Steam trains visit Hastings for Miniature Railway Gala

The annual Gala event at Hastings Miniature Railway went ahead last weekend and saw visiting locomotives operating on the line in Hastings old Town.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 12:58 pm
Gala Day - Empress crossing the Stade SUS-200110-090226001

Visiting trains included the impressive Empress steam locomotive from Eastleigh Lakeside Railway, Black Beauty, from Ferry Meadows Railway and Pilgrim, from Watford Miniature Railway, as well as the railway’s own locos.

Dan Radcliffe and his team have been busy since the railway re-opened in the summer with trains often running well into the evening to satisfy demand for the popular attraction.

Hastings Miniature Railway operates on a ten and a quarter inch gauge, running trains between the Marine Parade boating lake, on the seafront and Rock-a-Nore.

Gala Day - Pilgrim at Rock-a-Nore SUS-200110-090237001

The railway was first opened in 1948 after railway entrepreneur and enthusiast Captain J. E.P Howey, who built and owned the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, set it up in St Leonards.

Local complaints led to the line being re-located to Hastings Old Town, where it was sold to Ian Allen and Jim Hughes.

The 1980’s saw a decline in the railway’s fortunes with sidings at Rock-a-Nore becoming overgrown and a station at East Beach and passing loop being removed. Vast improvements and restoration work was carried out in 2010 with the railway officially re-opening in August of that year.

Two new locomotives were added and construction began on a fourth engine, Swee’Pea, which entered service in 2011.

The railway is now a thriving attraction and is once again offering a two train service.

Pictures by Kevin Boorman.