Downs Light Railway

Downs Light Railway
Downs Light Railway
Location Colwall, Worcestershire
Type Private
Gauge 9½ inches
Built by Geoffrey Hoyland
Owned by Downs Light Railway Trust
Coordinates 52°05′14″N 2°21′10″W / 52.087310°N 2.352882°W / 52.087310; -2.352882Coordinates: 52°05′14″N 2°21′10″W / 52.087310°N 2.352882°W / 52.087310; -2.352882
Length 0.75 miles (1.21 km)
Stations 1
Preservation Information
Original Gauge 7¼ inches
Preserved 1983–Present
Chairty No. 513882
Website DLR Trust
1924 Locomotive "Stantor" (renamed "Tubby") bought by the Downs School
1929 Locomotive "Maud" bought by the Downs School
1937 Locomotive "Ranmore" bought by the Downs School, railway is re-gauged, "Maud" sold
1938 Locomotive "Ranmore" sold
1941 Locomotive "George" bought by the Downs School
1970 Restoration commences by James Boyd
1983 The Downs Light Railway Trust is formed, ownership of the railway transferred to Trust from the Downs School
1984 Locomotive "Tim" built by the Trust
1989 Locomotive "George" sold, and proceeds fund the rebuilding of "Tubby"
1992 Locomotive "Tubby" returns, renamed "James Boyd"

The Downs Light Railway is the world's oldest private miniature railway, with a track gauge of 9½ inches. The Railway is located within the private grounds of the The Downs School (Colwall, Malvern, Worcestershire). The railway was built and opened in 1925 by Geoffrey Hoyland (Headmaster) as a 7¼ inch gauge railway, for the principal purpose of education. The railway was regauged during the 1930s to the larger gauge of 9½ inches, to allow for new locos to be used on the line. After Geoffrey Hoyland left the school, the railway was allowed to deteriorate until it became unsafe to use by the late 1960s.

During the 1970s, restoration work began by former pupils of the school, most notably James Boyd. In 1983, the railway was handed over to the Downs Light Railway Trust, who became responsible for its ownership, preservation and operation.

The Downs Light Railway stands to be the only railway to be operated by Children aged between 7 and 13 years, as an educational extra-curricular activity.


  • TUBBY 2-6-2 Tender (Steam): Arrived in 1924. One of the first 7¼ inch gauge locomotives to utilise a narrow gauge outline. Design was by Henry Greenly using Parver / Bassett Lowke parts. The locomotive underwent two modifications; the first during the early 1930s, and the second in 1937 where it was re-gauged to 9½ inches. The locomotive remained in service up to the 1980s, where it retired, and was dismantled.
  • MAUD 2-6-0 Tender (Steam): Arrived in 1929. The locomotive was a scaled model to Great Western Railway outline. Maud never wore its own nameplates; however, other than information retained by the School, its name is referred to in an edition of the Model Engineer. Locomotive sold during the late 1930s. Its present existence is not known, nor details of is subsequent ownership(s).
  • RANMORE 0-4-2 Tank (Steam): Arrived in 1937 to 9½ inches. Sold in 1942.
  • GEORGE 4-4-2 Tender (Steam): Built in 1939, it was bought in 1941 and remained in service up to 1986. The locomotive was sold in 1989 to the Cadbury family. The locomotive remained as a static display in the Downs School, until 2003 following a change of ownership. The locomotive underwent a complete rebuild and returned to the railway in 2006.
  • BROCK 0-4-0 Tank/Tender (Steam): Built by David Curwen in 1973 for James Boyd. The locomotive was bequeathed to the Downs Light Railway Trust in 1995.
  • TIM 0-6-0 (Petrol-Hydraulic): Built by the Downs Light Railway Trust in 1984.
  • James Boyd 2-6-2 Tender (Steam): Built by John Milner in 1991 for the Downs Light Railway Trust. The locomotive was built with various parts of TUBBY, and arrived as TUBBY II. The locomotive was officially named JAMES BOYD in 1992.

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