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Blenheim Park Railway is a 15 in (381 mm) gauge miniature railway operating in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, England.

Blenheim Park Railway
BlenheimParkRy-fromPG2-2013-07.jpg
LocaleBlenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England
Dates of operation1975–
Track gauge15 in (381 mm)
Length1,000 yards (910 m)

HistoryEdit

The railway opened in 1975[1] as a tourist attraction within 'The Pleasure Gardens', an area of visitor facilities inside the grounds of the Palace, but some distance from the house itself. Miniature railway operating company 'Pleasurerail' operated the service on a short out-and-back line. There were no passing loops or run-round loops, so the line was push-pull operated. The original locomotive was named Sir Winston Churchill (not to be confused with the current locomotive of the same name), and was later joined by locomotives Muffin and Tracy-Jo.

Later DevelopmentEdit

The facilities at The Pleasure Gardens include a maze, a plant centre, a cafeteria, the popular butterfly house, and the main car park for visitors. The railway was adapted to provide an actual transport facility between the Pleasure Gardens and Blenheim Palace itself, and during the tourist season trains run in each direction every half hour.[2] The line is now an end-to-end operation laid out roughly in the shape of a figure '7', and extending over a distance of 1,000 yards (910 m). There are run-round loops at each terminal station, and there was a central passing loop allowing the operation of two trains. This loop has now had one set of points removed, thus changing it into a siding. The line also has a three-road engine and stock storage shed.

2013/14 ReplacementEdit

 
The new (2014) coaches and locomotive in service.

Over the winter of 2013/14 the original passenger carriages were replaced with new carriages constructed by Alan Keef Engineering. A new engine named simply Winston also entered service, replacing the locomotive Anna which was sold.[3] A 31 m (100 ft) tunnel was added which also serves as a storage shed for the new carriages, and as a result of this investment a small charge was introduced to cover the costs.[4]

Rolling stockEdit

Passenger carriagesEdit

The three original passenger carriages were 16-seat semi-open vehicles, painted dark green, with canvas canopy type roofs originally made in Germany in the 1930s. In 1994 a fourth matching coach was built by Alan Keef.[5] These vehicles remained in service until 2014, when they were sold.

Four new passenger carriages entered service in 2014. They are also 16-seat semi-open vehicles, painted dark green and red, but with fixed roofs and facilities for disabled access. They were built by Alan Keef.

LocomotivesEdit

Locomotive Name Locomotive Type Year of Building Builder In service Notes Image
Sir Winston Churchill 4-6-2 1949 Guest (G&SLE) No Steam. Black livery. At Blenheim from 1975 until 1982.[6] [1]
Muffin 0-6-0 1967 Berwyn Engineering of Chippenham No Steam. At Blenheim for a short while with Pleasurerail.
Tracey-Jo 2-6-2 1964 Guest Engineering & Maintenance (Ltd) No Diesel (steam outline). At Blenheim from 1975 until 1981.[7]
Anna 4-6wDM 1960 Guest (G&SLE) No Diesel. Green livery. Sold in 2014. [2]
Sir Winston Churchill 0-6-2 DH 1992 Alan Keef Yes Diesel (steam outline). Red livery (originally green).  
Winston 0-6-0 DH 2013 Alan Keef Yes Diesel (steam outline). Red livery. Principal engine from 2014.  

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ See entry at Miniature Railway World.
  2. ^ "Pleasure Gardens". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  3. ^ "All aboard for new train to Blenheim Palace attractions". 28 February 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  4. ^ "LITTLE RED ENGINE INHERITS ILLUSTRIOUS NAME" (PDF). 17 February 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Keef, Alan M. A Tale of Many Railways: An Autobiography and History of Alan Keef Ltd. Lightmoor Press. ISBN 978-1899889303.
  6. ^ "5751 at Dudley Zoo". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Details of the rolling stock which operates on the Bure Valley Railway". Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.

Coordinates: 51°50′20″N 1°21′02″W / 51.8389°N 1.3505°W / 51.8389; -1.3505