The Norramby Miniature Railway - A History

A History of The Norramby Miniature Railway

CONCEPTION
Around the mid 1990s, Norramby Town Council harboured plans to restore and redevelop their seafront complex. Investors in the area wanted to revitalise the town’s economy and their own prosperity, and put forward proposals for new tourist attractions for the area. The one that found the most favour was the construction of a small 12 in gauge line running from the outskirts of the town to the sea-front, around a distance of a mile. Sir Topham Hatt formally encouraged the idea and agreed to the sale of an adequate patch of land adjacent to his own station in the town, to provide a small station and facilities including locomotive and carriage sheds and workshops.

CONSTRUCTION & OPENING

Defunct open passenger stock from the Arlesdale Railway was later donated for regauging and adaptation into new roofed stock for the new Norramby line. Construction of the line was straightforward, going through previously undeveloped land along the sea front, and making use of some defunct NWR’s sidings, the Norramby yard having been scaled back.

The route chosen takes the line on a 180 degree turn out of the station yard to the right. From here, the line runs across the main road and along the seafront, giving spectacular views of the bay before reaching a terminus at Norramby Beach.  The arrival of the railway opened up a number of opportunities for associated seasonal attractions to run during the spring and summer months, with boat rides across the bay being a perrenial favourite among tourists.

The engines bought for the line came from various sources.  The railway required two serviceable steam engines and a Diesel as a back-up, and managed to acquire these with little difficulty.  The management of the railway admired the versatility of the range and the different capabilities that would be available to them with a replica K1 Garratt, a large tank engine and a small Diesel.  After the regauging and overhaul of Roger, the railway opened for it’s first proper season of operation in mid March 1998.

NEW LOCOMOTIVE
As the first season progressed, the railway exceeded the expectations of the town council, and that of the management itself.  The decision was made to buy up a fourth locomotive to help with the increasing workload.  Whilst public opinion swayed in the direction of another steam locomotive, the maintenance crews argued for a second Diesel locomotive in case Louise broke down.  At first, there was a quandry over how to deal with the problem - until a solution was found in North Yorkshire.

The North Bay Railway in Scarborough had been running with steam-outline Diesel Hydraulics since the 1930s, and the Manager saw this as an ideal solution to the problem he was currently facing.  The frames for a new locomotive were quickly cut, and an engine was put on order from Crovans Gate Works to complete the task.

EXTENSION TO NEW ZOO
In 2004, Norramby Town Council decided to capitalise further upon the success that the railway had brought back to the town, and open a new attraction to entice more visitors.  Plans were put in place for a zoo to be built on the outskirts of the town, and in a bid to reward the railway and its management for their contribution to reviving the town's flagging fortunes, they offered the option for an extension to the new zoo beyond the current terminus of Beach Halt.

The Zoo opened in 2007, with Roger pulling the first train into the new station.  The initiative has been a very successful venture, with the Norramby Miniature Railway being used as a park and ride service for the town's other major tourist attractions such as the beach and the zoo.