Monthly Archives: August 2007

The Middleton Garden Railway

The Middleton Garden Railway is a 5″ scale garden railway in Romford owned by the Middleton family (of Ride On Railways Ltd)

Middleton Garden Railway Footbridge

It includes several impressive features, such as a footbridge, working signals and tunnel/loco storage area.

The line provides a great showcase for Ride On Railways’ products, such as their Trojan, Hercules and Jasper locomotives and rolling stock. Regular open days are held to allow you to get first hand experience before buying, and even have a drive yourself.

Middleton Garden Railway Track Plan

The MGR website is essential reading for anyone even considering building a garden railway, there are many pages showing the evolution of the line, from a simple loop to the pretty complex (for a garden railway) layout you can see above.

Middleton Garden Railway Shed

This really is a fantastic example of an extremely polished garden railway, with what many people would call some very ambitious features. Truely inspiring.

I will update the site again soon with a more in depth look at some of the features of this line.

Pictures used with the kind permission of Ride on Railways.

Going Beyond A Simple Model Railway Layout

Today’s guest article has been written by B. Murphy

At their most basic level, model railroad layouts are simple circles and ovals that
would fit onto a 4×6 sheet of plywood.

These simple track layouts are easy to set up and relatively inexpensive, but they
aren’t really very realistic. After all, with the exception of kids’ rides at the
amusement park, how many trains have you ever seen that just go around in circles?

The Point-to-Point Layout

Real railroads go from one place to another place. They may have sidings, branch
lines, and other subsidiary systems, but the main line starts at one point, travels to
another point, and stops.

Trains are turned around at terminals by means of extensive yards, wyes, loops, and
turntables, but the main line, whether double-track or single-track, goes from point
to point. There are switches and yards at one end, and a turnaround of some sort at
the other.

Despite the point-to-point model railroad’s resemblance to real railroad lines, it
is’nt very successful on a model railroad.

True, in some very large model systems the point-to-point plan has been used, but
in most cases the model railroad cannot possibly approximate the distance traveled
by a real railroad.

If you had the entire Madison Square Garden for your layout, you still wouldn’t be
able to duplicate, in scale mileage, a reasonable point-to-point railroad. In normal
model railroads, the train hardly leaves one terminal before it has arrived at the end
of the line.

No time is allowed for switching operations at the terminals for freight trains to
perform their normal functions, while the express is speeding from terminal to

In a good-sized layout, scenery can handle part of this problem. The express can
rush into a tunnel, where the operator stops it. He then carries on other railroad
business to his heart’s content and, when it is completed, makes his express rush
out of the other end of the tunnel as if it had been traveling hundreds of miles all
the time.

A small layout, however, cannot adopt even this illusion because a small railway has
no room for two genuine terminals.

The Out-and-Home Layout

The out-and-home layout solves part of this problem – it has only one terminal.
This is really a point-to-point system doubled back on itself.

You have a terminal. You send the train out and it travels through farmland and
forest, through villages and mountains, and finally arrives at a terminal. It just
happens to be the same terminal it started from, but you can easily pretend that it

This system gives you a little more mileage between terminals than the point-to-
point system, but in most model railroads the train arrives back home before you
have been able to do much, unless you use the tunnel or other method of hiding the
train that is supposed to be traveling.

While more adaptable to model railroads than point-to-point, it still presents many
problems except on very large layouts.

Both point-to-point and out-and-home layouts can be combined with continuous
pikes, in large layouts, to offer variety and realism—and this is precisely the
procedure used by experienced model railroaders with plenty of space.

For the vast majority, however, the continuous layout is not only best but also
essential for interesting and varied train movements. With a clever use of buildings
and scenery it can also create the many little deceptions that bring a realistic flavor
to the operation of your railroad.

