With twelve major railways, thousands of trains run through the capital each day. But at just 7 ¼ inches wide, Brockwell Park Miniature Railway is not only London’s smallest railway, it’s also the cheapest and visitors travel hundreds of miles to ride it.
Train enthusiast John Roberts, 66, bought the train after it was built in 2003. According to John, the Lambeth-based railway is the only miniature railway currently operating in London. Despite the journey lasting a mere two minutes, families from as far as York travel hundreds of miles to ride the unusual train.
John, from Brixton, told MyLondon: “We don’t know whether the adults have more fun on the train or the children. There are times when we actually carry more adults than we do carry children. Sometimes it takes us a good few hours to get through the queue.”
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(Image: John Roberts)
Just a two minute walk from Herne Hill station, the miniature railway – which John believes to be the only one in London – now runs between Herne Hill Gates and Brockwell Lido for 220 metres at just £1 a ticket. Despite the rising costs of living in London, the railway has never increased its ticket prices since being built.
Train drivers operate the train on Sundays from March to October between 11am and 4 pm. At its highest speed, the train can reach seven miles per hour. Yesterday (March 27), however, the railway was forced to close after a tree fell on the tracks. According to John, finding manufacturers and engineers capable of fixing miniature railways remains difficult.
“The hardest part is maintaining the tracks and keeping them in operational condition,” he said. “The pandemic also had a big impact on us. One more lockdown would have shut us down for good and there would have been no coming back from it.”
Earlier in March, the railway re-opened earlier for the first time in 2022 and, despite having a slow start to the year, the team are working hard to earn the funds needed to cover next year’s £1,000 insurance.
“We have a great relationship with the local community and we’re there for the community,” said John. “We’re not there to make a profit and we’ll keep going as long as we have the funds to pay the running costs and insurance.”
(Image: John Roberts)
On top of being London’s shortest train ride, the miniature railway is also of historical significance as it is relayed close to the formation of the original railway from the 1950s. Nothing remains from the original railway except the foundations of the ticket office located at the entrance to Herne Hill Gates station.
Each Sunday the train, which weighs just under half a tonne, has to be transported onto the track by the volunteers running the railway. Although the track is currently linear, John plans to extend the railway with the council’s permission. To support John and his team, click here .
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