All aboard as miniature railway plans to grow

STEAM’S UP: Getting steam up on their Freelance Quarry loco, called Irene, at Saturday’s event in Cutteslowe Park are John Roulstone, front, and Derek Graig

STEAM’S UP: Getting steam up on their Freelance Quarry loco, called Irene, at Saturday’s event in Cutteslowe Park are John Roulstone, front, and Derek Graig Buy this photo

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

OXFORD’S train station is due to expand in a £75m redevelopment and the new line to London Marylebone is well under way but this year could mark yet another railway expansion in the city.

That’s because it’s full steam ahead for the mini-railway in one of Oxford’s parks.

The Cutteslowe Park Miniature Railway has been making tracks since 1988 and the group which runs it hopes to expand the line by more than 300m.

Oxford City Council has said it intends to hand over the necessary loop of land through Cutteslowe Park – and David Price, the secretary of the City of Oxford Society of Model Engineers (COSME), said work could start this winter.

He said: “Subject to planning permission being given, it would be a winter project and we would probably start this winter and we might complete it then as well.

“We have been in negotiations with the council for about a year now and the plan is to take the railway outside the current site that we lease from the council.

“It would be double the size of the current ground level railway.”

Mr Price, who became involved eight years ago through his interest in the railways, said an agreement over the land could be reached within the next month which would allow it to seek planning permission.

The 71-year-old, from Abingdon, said the society is seeking to expand the railway because of its popularity, which he says has been steady for the past three or four years.

The project would cost around £30,000 and would be funded by the income the society receives from tickets, plus possible external funding.

Members of the group, set up in 1946, bring their own model trains to the track on days when it is open and sometimes there are up to 14 operating at any one time.

The mini-railway used to be based at Blenheim Palace but moved to Oxford, where it has a clubhouse and a carriage shed, because the society was unable to meet the palace’s request to run trains every day.

An estimated 25,000 people use the railway, which runs on alternate Sundays, Bank Holiday Mondays and some Wednesdays from late March to the end of October.

Oxford Mail:

  • HERE WE COME: On board a Simplex Rail Motor are Brian Remnant, front, and Morgan Varrier-Smith 

Graham Jones, of the Friends of Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park, said: “Providing all the wrinkles have been ironed out, then our message is good luck to them. They have shown themselves to be an absolute asset to the park.”

Graham Gain, a train enthusiast who came down from Eastcote near Birmingham on Saturday for the Dreaming Spires Rally, said he thought expansion was a good idea.

The 69-year-old said: “It would be wonderful. I know it would be much appreciated by visitors. It is a lovely little location and it is very well supported by the public.”

Sophy Mutch, a spokeswoman for the city council, said: “We are working with COSME to look at helping them expand.

“There are several processes we need to go through to enable this which could result in a planning application.”

 

Making tracks – little line started life in the grounds of Blenheim Palace

Oxford Mail:

  • An event at the railway in 1994
  •  
  • THE Oxford and District Society of Model and Experimental Engineers was set up in 1946.
  • It came under various guises, including the Witney and West Oxfordshire Society of Model Engineers, which was founded in Witney in 1955 and ran trains on portable tracks in the area, as it did not have a permanent base.
  • The Duke of Marlborough became president of the society when it secured a permanent site at Blenheim Palace – the track was built in six months.
  • The last trains ran at Blenheim on September 6, 1987.
  • Plans for a new site in Cutteslowe Park had been drawn up by May 1987 and a lease on the site was arranged with Oxford City Council.
  • The new track was ready for Easter 1988 and the society changed its name to the City 
  • of Oxford Society of Model Engineers.
  • It has now been running 
  • for more than 25 years and operates on alternate Sundays, Bank Holiday Mondays and some Wednesdays from late March to the end of October.
  • The Dreaming Spires Rally is held each year in July.
  • It was awarded money in 2011 from the Big Lottery Fund for a special carriage for elderly and disabled people.

Our top stories:

Flooded out pensioners given only £25 a week in expenses

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Saturday 30th May 2015

TWO pensioners flooded out of their home in Normandy Crescent have been given just £25 a week by Thames Water to cover their expenses.

County police and fire service could share sites to help save cash

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 30th May 2015

POLICE and fire service staff could share office buildings under new plans put forward for “blue light” services in the county.

Didcot power tower demolition confirmed for 2016 as protesters arrive

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 30th May 2015

PROTESTERS started to descend on Didcot yesterday ahead of a demonstration against government plans to build 30 new gas-fired power stations.

‘Affordable NHS housing will help to ease staff shortages’ says chief nurse

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Saturday 30th May 2015

AFFORDABLE housing for workers at one of the county’s hospital trusts is one of its biggest issues as it battles staff shortages, a chief nurse has warned.

Aerial troupe perform ‘striking’ display at Oxford Castle Quarter

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Saturday 30th May 2015

THE historic buildings of Oxford Castle Quarter were lit up for a breathtaking display by French aerial dancers – and that was just the rehearsal.

Rising cost of delayed tower blocks revamp will top £20m

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Friday 29th May 2015

A MULTI-million pound project to refurbish Oxford’s five tower blocks could be delayed by almost a year.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree