Plymouth Miniature Steam, sometimes referred to as Plymouth’s best kept secret. Hidden away in a nature reserve in Plymouth’s Southway valley is a “Live steam” miniature railway, this railway is open to the public for rides on the first and third Sundays of each month April to October. It travels through woods over bridges and through tunnels to arrive at the station in time for teas and cakes. Delighting the younger children and the not so young, in fact there are as many grandparents as youngsters that come to see the trains and anything else of a model engineering nature that may be on display at the time. Plymouth Miniature Steam as a group are made up of Model Engineers, Steam enthusiasts and railway nuts who have over many years developed the railway as part of their hobby, the members have built the Steam engines, Diesel Electrics, and the rolling Stock which carries the passengers so competently around this almost 1km track. Many of the members have built and own their own engines, some also have large scale traction engines and steam engines of many different types. Whilst some of the Model engineers have their own workshops, work and training is also being carried out at the Local “Tor Bridge High School” workshops where an apprenticeship scheme is being run to introduce youngsters and adult members into engineering and practical skills.
‘We are quite often asked how long have you been here in the valley? When we reply nearly thirty years we get replies of disbelief sometimes from locals who live less than 0.5 km away. The railway was opened in 1990 by the then Lord Mayor Councillor Dennis Dicker with our first Locomotive which is aptly named “Hernia” as most of the workers after building and carrying the engine claimed they had one!
The club has been in the Plymouth area for many years and references to large exhibitions in the City Centre go back to 1947, the club originally had a raised level track in Central Park, from about 1970 but then had to move location during the 1980’s due to the building of the “Mayflower Sports Centre” . The building of the Southway Railway sometimes called “Goodwin park” was led by the then chairman Sandy Goodwin and the site is named after him. The minor miracle of change that has taken place over 35 years is amazing. The site was originally used as a council tip and after world war two had been used to deposit bomb damage rubble from the blitzed city centre. Sandy Goodwin organised lorry loads of topsoil and earth moving equipment over two years totalling over 3,500 tonnes to achieve the landscaped woodland that we now have with mature trees and dense undergrowth that encourages wildlife. Thankfully the “ Manpower Services Commission” an organisation set up in those days to help train and find employment for the unemployed youth, helped with some of the track laying work and lighter landscaping.
Today we see a vibrant club who provide an appreciated service to the community in Southway by caring for the woodland associated with the railway, and also a source of fun and entertainment during its public running days for children and the childlike who appreciate little trains . We would ask that any visitors to the area be mindful of our neighbours and not cause a nuisance from noise or careless parking, and also not disturb the wildlife and parkland.
If interested in joining Plymouth Miniature Steam and helping to run our railway or take part in Model engineering activities please call the above on 01822 852479 or speak to a member of staff during our running days at Pendeen Crescent , Southway. Plymouth. PL6 6RE.
Running days occur on the first 3 Sundays each month from April to October, rides for the public are 90 pence on the first and third Sundays (see Events) and a member’s only day on the second Sunday.