The Havering Miniature Railway Club ran an demonstration event over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. They laid out some temporary track in a similar layout to there future Lodge Farm Park Project:
We spoke to Bill Dadswell (chairman of the HMRC) about how they prepared for the event and future plans:
In order to run the trains in Lodge Farm Park work started in putting down a fairly level track bed several Sundays beforehand as parkland is very undulating unless you are lucky enough to find a fairly smooth run. We were not so lucky so had to take a large amount of soil to even the ground out.
What was good is that the track laid on the grass is where the permanent track will be in the not too distant future when the digging out of the proper track bed begins.
Sunday 1st May was used principally to check out the steam engines which were fine. We were able to offer rides to over two hundred people without any problems on what turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon.
Our main day was on Monday May 2nd Bank Holiday which was expected to be poor in respect of the weather. However, again we were blessed with a fine dry day with the rain not coming until after we had packed everything away.
We started running trains about 11 am until 4.40 pm with most of the trains being full. With all four coaches in use most of the time and a steam engine at each end, this meant about 22 people on each train. By the time the last train ran, over 700 people travelled on our small line of about 100 metres in length. One young girl went on six separate rides as she enjoyed it so much. We were pleased to give several of the ‘Friends of Raphael and Lodge Farm Park’, including their Chair, Julia Herold a trip over the line as they have really supported our aims from the outset. I have never seen so many people in the park.
The day went very smoothly and no one had to wait very long before they had a ride. It certainly brought home to those of us in the Havering Miniature Railway Club that this new attraction in the park, which is not a commercial undertaking but a Community project, would be well used and enjoyed by people of all ages over the coming years.
Much interest was shown in the railway with lots of enquiries about when the railway would be fully open over its whole length. We await a decision from Veolia North Thames Trust in respect of a grant application we have submitted which, if successful, would result in the railway being built in a much shorter time. As a result of this latest running, several people came forward to offer assistance with the building and track laying in the months ahead.
Putting the railway down to run over the two days was very labour intensive and tiring as the locomotives and coaches had to be brought to the park and taken home afterwards. Most of us slept very well over those two nights!
The group intends to run another event again just one more day in May on the Spring Bank Holiday on Monday 30th again from about 11 am to 5 pm. Do come along and see what they are doing in the park for the benefit of the Community.