The Grosvenor Park Miniature Railway, in Chester, was opened in 1996 as part of the Centenary Celebrations for the Eaton Railway on the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate just outside Chester, which closed in 1947.
Situated in the picturesque Grosvenor Park, Robin Butterell and a dedicated group of railway enthusiasts, built the railway during the spring of 1996 with the aim of running it for six months until the end of the summer season. Robin is a resident of Chester and famous throughout miniature railway circles for his books and video’s on the subject.
High set up costs resulted in a loss in the first season so an extension was asked for and granted in early 1997. Unfortunately soon after, Robin had a bad accident, which meant he was unable to continue to run the railway. Financial disaster loomed but luckily three local enthusiasts and businessmen, John Murray, Tim Schofield and Malcolm Carroll stepped in and saved the railway from closure.
John, Tim and Malcolm ran the railway for three seasons until the end of 1999 when business commitments meant that they had to give up. Malcolm who owned the steam engine “Tinker” moved to France and the leased diesel “William Gordon” was returned to its owner.
Again the future of the railway was uncertain, eventually in May 2000 its current owner Stephen Hardin took over.
A second hand diesel locomotive was purchased and the railway reopened in time for the Whitsun Bank holiday at the end of May 2000 initially with a lease for a year from the council.
The railway has since gone from strength to strength. Passenger numbers have steadily increased creating the need for a further diesel, which was purchased in November 2001, an extra carriage and a small steam engine were bought in 2002.
During 2004 a major investment was made and the railway purchased a large GP40 American outline engine and a “Thomas II” steam engine, both loco’s weigh over half a ton each and can handle four fully laden passenger carriages easilly. Unfortunately due to a bad year in 2012 (lots of rain) and an 18 month park refurbishment in 2013/14 the steam engine was sold so that the railway could survive. A new steam engine is planned again for 2016.
At just under a ¼ of a mile long the railway runs through trees around a charming ornamental lake which has recently been refurbished and planted with more natural pond side plants. The railway boasts three level crossings and a magnificent bridge. It has its own station building, which was built in 1937 but as a shelter from the rain not a station and an engine shed built to capture the atmosphere of steam whilst blending in with the character of the park.
Enthusiasts and volunteers still run the railway and turn their hand to being locomotive drivers, guards, ticket clerks, as well as cleaning and maintaining the rolling stock and track. We are always on the lookout for volunteers to help, so if you feel you can help in the running of the railway contact us or call in. We all have a great deal of fun.
Meet the staff on our Staff and Loco’s page.