Hastings Miniature Railway celebrated its 70th anniversary over the weekend of June 2 and 3 welcoming visiting locomotives.
Brilliant sunshine and a music festival on the Stade ensured it was a busy weekend for the attraction with hundreds of people taking a ride along the fishing beach from the seafront to Rock-a-Nore.
Visiting locomotives included ‘Firefly’, a live steam loco which used to work on the 10¼” gauge line, in the 1960s and 1970s, and ‘Royal Scot’. An intensive service ran over the weekend, with many diesel trains double-headed. The restored, and much loved, Hastings trolleybus Happy Harold also put in an appearance over the weekend.
Hastings Miniature Railway started operating on the seafront on 5th June 1948 having previously operated 2.5 miles away at Grosvenor Gardens in St Leonards on Sea in 1947.
The original line was approximately 280 yards long and ran between the Coach Park and Rock-a-Nore Car Park. There was one station called Conquers Bay and trains operated on a push-pull system.
In 1950 the line was extended a further 50 yards west and a new station was built called East Beach Street. Rock-a-Nore station was also built and run around loops installed at both ends allowing the trains to be pulled in both directions.
In 1959 the railway was granted permission to extend a further 270 yards to Marine Parade where it still runs to today.
The railway was originally operated by three steam locomotives, Firefly, Royal Scot and Hampton Court. In 1968 a Diesel locomotive was built for quiet running days and poor weather. The railway then started to see more diesels operating on the line and the steam locomotives being sold until only diesels remained.
The railway is operated by Dan Radcliffe and his team, Dan also re-established the miniature railway at Alexandra Park, which has proved a great success.
Hastings Miniature Railway will be hosting a steam gala over the weekend of June 30 and July 1.
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