Watford Miniature Railway – 60th Birthday

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Cruising around the miniature railway as an 8 year old back in 1978 I remember this as a fond experience, roll on to 2019 and I am back on the ride for the 60th anniversary. Some 40 years later it brings back good memories as many other people found out when they went to the celebration in Cassiobury Park on the 27th / 28th April 2019.

Despite storm Hannah whipping up its winds lots of people came out to take their kids on the Watford Miniature Railway and share the experience. There was music over the two days from Tony Oliver Quintet & Trinity Swing band with singing from the North Watford Community Choir. The Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor was joined by the current owner Charles O’Mahoney and the previous owner Jeff Price to give a speech before the cutting of the cake.

Mayor Peter Taylor, Rudi Newman & Charles O’Mahoney

In the Cassiobury Park Hub, there was an exhibition of the history of the Watford Railway with photographs going back through the years. The SW Herts model Railway Society had some model trains running, there was a replica of Cassiobury Park built by Oliver Price & Sam Tyler.

Model of Cassiobury park miniature train by Oliver Price & Sam Tyler.

For the children, there was free face painting by BlueOrangeImages and a magic show which the kids really enjoyed. Not many kids wanted Thomas the tank engine on their face!

Face painting with Blue Orange Images.

History

The miniature railway began at Easter in 1959 by Charles Reed, he built it in Cassiobury Park, Watford after searching around for a perfect site for it. The celebration was organised by Cassiobury Park Hub and by Dr Rudi Newman. Rudi Newman has written a book about Watford’s Miniature Railway, called Steaming to Sixty, which is a good read. It covers the background to how the railway came into being and the history of the various owners. It is sometimes known as the Cassiobury Park Line and is the longest running park railway in the UK. It has been enjoyed by many generations over the 60 years, below is a quote from the new owner Charles O’Mahoney who took over in 2017 and has lots of plans for the future. Find out more about these plans on their website which is listed below.

For generations, the railway has been part of a visit to the park for local residents. We regularly have visitors who rode as a child returning now with their children or grandchildren, and in fact, three generations of my family have ridden on the train here as children. I don’t think there is a park railway anywhere else that has that strength of social history. Not many miniature railways survive beyond 20 years so it is remarkable we have reached our 60th birthday. We have very basic facilities – we don’t even have mains power or water – and we really want to improve these and the experience for our visitors. By improving what we have I hope the railway can ultimately reach its centenary in 2059!
Charles O’Mahoney

Dr Rudi Newman’s book on the history of the miniature railway.

Rudi Newman’s book can be purchased here, in the book you will find out about the various locomotives that ran on the line over the years. The line originally had two engines, one of which was called Maid Marion, in the 1990s there were eight working engines. These were mainly diesel but recently steam was brought back with the reintroduction of Marri which you can see today.

Steam engine Marri

Photographs

Below are a selection of photographs taken on the day, more can be found on my Flickr account. If you have enjoyed a trip on the miniature railway in Cassiobury Park leave a comment below.

Friends of Cassiobury Park stand

Rudi Newman giving a talk on the history of the Watford railway.

Exhibition in the Hub

Photographs throughout the years in the park.

Mayor Peter Taylor & Rudi Newman

Dr Rudi Newman

Miniature railway steam train

Caution level crossing

journey through the park

Ready to go

Dave & Yvette Horton, owners of WMR steam loco Chiltern Shuttle, who met & got married as a result of working at WMR.

Cake cutting

Malcolm Webb & Charles O’Mahoney cutting the cake

Trinity Swing playing in the park

South West Herts Model Railway Society

Scouts taking a ride

Trinity Swing on the train

Enjoying the train ride

Enjoying the train ride

passengers on the train

Chu chu cakes at Daisy in the Park which is located in the Hub

North Watford Community Choir

Tony Oliver Quintet playing on Saturday

Thanks for reading my blog, you can follow me on the link below and see more photographs taken on the day. Leave a comment below if you have good memories as a child riding on the miniature railway.

Links

Watford Railway – https://watfordrailway.co.uk
Cassiobury Park Hub – https://www.facebook.com/cassioburypark
Flickr Photos – https://www.flickr.com/photos/alalchan/albums/72157677979582607
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/alalchan
BBC story – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-48027886

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