It was around Christmas 2011 a small group of people from the Nene Valley Railway had the idea of trying to set up a garden railway so that visitors could enjoy the attraction and maybe allow our younger visitors to ‘drive’ the trains. One of the group had seen a layout at the Great Central Railway and felt that the Nene Valley could have a layout as well. With all the group having decided this was a viable idea, how do we get started? Where do we get the track and rolling stock from? (as there weren’t any funds available from NVR).
As all of us already had G gauge layouts of our own, it was decided to pool our ‘spare’ bits and loan rolling stock/locos to start the project. A couple of the group got down to planning what type of layout we were going to have and where it was going to be put. It was discovered that there was a spare concrete base at the back of the loco yard by the stabling siding that we could put some track on. So for the 1st year, members of the group would take some of their own track, locos & rolling stock, put down a different layout each time and let the children have fun driving the trains, inviting donations so that we could start to build a permanent layout. This proved a very popular attraction whenever it was run and some funds were raised to start to purchase the track required.
While this was happening, some members of the group started working out where a permanent layout could be built. Eventually a location was found and agreed could be used, just by the turntable. So work started with earth being moved in, a retaining brick wall being built and a concrete base for the two main loops laid. A pond was also created with a small waterfall and fountain. We also laid a branch line around 2 sides of the area to go up to the rockery area.
Over the four years the layout has been in operation a core group of members have run the layout, which comprises of two separate main loops each with a passing loop in the station area and a separate branch line. The layout is analogue and the rolling stock is mainly Thomas and his friends as this provides great entertainment for the visitors (young and old). From time to time ‘visiting’ rolling stock makes an appearance (from a member’s collection).
The group try and run the layout as often as possible and if there is a special themed weekend at Nene Valley Railway they will try and have appropriate rolling stock running.
Also around the layout many different characters from TV and film productions make an appearance to provide further things for the visitors to spot.
We are trying to improve the layout as often as possible, this year for example has seen the introduction of electric point motors, to save a lot of walking across the layout by the operators.
If you are visiting Wansford and the Nene Valley Railway, please come round by the turntable and say hello, we will be pleased to see you.
The Wansford Garden Railway Group
Wansford, Peterborough PE8, UK