Celebrity opens Littlehampton Miniature Railway

Arun District Council chairman Stephen Haymes with newsreader Nicholas Owen, right, cutting the ribbon
Arun District Council chairman Stephen Haymes with newsreader Nicholas Owen, right, cutting the ribbon

Newsreader and presenter Nicholas Owen has officially opened the newly-refurbished Littlehampton Miniature Railway.

He joined Arun District Council chairman Stephen Haymes at Mewsbrook Park on Saturday to celebrate the successful return of the popular attraction with visitors, residents, supporters and volunteers.

Libby Pritchard, ten, Fin Cairns, seven, and Joseph Buck, seven

Libby Pritchard, ten, Fin Cairns, seven, and Joseph Buck, seven

The official opening followed a successful few weeks back on the tracks after Littlehampton Heritage Railway took on running the railway, working closely in partnership with the district council.

The management team reports that visitor numbers have been ‘very promising’ and the number of volunteers working with them has surpassed their hopes.

Nicholas, a keen railway enthusiast, delighted the crowds by saying a few words before driving the train off to Norfolk Gardens and back. He also took the opportunity to meet some of the volunteers and visitors.

Mr Haymes said: “It has been an honour to attend today and see the train back in action. It is such a popular attraction for both Arun residents and visitors alike.

Arun District Council chairman Stephen Haymes, left, with Nicholas Owen by the engine

Arun District Council chairman Stephen Haymes, left, with Nicholas Owen by the engine

“As the oldest 12.25in gauge track in Britain, it is so important to encourage people to visit and make the most of this little bit of history.”

The current diesel locomotive, named Gwril, is on loan from the Fairbourne Railway in Barmouth, Wales.

It was built by the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds in 1994 and was used originally on civil engineering projects, including the building of the Jubilee Line extension in London.

The miniature railway was originally opened in 1948. The line is 760m long and carries its passengers between the two stations at Mewsbrook Park and Norfolk Gardens during weekends and school holidays from Easter and early September, plus Santa operations at Christmas and the occasional “specials.

Visit www.littlehamptonminiaturerailway.com for more information.

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