Still steaming after all these years

Vanguard

Vanguard

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Many of you will fondly remember the Southsea miniature railway that ran along the seafront behind what is now the Blue Reef Aquarium.

I am glad to tell you that the steam locomotives which hauled the trains are still running.

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After the Southsea Railway and the Bognor Regis circuits were dismantled the locomotives – Victory, Vanguard and Valiant – were bought with the intention of rebuilding and using them elsewhere.

This did not happened and the locomotives were dismantled and stored in boxes.

Then came Stuart Ravell, who owns the Kirby Green Light Railway in Lincolnshire.

An engineer, he purchased the locomotives in 1990 and rebuilt them.

He has a 1.5-mile track running around his land which he opens to the public about five times a year for charity.

Mr Ravell does not charge for the rides but encourages people to make a donation to charity.

He told me the railway has raised thousands of pounds for deserving causes.

I visited the railway last week especially to let you know what is happening to the locomotives, met Mr Ravell and toured the site.

Unfortunately no engines were in steam but he gave me a two-hour tour of the shed, signal box and general layout.

I can tell you that the former Southsea locomotives are all in fine fettle and look quite superb.

To see video of the railway in action in 1946 go to portsmouth.co.uk.

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