Welcome to the FSMR History page of the
Following the untimely death of the Third Lord (John) Gretton, Lady Jenny Gretton, agreed to allow a small group of enthusiasts mostly connected with the original operations, to look at the feasibility of restoring the railway to its former glory, and ultimately, even achieve some of Johns dreams.
The Friends of the Stapleford Miniature Railway was formed back in Jan 92, with Lady Gretton as Chairman.
Initially, the tasks involved making the locomotives serviceable again, and clearing track lines of weeds and encroaching undergrowth. The section from what is now the triangle head shunt had been severed before the old level crossing of the main access road to the Hall. The track was re-modelled to create a shunt and triangle with access to the main line, now straight out from the car park station, now the only station.
Unfortunately, the scale liners had long since disappeared, one having succumbed to the legendary steel worm, and the other sold to location unknown.
The Locomotives were stored in the old cafe, which served as "temporary" loco shed, and were moved by bomb trailer up to the station when motive power was required. Some stock was also stored in the tunnel, and others stacked in the old cafe.
A link line was then added to connect the cafe to the main line, and an ash-pit installed. Lots of other work was involved in getting to this stage, I apologise for being so brief.
In Spring 1994, it was discovered that the original tunnel was in a very poor state, and could not be repaired. This was due to the very wet ground conditions, causing the shallow foundations to move, as it was not on rafts of concrete.
In May 1994, the railway ran for one last weekend for the FSMR members, before the track was lifted and the tunnel demolished. The original lakeside portal, based on Primrose hill, was retained, with about 6 feet of the entrance, the other end based on the GWR "Box" tunnel was taken down apart from the edges of the ramparts. The stones being carefully marked for subsequent re-building.
Under the design by one of the FSMR members who happened to be a structural engineer / architect, the cutting line was excavated and a new concrete base installed. Ample drainage pipes were installed on both sides, due to the various springs in the locality. The track was then relayed temporarily to allow the works train to access the site. The cutting track down to the lake was lifted at the same time, and the whole cutting excavated and widened, and new drainage installed. Concrete blocks were then brought down from the materials store at the station, as they were required. They were then built up using reinforcing rods, and the centres filled with concrete, again all mortar and concrete being mixed at the station and trained down. The works train having two special wagons for this purpose.
Box tunnel portal in the 80’s after closure
The stonework was carefully dismantled except for the abutments and then rebuilt after the tunnel was completed
Picture shows the construction scene in April 95
The works train is standing complete with blocks, pre-manufactured mortar tub, and wagon load of very runny concrete for block in-filling
The "Box" end remaining portal ramparts can just be made out top picture at the end of the block wall. The sharp curve of the line can be seen from here.
The walls are of double block construction, and are about 8 feet high and 7 feet between. The tunnel is built on a curve, although the radius was increased from the original to improve alignment.
The tunnel is built in sections, each on its own concrete raft, and insulated from its neighbour, that way, small ground movements will not cause any structural damage A small room to one side was included, originally for a generator to power the haven, but is used now for storage of line-side equipment. The tunnel also has to take a farm crossing, so heavy steel support beams are used at this point. A steam road roller has since tested their integrity!
The whole roof structure then had pre-cast concrete lintels installed complete with the obligatory twin brick air shafts!
Diesel and works train on the temporary construction track, in the part finished tunnel June 1995. The walls are up, but some alternate roof lintels require installing, hence the strange lighting effect. Picture taken from the Primrose portal, shows the original piece of tunnel that was retained with the portal. Note the difference in loading gauge, part of the problem with the old tunnel, in case of maintenance or derailments.
Finally, the "Box" portal was rebuilt, and track ballasted and relayed, through to the cutting, and the whole workings re-graded. The work being completed in early August
Primrose Hill portal after the rebuild in summer 1995
That summer, the railway held its first public open day since 1982, at the end of August LOROS steam event. In the September, the Tunnel was officially re-opened by Lady Gretton, and also at the same event in front of specially invited guests, the Green was renamed "John H Gretton", in memory of her late husband.
Following on to this seems quite mild, but lots of subtle changes and improvements continue with the station being re modelled, to include two equal length platforms, both with a straight out main line connection rather than the original single line, this allows full length trains to use both platforms to access the main line allowing maximum utilisation
LH pic Station after the extended platform has been added to the right
RH pic shows the new track in place, with stock on the link line to the right
(there is now a fence along this edge)
This required the on site manufacture of various points, plus a switched diamond. All air controlled from the signal box, with interlocking of signals. This allows the railway to run close to its maximum capacity, with the ability to load and unload on two trains simultaneously.
New diamond point under construction
And the gap in the station approach lines requiring the new diamond
Also in place of the old cafe, a brand new purpose built loco shed and shower / toilet block was provided by Lady Gretton for the FSMR to which we are all, very grateful.
The old café building which served as the loco shed in the formative first years of the FSMR as it is being demolished
At the same time, two access roads into the shed were incorporated, allowing a complete revamp of the steaming area to include two roads out, each with ash-pits and a centre service siding. This makes operations much easier as engines are easily accessed and serviced, rather than having to queue up as before. The traverser inside was re-laid to give access to both roads in and out, with 4 stabling roads inside the shed.
The new purpose built engine shed with twin access ash pit roads
A working replica water tower has been installed at the station complete with linked watering points at various strategic places, allowing treated water to be fed at high capacity to the locos, enabling a rapid turn around during public events.
These are just a small insight into the work that is constantly occurring on the railway, all the time.
Of course, it is not all hard work
.We run the railway for our friends and families throughout the year.
One of the regular members only events is the annual New Years day run
Sometimes we even get some snow!!
The FSMR is strictly an invitation only group, and is limited on membership, however some new members have been allowed to join recently. All members start off as associates, and must put in the required commitment during the year to be considered for full membership, allowing guaranteed opportunities to learn to drive and fire, and ultimately be passed out on a steam loco. They can however stay as associates with no requirement to work, and still ride on the train during FSMR steaming weekends if they wish.
If you are interested and feel you could add to the railway, please email me for a chat