About the Author:

Bill Murphy offers advice about designing, building, maintaining and repairing model
railroads at the Model Train Report website. Find out more about building your own
model railway – sign up for my free “Model Railroad Design Secrets” e-course at

The Strawberry Line – Avon Valley Country Park

The Strawberry Line is Britain’s only commercial ground level 5″ railway.

It is based at Avon Valley Country Park, near Bristol, and currently has 5 steam locomotives and 12 battery powered locomotives.

Strawberry Line Running

This line is obviously much bigger than your average garden railway, but can still provide some good ideas and inspiration for your own line – I recommend visiting it if you are in the area.

Some of my favourite features of this line are the 60ft long tunnel and working water column for steam locos.

For those who aren’t able to travel on this line themselves, I found a cab view video on Youtube:

[youtube width=”425″ height=”335″][/youtube]

Model Garden Railways – Choosing A Scale

Please note: This post deals with model railways. A similar post for miniature railways (such as those you can ride on) will follow.

Before starting to plan your railway, you need to know what size to build it. There are several standard scales available to garden railway owners, each with their own pros and cons. I have discussed some of the more popular scales below…

Model Scales

N and Z

These scales are generally considered far too small for garden railways. The track and scenery will be too small to really apreciate against the backdrop of your garden, and will be easily damaged.


This should be an absolute minimum for a garden railway. It has the advantage of being very widespread – so track, trains and accessories are pretty cheap. However, I would recommend something a little bigger.

G & O

I would recommend using one of these scales for your railway where possible. Their size means that your trains will be easily visible in all parts of the garden, and can make for some impressive detailing.

1:8 & 1:16

These scales will be discussed further in a future post.

Powering Your Railway

Something that will need to be decided early on in the construction of your railway is how you plan to power it.

In the garden, power may create additional problems that it would not cause on an indoor layout.

Electric Track Power

Generally, this is how an indoor layout will be powered. In the garden, dirt (or even insects) may get on to the track which can disrupt the power supply. Regular maintainance of the track is essential if you use this method of power.

Live Steam

Many garden railway owners prefer live steam – it adds realism to any railway – and it’s fun!

This can be more expensive, and is a little more difficult to run, but that will pay off in the enjoyment you will get when running your trains.


Generally this is only viable for larger scales, but batteries may be placed inside your locomotives. This is probably the easiest option (in terms of initial construction and running costs too).

The Heatherburn Garden Railway

Just a quick update today, and a Youtube video that caught my eye.

It shows the (currently under construction, according to the video page) Heatherburn Garden Railway. A 00 gauge line in the North of England.


Some great views of the line, and some nice driver POV shots too!

How To Build A Garden Railway: Choosing A Garden

Track PlanOne of the (potentially) most useful parts of this site will be a guide to how to build a garden railway.

While this should not be considered a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination, it should hopefully provide a good starting point for your own plans.

Depending on how seriously you plan to take your new railway, planning can begin before you even purchase the house where the railway will be built. There are several things that you should be considering which will affect how you build your railway.

Gradient Of The Garden

This is not something that you can always gauge correctly simply by sight, but the gradient of the garden can have a large impact on how you build your railway – especially if you are planning to haul passengers.

Smaller (O gauge or lower) railways will not be affected by this quite so much, as they can be built raised in sections, or earth can be moved easily to accomodate them.

Look out for gardens that are as flat as possible – and try to get a picture of the finished line in your head, to visualise any potential problems with the construction – and how you could overcome them.


The size of the garden is also important – again, especially if you will be building for a gauge big enough to carry people. If the garden is too small, you may be limited by what you can build (in a narrow garden, you may not have enough space to make the track loop round, for example)

I will be discussing this issue further in future posts…

(Photo by fairlightworks)

Welcome To Garden Railways UK!


I’m Steve, and welcome to my site: Garden Railways UK!

I’ll be covering just about everything to do with garden railways in the UK – from visiting them, to building and running your very own.

If you have any suggestions for the new site, please let me know. You can post a comment on most any page on this site.

Thanks for your support