1970’s – Founding the society
The Plymouth Miniature Steam Society was formed in 1970 with the aim of providing a track for locomotives that were 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 after two years of hard work a raised track for 3½” and 5″ gauge locomotives was completed. Unfortunately the full potential of this quarter mile of track was not realised due to access problems. In 1981 the council revised the use of the Park and terminated the lease.
1980’s – Move to a new site
The search for a new site was set-back by obstacles including mountains of paperwork. After 5 long years the determination of the Chairman ‘Sandy’ Goodwin paid off and a new site was found towards the outskirts of the city. The site was an old council tip that had been used to dump rubble from the bomb damaged city centre following World War Two. Sandy Goodwin organised lorry loads of topsoil and earth moving equipment, totalling over 3,500 tonnes, and over two years achieved the landscaping that would form the groundwork for the woodland that we now have. The “Manpower Services Commission” were an organisation set up in those days to help teach and find employment for the unemployed youth; thankfully they helped with some of the track laying work and lighter landscaping.
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, including bridges, a crossover and a tunnel. 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 mature trees and dense undergrowth that encourages wildlife.
1990 – Official opening of Goodwin Park
The official opening by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, took place in April 1990. By this time a 7¼” narrow gauge 0-4-0 ‘Wren’ called ‘Hernia’ had been acquired to provide the passenger service. The sun was out for the opening day and with a good number of visitors a busy day ensued. A small brick built storeroom provided the required facilities and doubled as a clubhouse. Regular operation for the benefit of the public and members has occurred since then on the first and third Sundays from April until October.
The site, named ‘Goodwin Park’ has now been designated as a Nature Reserve and the trees planted in the early days, are growing well and have been supplemented with additional plantings. We have also adopted the name ‘Bramble Valley Line’ as a result of the prolific crops that can be foraged each Autumn.
After more than 20 years the surroundings have changed beyond all recognition as they have matured. We now have a larger store and clubhouse space and a second Wren steam engine called ‘Fred’ supported by 2 battery electric locomotives for the busier public 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 exclusive 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. 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 are railway enthusiasts, our interests are much wider; Traction Engines, Stationary Engines, Clocks, Bicycles, Internal Combustion Engines, Gardening Equipment and many more!