spades and barrows. On the 9th July 2000, 1899 ft of track had been laid and the railway was officially opened.
Work continued on improving the track and facilities in the park. A loop out in the field was added increasing the length of the ride to 2267 ft. Over the years snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells have been planted, the flowers providing a wonderful and much admired display. The railway running to narrow gauge practice, has proved very popular with the public. Weather and staff permitting, the railway operates on Sunday afternoons throughout the year.
There is considerable 'behind the scenes' work required to maintain and operate the railway. 2009 saw a move of premises within the park and a great improvement in facilities both for the railways and for members. Should you be interested in helping with the facilities and railways we are always pleased to provide details. There is a 'work party' on site most Wednesdays.
The layout includes a 4-line station with turntable close to the raised track, a line 'down' the park to the field with an inner circle and a crossover between inner and outer circle, followed by an 'up' return line. Three steaming bays are provided adjacent to the 'up' line near to the station. The main part of the railway is double track and provides plenty of driving challenges as well as great changes of scenery. In 2005 a scissor-lift traverser was installed to assist reception of locomotives.
The society owns three locomotives which are available for members to drive.
There are two Petrol/Hydraulic locomotives that are the ever ready stalwarts of the railway.
We also have a large steam locomotive that is much loved by members and public alike. Members undertake a short training programme before hauling passengers on the railway.
Society members also own locomotives that they run on the railway, sometimes hauling passengers and sometimes running 'just for the fun of it'.
To my mind there is nothing better than sitting behind and driving one's own locomotive. (ed)