7" gauge in the garden

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7¼" gauge in the garden

Merstham Valley Railway - 7¼" gauge

 

Construction 1989    Exhibition 2001    Exhibition 2003    Assorted views

Construction of the Merstham Valley Railway in 1989

Visit the official website: mvrailway.awardspace.co.uk

 

The Merstham Model Steam Show (www.mmss.co.uk) is usually held on the second or third weekend of May each year within the grounds of St Nicholas School, Taynton Drive, Merstham, Surrey. In addition to the many exhibitors and traders that attend the show the Merstham Valley Railway is in full operation.

Jim Goss was instrumental in establishing the Merstham Valley Railway after he left the Moors Valley Railway in Dorset looking for a new home for his Tinkerbell-style loco "Sir Goss" (handy how the initials were the same!).

At this time, Colin Gregory was deputy headmaster of St. Nicholas School in Merstham Surrey and a keen promoter of live steam. Colin also ran railway-themed activities for the boys at the school, and the East Surrey group of The Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modelers is also based at the school.

I am not sure how Jim and Colin first made contact, but after negotiations, Surrey County Council agreed to the construction of a 7" line around the perimeter of the school's playing fields. It was about this time that I got involved along with a few of the other 16mm members.

The Merstham Model Steam Show is put on at the school every May, and the Merstham Valley Railway operated for the first time on 13th & 14th May 1989. For this show the track was simply laid on the grass with no ballasting and little preparation.

After some initial efforts to dig out the trackbed by hand, we decided the only way to make any appreciable progress was to hire a digger. For the sum of 70 per day (if my memory serves me) we got virtually all of the digging done over a weekend. With a cutting 2' deep and close on mile of track this was a real time saver.

 

On the 16th Nov 1989 we made it in to two local papers.

This is me driving "DIPPY" a petrol-hydraulic loco bought by the school. I am propelling a ballast train down to the end of the line.

And here is Chris (Colin's son) dumping one of many dozens of barrow loads of ballast. In total there was approx. 200 tons moved this way. Alex (surname forgotten) is driving DIPPY.

After all the hard work, time to reap the rewards. Boxing Day 1989 was the first time we carried passengers - invited guests and those who had been involved with the construction.

That is me trying to peer out of the cab of "Sir Goss".

"Sir Goss" was Jim Goss' loco. It is now based at the Swanley New Barn Railway - www.snbr.20m.com

 

Jim Goss is on the far side of the train with a black grease-top cap and holding two mugs, Dave Smallbone is this side of the train wearing a donkey-jacket and blue-jeans.

Colin Gregory can be seen in the photo above as the first person on the train looking towards the camera.

The spoil from cutting out the trackbed is seen on the right forming an artificial "hill" just before the loop

Epilogue

In 1991 I went to work in Germany for 15 months and when I returned in late 1992 I bought a home further from the MVR and as a result, I lost touch with the railway for most of the 1990s. In this time, Jim moved on and in 2000 the railway was extended down the edge of the field (i.e. straight on from the loop in the view above) and around a pond at the end to form a half-dogbone with a total run of close on 1 mile.

Chris Gregory and Jim Greenfield were still involved with the line in 2004 when we emigrated to New Zealand.


View Larger Map

In this more recent satellite view of the school it is possible to make out the locosheds and turntable north-east of the swimming pool with the track heading off to the east. It then turns south to run along the hedge-line, curving around the kidney-shaped mound of earth (seen in one of the views above) and heading west along the bottom of the field to the return-loop around the wooded area which is clearly visible to the south-east of the school.

(Use the Google Maps controls to zoom in and scroll round in the image)

 

Construction 1989    Exhibition 2001    Exhibition 2003    Assorted views

 
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