The history of the B&DMES Garden Railway goes back to the summer of 2006 when a small band of members constructed an elevated base using plywood sheets covered with roofing felt, mounted on old track supports from a long dismantled ride-on railway. This operated very successfully and proved a great attraction to visitors.
Unfortunately, during the summer of 2007, frequent acts of vandalism at the Viables site, particularly to the Society's property, led to the decision to close the Garden Railway and lift the track before any more damage could be done. It was recognised that a much more robust form of construction was required if we were to avoid an unsustainable level of costs for repairing and replacing track.
A fairly lengthy period of research and planning followed, at the end of which an order was placed with a local building company for the construction of a raised trackbed in the form of the blockwork wall you see today. This was financed largely by a grant from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Fund, to whom we are very grateful. The new design allows us to protect the track at the end of each running session with covers which are securely fixed in place with steel straps. We were able to utilise some of the plywood salvaged from the original trackbed.
The layout takes the form of a letter “d”. Two circuits of track, one 32mm or O Gauge, and the other 45mm or Gauge 1, have been installed. Following a long wait for a specially fabricated piece of track which allows trains on the inner circuit to cross the outer one, we will be installing sidings or steam-up bays on the straight leg of the “d”. This, together with the additional protective covers, is expected to be ready for our 2012 Miniature Steam Rally.
The track gauges have been chosen as being the most popular gauges for garden railways in this country, since they allow the running of a variety of different scales for both standard and narrow gauge outline trains.
We hope to be able to run the Garden Railway on all of the passenger carrying Public Running days and we look forward to giving you all something else to watch if you have to wait for your ride.