How It Started

History

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Jim history

Jim Haylock and Talos took a prominent role advertising Tinkerbell class locomotives in the Severn Lamb railway catalogue in the early 1980’s.

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Maldon Club

Left: Jim Haylock and Roger Marsh in Talos and Tinkerbell respectively at the Echills Wood Railway in 1978. Right: Talos and Tinkerbell at Moors Valley Railway in 2018.

1980

Founder Jim Haylock had been interested in railways from a young age, and after a 20 year career in the carpet and upholstery business, he decided the time was right to set up his own railway.

In 1980, he found a suitable site in Tucktonia Theme Park in Christchurch, and created the Tuckton Railway. This was the forerunner of the railway we know and love today.

Tucktonia was best known for its large model village layout which included a representation of London. Bekonscot Model Village in Buckinghamshire provided inspiration.

Tinkerbell, Talos, Medea and Sapper all ran at this fascinating piece of railway history.

After 5 years, Jim decided he needed to move the railway to a better location, and heard that the council was creating a new country park at Moors Valley.

After changing hands a number of times, Tucktonia eventually closed in 1986, replaced by retirement housing.

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Concept art

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1985

Up until 1985, Moors Valley was a dairy farm called Kings Farm.

The original farm buildings were ideal to use for the main station. Cattle stalls were altered to accommodate a carriage shed, engine shed and shop, and the milking parlour was transformed into the workshop.

A skin of brickwork was laid across the front of the buildings in a traditional railway style.

Something about the line…

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The tunnels were created using sewage pipes overfilled with the soil removed from the construction of the lake. The tunnels created the access to the park and play areas that you see today.

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Spiral bridge

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1986

The railway opened on 26th July 1986 with a single track connection to what later became Lakeside Station and the first loop of the spiral around the children’s play area.

Kings Junction originated as the entrance point to the single line where a token system was operated to ensure only one train occupied the line at any one time.

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1988

The bottom part of the spiral was opened.

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Lakeside Crossing construction

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East Box was completed around a 28 lever Stevens frame from Becton Gas Works in London. More recently, a miniature 12 lever frame has been installed to control movements around the extended carriage shed and station avoiding line.

On normal running days, the signalling system is automatic, enabling the railway to run without a signalman present.

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1989

The refreshment kiosk, ticket office, waiting room and West Box were added at Kingsmere Station.

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Mid-day limited

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Lakeside Station opened as a shuttle platform.

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1995

The track was doubled in 1995. The main ride is now one mile long, but the total track length including sidings is about one and a half miles.

Approximately 8000 sleepers, 500 tons of ballast and 100 tons of road stone have been used in the construction of the track.

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In the winter of 1995-6, Lakeside platform was rebuilt to include the main line platform so that all trains stop at Lakeside, giving passengers a choice of return or single journeys.

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Portable railway

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2007

In 2007, there was an essential extension to the carriage shed. This was to enable secure storage of the ever expanding rolling stock fleet. It also provided a much larger venue to host model railway exhibitions and Santa’s Grotto at Christmas.

An extra siding was also added, in addition to a station avoiding line and associated signals for non-passenger working.

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2008

Tinkerbell 40

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Garden railway rebuild

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2013

In 2013 we started to re-lay the railway after nearly 30 years of operation. We started down in the spiral section of the railway that was notorious for flooding when there was heavy rainfall.

A far more efficient drainage system was installed to help reduce the risk of flooding in the future.

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2016

In 2016 the railway celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary, during a special event we acknowledged the success of the railway over the past 30 years.

During this time, the railway has designed and built no fewer than 15 steam and 2 diesel locomotives in the railway workshop, alongside 45 passenger carrying coaches and numerous freight wagons.

We have carried hundreds of thousands of passengers around the country park and created experiences that bring people back time and time again.

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2018

2018 saw the 50th Anniversay of Tinkerbell, the oldest engine on the railway.

Tinkerbell is famous around the world for being the first 7¼″ gauge locomotive of narrow gauge proportions where the driver sits inside the cab of the locomotive. This design has not only inspired what you see today at Moors Valley Railway but railways around the world.

At the celebrations in 2018 we welcomed over 15 other Tinkerbell type locomotives coming from as far as the Netherlands.

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2020

Covid

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2023

South Yard

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80’s & 2010’s aeriel shots

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