Author Archives: steve

Working with a steep garden – terracing

6115480471_2f30a88ea9_bIf you have a steep garden, terracing is a great way to make your garden more attractive and useful.

Realistically, if your garden has too extreme a gradient, you’re not going to be able to run trains up them without serious problems. While you may have to make some compromises on your layout with a terraced garden, it’s better than the alternative of not doing it at all!

As these things tend to be, it can sometimes seem an intimidating project to start, especially with no previous experience. It can be useful to browse the Internet for some inspiration and see what others have done with their gardens – especially if they’ve managed to incorporate a railway.

As well as making your garden look more attractive, terracing stops rain water washing all of the soil and nutrients to the end of the garden, and allowing more than weeds to grow.

Terracing can allow you to separate more than one railway line from eachother, perhaps with different plants in each area to add extra interest.

DSC01059Depending on your timescale and budget, there are a few different options for achieving this. The more long term – though unfortunately tending to be the most expensive – is to use stone walls. You could also use wood, but you’ll be doing more ongoing maintenance.

Make no mistake, this is a serious project in terms of time – and you’ll be amazed by how much earth needs to be dug up. It may be worth speaking to a professional landscape gardner – even if just for an initial consultation and assistance with planning things. Their fee may end up saving you time and money in the long term!

Images by Lynn Friedman and Elanor Martin.

Where to start: Purchasing Locomotives

This is the first in a series of posts aimed at those who would like to build a railway in their garden but have no idea where to start. We were all beginners once!

When just dipping your toes in to the waters of garden railway construction, you almost certainly want to do things on a budget – there’s no sense getting carried away at the start before you know what you really want. You don’t want to end up with “all the gear and no idea”.

The obvious choice is eBay – conventional wisdom nowadays says that if something exists, you’ll find it on eBay, and this is true for garden railway locomotives. The <a href=’’>trains & railway models</a> category is vast, with just about every common item available.

This is fine for the smaller/more common scales, but if you’re after a locomotive capable of carrying human passengers – perhaps in 5″ or 7 1/4″ gauge, you may prefer to look to a specialist supplier. Some of these can be found below:

  • Polly Model Engineering
  • Compass House
  • Ride on Railways
  • Maxitrak
  • Station Road Steam

Purchasing this kind of locomotive is a significant investment in your railway, but costs can be kept down by purchasing in kit form (and what better way to learn exactly how it works?) and building it yourself – or considering a second hand locomotive. Most of the suppliers above carry listings for second hand locos in addition to their own ranges.

Garden Railways in the Snow

With the UK covered with another blanket of snow, it’s important to look after your railway.

If snow has brought down branches, check to make sure they have not damaged your railway.

It may also be a good idea to clear the snow from the tracks and any other accessories – you wouldn’t want anybody stepping on them and breaking them!

As the video below shows, this doesn’t have to be a boring job 🙂


Interview: James Thomas, East Croydon Light Railway

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to have a chat with James Thomas, owner of the East Croydon Light Railway.

The ECLR is a small “OO” gauge line in James’ garden, set in Croydon itself during the 1940s.

What inspired you to model this area?

I grew up in Croydon myself, so the railway has always been a big part of my life. My father worked on the railways during the war, so my early years were filled with stories about trains.

How long have you been modelling railways?

I’ve had an indoor layout for a number of years, but I’ve always wanted to do something more useful with the garden. It’s rather small, so there’s not much else that it could be useful for.

How have you coped with the recent bad weather?

It’s not been very nice, but I’ve wrapped up warm and gone out to have a quick play on a number of occasions lately. It’s such a waste to have it sat out there not being enjoyed.

What did you find most challenging in building your line?

The most challenging part was actually at the planning stage. I had to do a lot of research to make sure I got the look of everything right. I think it really paid off in the end though.

The modelling itself was more fun for me – and I had plenty of family and friends willing to give me some assistance.

Look out for the next part of this interview, coming soon.

Top 10 Reasons To Have a Garden Railway

  • 10. Let’s start with the obvious – it’s fun!
  • 9. They help you learn new skills, and rediscover old ones
  • 8. A great conversation piece – how many people have a working railway in their garden?
  • 7. Social aspects are great. Everyone wants to lend a hand and have a go
  • 6. There’s always something new to add, or something that you might want to change
  • 5. The satisfaction of running your first train
  • 4. It makes your garden a whole lot more interesting
  • 3. On a related note, it encourages you to take care of your garden to keep your line looking nice!
  • 2. They’re great fun for the kids
  • 1. Be honest, it’s what you’ve always wanted and dreamed of since you were a child – treat yourself!

Model Railway Clubs

Over the coming weeks and months, we plan to feature different model railway clubs on this website, especially those which focus mainly on outdoor modelling.

If you’d like your club to be featured, and get a chance to show off the things you’ve been working on, leave a comment here and we’ll see what we can do 🙂

Make sure you include your email address in the correct box so we can contact you for some more information, photos etc. Email addresses are not viewable by the general public.

Start Planning Your Garden Railway!

The winter climate of the UK is not ideally suited to constructing railways in your garden – but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on your line 🙂

This is the time in which you should be planning out things for the future – drawing track plans, purchasing track and stock, and getting a good idea of what you need to do when the weather brightens up.

This will help you get started on building as soon as possible – and, of course, get you running your trains as soon as possible!