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Visit to the Strawberry Line Miniature Railway, Avon Valley Country Park, Keynsham, Tuesday 7th July 2010

Our Society has always tried to cater for all railway tastes, and to look out for places of railway interest to visit which are just that little bit different or new to us. Hence for our 2010 evening outing, on 6th July, 15 members and friends visited the only commercial 5” gauge railway in the UK, the Strawberry Line Miniature Railway near Keynsham.
Former railwayman Mike Bass started construction of this railway in 1999. The double track 5" Gauge Miniature Railway has over fifteen locomotives, 3/4 mile of track, automatic colour light signalling, a Motive Power Depot, Carriage Sheds, Station Building, and Turntable. Also on site are a model rail layout, and OO Gauge model shop!

A variety of main line loco classes are faithfully captured here in 5” gauge. For any member who had ever wanted to drive a Hymek, double-headed Class 50 featuring full digital sound, Class 40, 33, 45 or DRS 66, then this was their chance- albeit in 5” scale! All our members took to the trains and tried their hands at driving the different locos, after a brief familiarization session. These locos are all powered by two batteries to a diesel outline. Also on site were another Class 40, and examples of Classes 08, 42, DRS 47 and Freightliner 66 plus steam including GW 15XX, Britannia and LNER B1. All the lines freight stock, some 30 wagons, were available for our use in three freight trains

A purpose built signal box has been constructed on site, externally, being largely based on one at Parsons Tunnel, near Dawlish, It houses a 36 lever replica frame, but there the similarity to a conventional signal box ends as it uses three computers rather than traditional rodding. All signals on the railway are automatic colour lights, (and all points trailing rather than facing). Eventually the signal box will control all signals in the station area.

The Station building is based on a former portacabin wages office from Old Oak Common depot, London, to which a pitched roof has been added! A turntable provides access to the locomotive shed, which is named Bath Road depot, whilst the station is named Green Park. Do these names sound familiar?

After having a go at driving different locos, seeing the signal box, learning more about the workings of the locos, there was a chance to see behind the scenes in the Workshops, The freight stock and many of the locos have been built on site.

This was a most enjoyable summers evening, with lovely weather. Our thanks go to Mike, plus Tim, Richard, Simon and other volunteers at the railway for preparing the locos and making this visit possible for us.

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