30 May 2024

All aboard for new mini-railway attraction

by Rebecca Hannant

A mini-railway will depart from Holmpton at an open day in June.

Nicknamed the Great Withernsea Railway (GWR), it is the work of railway enthusiast James Ardin who is employed as a train driver, tamper operator and asset supervisor for VolkerRail. In his spare time James also drives the steam trains for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

The project has been in the works since 2020 and sits in the back garden of his home along Withernsea Road.

James said: “There’s a group of us that have invested time and a lot of effort into the construction of the railway from all round the country – Bishop Auckland, London, Sheffield, Telford, etc.

“Most of us used to travel to a private railway in a village called Comrie in Perthshire, Scotland. Sadly, the owner was at an age where owning, maintaining and running a railway was too much so he had to sell up and move on.

“I purchased my property – formerly Greenacres – and changed the name to Comrie House in May 2020 with my family, and by July 2020 we had started construction on the railway.”

Since obtaining the land James has got to work building track in his back garden which currently spans at a quarter of a mile. However, James has ambitions to extend the whole project to a full mile in the future and continues to work on maintaining his steam trains.

James added: “When it’s new there’s a lot as it needs to be levelled regularly and ballasted every now and then while things settle and subside.

“During the years it will be less maintenance – just more things like greasing joints/ fishplates, sleeper replacement when they get old and rot, and just general routine stuff that gets life expired. Like the real railway, really.”

His ambition has also extended to his son Alexander, who has created his own YouTube channel where he posts videos of the railway inaction.

In a bid to raise money for the Withernsea Coastguard, James will open his railway to the public for the first time in June. As part of the event, James will offer train rides for £2 per person. The ride will include four trips taking the run total to a full mile. Each train will be able to accommodate 15 people at a time. Picnic tables will also be available on site.

James said: “The event we are hoping to be a yearly exercise where we have visiting locomotives and enthusiasts. It would be nice to have people come and enjoy the railway, locomotives and stock while also making a contribution towards a worthy cause.”

Six steam trains are expected to run at the event including trains named Tigger, a Maxitrak Pearl, Ross Thomas 2, The Shay, Florence Phoenix Titan, Captain Hook Improved Tink, Escafeld No1, LNER V3 67465, and a WD Austerity Dame Vera Lynn.

The event will take place at Comrie House, Withernsea Road HU19 2QP, next door to Corrie Pond on Sunday, June 11, between 11am and 3pm. There will be limited parking at Corrie Pond which will be able to accommodate about 20 cars.

To view videos of the railway, visit youtube.com/@alexanderardin4730.