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TMNR Day at Birchley
Some while ago I came across the Triang Minic Narrow Gauge Railway website () devised by Mike Slater. This brought back happy childhood memories of riding on the system operated by Butlins at Clacton. From the extensive information on Mike’s site my interest grew and not having seen one of these running since the 1960’s I was more than a tad interested when I became aware of the first annual TMNR day to be held at ‘Birchley’, a private 10¼“ gauge railway owned by Drummond Randall, whilst
Reading the ‘TMNR Times’ the magazine of the TMNR society also produced by Mike Slater.
The 21st September 2008 was fortunately one of the rare sunny and warm weekends this year so I and the family set off not really knowing what to expect. Arriving in the depths of the Kent/Sussex boarder the first impression of Birchley is that this is an
impressive property with an extensive garden, just right for a large miniature railway….but it got better. As we parked by the driveway I soon realised that we had just driven over a substantial tunnel. I soon located the refreshment tent along with Mike and other TMNR members. It was clear this railway was going to take some exploring.
We wondered down to the 3-
Soon after we arrived they embarked on a triple headed run around the short track, short still being quite long in this context. Later in the day I managed to squeeze into a Pullman coach (I seem to have broadened in all directions since those childhood trips at Butlins) and was taken for a run
similar to their smaller ‘00’ products utilising a trackside transformer most if
not all the 35 plus survivors have been fitted with an on-
The line itself is a credit to Drummond. Throughout the aluminium profiled rail which is screwed to wood sleepers is mounted on a concrete base which in view of the extent of the track layout is a remarkable feat of construction in itself. The station has three lines two of which are served by a platform
trees at a number of points whilst gaining some speed. Eventually we arrive at the
end of the line passing another signal box we can continue on to another turn table,
take the left hand branch which in conjunction with the turn table provides a run-
ingenious design in itself. Once the engine has turned and run around the train it pulls us back to the main junction, needing some effort up the steep gradient, where the driver deposits the token back on its post and rejoins the
If you want to find out more about the TMNR’s go to and don’t forget to join the society, its free and you get regular magazines which are in themselves enjoyable and very informative. Happy TMNRing !
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gardens which were stunning enough when we were there but must have been an absolute triumph at the height of the flowering season. From this point the line travels through manicured lawns before dropping steeply down to a junction from where you can turn right aiming toward the tunnel or continue straight on down the branch line. Picking up the branch line token we travel along the edge of a densely wooded area passing close by the
and the atmosphere is added to by the signal box, turntable and engine shed/workshop. Turning right from the station the line meanders through very close fitting hedges before passing in front of the substantial house of some character which is an attraction in itself whilst on the right of the line are attractive formal
down the branch line by George Coles from Northampton driving his TMNR to the far end of the garden which is heavily wooded. The only problem these 45 year old machines seemed to have is with the gauge widening on one or two of the tighter curves. Although Triang supplied the TMNR engines with a track pickup system remarkably
The TMNR members were supplemented on the track by Drummand and his merry band of men driving two steam loco’s and a petrol hydraulic boxcab. There’s little that I can put in writing that adequately conveys the atmosphere and enjoyment of this treasure of a railway and the only way to find out what
its really like is to experience it for
main circuit. Climbing through the cutting into the entrance to the tunnel causes some trepidation and once inside the long curving and extremely dark tunnel one could be forgiven for wondering what you have let yourself in for. Apparently the longest of any tunnel on a UK miniature railway it doesn’t fail to impress at 218 feet long no matter how many times you travel
through it. Emerging into daylight you trundle over a girder bridge spanning an attractive pond before eventually turning right back into the station.
yourself but I have included a rang of pictures below which may wet the appetite. So my thanks to Drummond, Mike and the other TMNRists who made for such an enjoyable day.
|TMNR at Birchley 2008|
|Somme Bay Railway|