History & Construction – The Beginning
Making a start
Construction of the Acton Miniature railway started in 2004. The original track layout was very simple with a loop at ‘Depot Approach’ and a single line up to the current location of the point into the loco servicing siding.
[Photos copyright: C. Howard]
Opening and the first year
The railway opened to the public on Saturday 26th February 2005 during the Museum’s ‘London Transport in Miniature’ open weekend.
Sam Mullins, Director of London’s Transport Museum, cut the ribbon and shortly after, the Little Red Train operated the first passenger service.
Despite the sub-zero temperatures and a brief snow shower on the Sunday, the LTMR’s first weekend (then known as the Acton Miniature Railway) was very successful with a three train service in operation and 879 tickets sold over the course of the weekend.
The June weekend saw the first temporary signals installed on the railway, to ensure that operation was as safe as possible. After the October open weekend, the railway had carried over 1,900 passengers.
Winter 2005/6 work
The winter of 2005/6 saw much work taking place to extend the railway. This included:
[Photos copyright: C. Howard]
A locomotive servicing siding was added between Harrison’s Crossing and the end of the line. This provided further stock storage space and a place to service steam locomotives away from the passengers.
The line was also extended further towards what is now Wesley’s Halt.
In late 2005, the railway was donated a loco and two wagons, giving the railway its first resident stock. The loco could not have been more suitable, being a model of Metropolitan Railway ‘Metrovick’ electric loco No. 12 ‘Sarah Siddons’.
The prototype is preserved and has been used to run special trains on the London Underground network.
The loco and wagons were all built to 7½in gauge, rather than the LTMR’s 7¼in, but have since been regauged, with Sarah Siddons making her debut on passenger services in March 2008.
March 4/5 saw the first open weekend of the year, along with the first steam hauled trains on the Acton Miniature Railway.
The railway operated an intensive three train service and proved very popular, carrying over 1000 passengers during the weekend despite the cold weather.
On static display were Sarah Siddons, and a part-completed Metropolitan Railway ‘A Class’ loco.
After the May open weekend, work began on the extension to the new passing loop, since named Wesley’s Halt.
Tracklaying occurred in August and the loop was brought into use for the October open weekend, albeit without being used for passing trains.
The new loop came into its own in March 2007 when, in combination with new signalling, it enabled the operation of a very efficient 3-train service.
2007 was a year of transition for the railway. Wesley Quilty, who was one of the main driving forces behind the construction of the railway, sadly passed away in May. In his honour, the passing loop was renamed ‘Wesley’s Halt’.
2008 saw a great deal of progress on the railway, with a permanent Signal Cabin installed, complete with a Westinghouse ‘N’ style lever frame from the LT Museum’s collection.
The Depot Approach area was also completely remodelled, with the departure line becoming the arrivals track and the former siding track becoming the new departure line. This was to allow construction of a permanent platform (so that passengers do not need to queue on the road) and also gives departing trains a clear run up the 1 in 60 gradient.
2009 saw further improvements at the Depot Approach end of the line, with as concrete platform being provided for the departures line. A permanent ticket office followed in time for the October open weekend.
In mid 2010, a mess room was also delivered, providing secure and dry accommodation for volunteers and their belongings.
The opposite end of the railway also saw work, with more track being laid beyond Wesley’s Halt towards Ealing End. The siding next to the signal cabin had extra track panels installed, and an extra point to provide a ‘display siding’. Preparation has also been carried out for an eventual carriage shed.
Signalling work continued, with further improvements to the lever frame, track circuits, and the fitting of (much brighter) LED lights to the signal heads.
The Railway continued to grow, eventually reaching the originally proposed terminus at Ealing End. A permanent fence was built to protect against vehicles whilst picket fences were built to replace the temporary barriers used during the open weekends.
Unfortunately, some of the railways masterminds moved away at the end of the 2017. It was the perfect chance to review how to enhance the railway and the newly reformed London Transport Miniature Railway opened to the public in September 2018.
Ongoing work includes continuing the extension into the museum yard, installation of the signalling and ongoing track and rolling stock maintenance.
The eventual aim is to extend into the museum’s back yard, beyond the current Ealing End terminus.