The Branch Line Society


Great Bush Railway,
Saturday 9th June 2018

Report by Geoff Noakes

21 members duly gathered in the Top Field adjacent to the short 7¼" gauge rarely used miniature railway for 10.30. After marking the attendance register and issuing souvenir tickets our organiser, Simon Mortimer, agreed a plan of action with Rich Fellowes from the railway to cover all available tracks at this 2' 0" gauge 550yd long railway.


Great Bush Railway, Hadlow Down station run round loop looking at the buffer stops. The wagon on the right was shunted out of the headshunt to achieve the end of line.
[© Simon Mortimer 2018]

The single coach was stabled at Hadlow Down station. Loco No14 'Albany' soon arrived and formed the main motive power. It is named after the former Albany Steam Museum at the Forest Road Light Railway, where there used to be an agricultural equipment museum in Forest Road, Newport on the IOW. The premises are now occupied by Albany Farm & Garden Machinery.

Back at Tinkers Park, initially the station area, line and loop were covered with various shunt moves, including a wagon used as a buffer stop being attached and detached as required for movement to enable coverage of the station area to the end of line beyond. A full length run of the line was made using the main line passing the shed area and noting the very recent loop extension works at Organ Halt. At the other end of the line Tinkers Lane station (under construction) was reached and was sufficiently completed, earlier that morning (!), to allow safe alighting and a brief photographic stop.

This final section is not used during the annual Gala as the field access level crossing there is too busy with traffic. There is a single platform road (but no run round facility) and an adjacent siding, now extended to the same length, which were both fully covered to the buffer stops before returning to the points to the lower shed nearer the bottom field. A quick shunt here covered the connection to this shed headshunt before the train climbed back up the bank to the site of the former Organ Halt.

The loop here has been extended westwards with the connecting crossover moved to just east of the level crossing by the Organ Museum. Our tour took the new loop slowly and cautiously (as it was very new track and yet to be ballasted) passing the proposed site of the new Organ Halt, replacing the original one removed as the loop now passes over the former platform, before rejoining the main line.

The line describes a letter 'U' on its side; 550yd later, having gone round the 'U' bend, the tour enters the bottom Tinkers Lane station, the other end of line. The platform is still under construction.
[© Simon Mortimer 2018]

With the main running lines sorted, attention turned to covering the various sidings. The first were the lower shed sidings and headshunt partially covered during the main run. These were 'DIY' with yellow battery electric loco 'Titch' on a drive yourself basis. During these manoeuvres the effect of even a small amount of vegetation on the railhead was evident but BLS members generally make good engine drivers and the lines were completed fully, safely and efficiently under close supervision.

After this, clearance of the main sidings by the loop and the three higher level sheds took some time but allowed participants to travel on, and if desired drive, several locos (No5, No24 'RJ Brown', No25 'Wolf' and No4 'Mild') along with wagons. Eventually two flat wagons were left and these were used to convey half the party at a time via various shunt moves over almost the full extent of every siding on the north side of the line (including one not on the diagram) and the scissors crossover!

The south side siding and shed were covered in the coach with steam loco No3 'Sao Domingos'. After taking participants into the sidings and shed, where it was noted the upper cab fitted grooves in the rafters perfectly (no coincidence), on the south side of the main line it was back down the gradient to return with great gusto, the crew really hammering out a barking beat on the stiff return gradient.

A final steam main line run was made before departure and the road trip to the Bentley Miniature Railway. Rich Fellowes was thanked for his arrangements both before and on the day; a most successful visit. Various routes were then taken by the sat-navs and map readers for this short journey; one car followed another but ended up at 'Waitrose' - an intentional diversion by the first to 'cop' it!

What a Great Bush (and a rather loud shirt)! The end of line at Tinkers Lane station.
[© Simon Mortimer 2018]

The battery electric loco in the lower shed sidings; the mainline connection is straight ahead.
[© Simon Mortimer 2018]

BLS members are at the cutting edge of gricing, covered the scissors crossover variations.
[© Simon Mortimer 2018]

A railway volunteer 'Tinkers' with a rarely used point prior to our trip to test it (successfully). The steam loco simmers in the background on the main line awaiting its turn on the railtour.
[© Simon Mortimer 2018]

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