The Society was formed in 1970 with the aim of providing a track for the locomotives, then being built by the founder members at a local night school. A site in Plymouth’s ‘Central Park’ was leased from the City Council and two years hard work saw the completion of a raised track for 3½” and 5″ gauge locomotives. Unfortunately the full potential of this quarter mile of track was not realised due to problems of access. 1981 saw re-planning of the Park with the resultant termination of this lease.
The search for a new site was beset with obstacles and mountains of paperwork. However after 5 long years, the determination of the then Chairman, ‘Sandy’ Goodwin, paid off and a new site was found towards the outskirts of the city, almost to the boundary with Dartmoor. Much discussion ensued, before the format of the site could be agreed upon. Finally a ground level track was built, for 3½”, 5″ and 7¼” gauges, in the form of a double loop with a total length of half a mile and including bridges, crossover and a tunnel. 120,000 cubic metres of fill and top soil was required, along with much effort to produce the required ground profile. This has since been planted with many trees and bushes to produce a semi wild conservation area, which continues to develop, with an increasing range of wild flora and fauna.
The official opening, by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth took place in April 1990, by which time a 7¼” narrow gauge 0-4-0 ‘Wren’ called ‘Hernia’ had been acquired to provide the passenger service. The opening day turned out fine and with a number of visitors and a busy day ensued. A small brick built store provided the required facilities and doubled as a clubhouse. Regular operation for the benefit of the public and members have occurred since then on the first and third Sundays from April until October.
The site, named ‘Goodwin Park’ has now been designated as one of a group of Nature Reserves within the City and the trees planted in the early days, are growing well and have been supplemented with additional plantings. We have also adopted the name of ‘Bramble Valley Line’ as a result of the prolific crops that can be collected each Autumn.
PLYMOUTH MINIATURE STEAM TODAY.
After more than 20 years on the site, the surroundings have changed beyond almost all recognition as they have matured. We now have a larger store and a second Wren called ‘Fred’ supported by 2 battery electric locomotives for the busier running days. The signalling system has recently been refurbished and is being extended.
We continue to meet and operate a service for the public on the first and third Sundays from April to October. We also meet for the benefit of members on the second Sunday of the month. Every week during school term time, some of our members meet at a local secondary school to make use of the facilities and where we run an informal training scheme for beginners, both young and not so young. We also meet at least twice a year for other social gatherings to exchange information and ideas.
Whilst the majority of our members have interests in railways, our interests are much wider, including; Traction Engines, Stationary Engines, Clocks, Bicycles, Internal Combustion Engines, Gardening Equipment and many more!