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Cleethorpes Miniature Railway – The Early Days: 1948 – 1954

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Joined: October 30th, 2007, 10:37 pm

October 31st, 2009, 4:31 pm #1



Cleethorpes Miniature Railway – The Early Days: 1948 – 1954

Peter Scott


Quite often when undertaking miniature railway research, it is necessary to delve into areas outside the main scope of the work. Such a case was Cleethorpes for my research into the railways and locomotives of Ernest Dove. As usual, this entailed gathering more detailed information than I can use in the finished Dove work, so it seemed sensible bring this to a wider audience - hence this Digest Special. These notes should be read in conjunction with Simon Townsend's article in the Heywood Society Journal No.43 (Autumn 1998, page 4) "The Seven Railways of Cleethorpes". They have been compiled from the Minutes of the Pleasure Grounds & Development Committee of Cleethorpes Municipal Borough Council (November 1946 - April 1950 and October 1953 - January 1954) and various editions of the Grimsby Evening Telegraph and the Grimsby News. Refer also to Miniature Railway No.5 (page 12). These notes should not be taken as an exhaustive account of the period - the Council Minutes for May 1950 to September 1953 were not examined, nor was a complete search of the newspapers mentioned undertaken, except around the dates of the main events described. All railways mentioned here were 10¼" gauge. A number of photographs of the period described can be found at: http://www.leytransport.i12.com/mini.htm- however, note that despite being dated 1948, they apparently date from the years 1948-1953. A summary of the locomotives used during this period can be found at the end of the text. As ever my thanks are due to Simon Townsend and Dave Holroyde. Of course, I would be only be too pleased to hear of any comments, corrections, additions etc readers may have!


Further reading, including many photographs - Heywood Journal no. 43 and Miniature Railway no. 5.

Following the Second World War, and as early as the end of 1946, Cleethorpes Council were considering the installation of a miniature railway. The Town Clerk reported in March 1947 he had been in contact with Charles Openshaw Ltd. However, this company had made all their arrangements for the 1947 season and could not assist the Council. No further action was taken until two individuals approached the Council in April 1948, with a view to running a miniature railway in Cleethorpes during the 1948 season. The two gentlemen concerned were Mr Reg Lucas of Mansfield and Mr William Botterill of Peterborough. The Pleasure Grounds & Development Committee of the Council then requested both applicants appear before them at their meeting on 5th May 1948. Luckily, the Minutes provide some detail as to what Messrs Lucas & Botterill were planning. The latter appeared first and explained that "his proposal was to operate a 10¼" gauge railway of such length as the Council might deem desirable, the train consisting of an engine which would be a model of the "Royal Scot" or the "Flying Scotsman" and five coaches, the overall length of which would be 100 feet ". Mr Lucas then came forward with a "similar proposal " for a 7¼" or 9½" gauge railway.

After "careful" consideration the Committee offered Mr W Botterill a three year concession for a site "approximately 300yds long on the embankment at the rear of the Bathing Pool ", while Mr Lucas was offered, what must have been a much poorer site in Sidney Park (an urban park set in the northwest of the Borough, away from the sea front). At their meeting on 2nd June 1948 the Committee heard from the Town Clerk that "Botterill's Miniature Railways Ltd " had accepted terms and the agreement was in the process of being prepared. Interestingly, this is the first mention in the Minutes of Botterill having formed a company for his miniature railway interests. However, Mr Lucas declined the Council's Sidney Park offer, having apparently "made arrangements for his railway to be installed at another resort ".

The Grimsby Evening Telegraph of Friday 16th July 1948 reported the locomotive had arrived the previous day - Thursday 15th July 1948. A picture in the same issue clearly shows this was a LNER style locomotive. The Grimsby News of Friday 16th July 1948 also reported "The engine for the Cleethorpes Miniature Railway arrived from Peterborough on Thursday morning. This six coupled green painted locomotive is owned by Botterill's Miniature Railways Ltd ". It would therefore appear the locomotive Botterill intended to use was his Carland/Eminson built 4-6-2 LNER A3. The new line duly opened on Saturday 17th July 1948, running the 300 yards from behind the Bathing Pool (TA315079) to the northern end of the Boating Lake, near the Paddling Pool (TA316077) and close to the seafront and sand dunes.

The Mayor of Sheffield visited the railway during his official visit to Cleethorpes on Wednesday 11th August 1948. This was reported, with a picture, in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph of Thursday 12th August 1948. By this time the locomotive employed was a GNR 4-4-2. The reason for the change of motive power was revealed in the Minutes of the Committee Meeting of 6th October 1948. By September 1948, Botterill had been asking for a new site on the seaward side of the Boating Lake, and at the October meeting he was asked to come before the Committee for the purpose of "Discussing various matters connected with the operation of the Miniature Railway ". The Committee expressed their "dissatisfaction at the manner in which the railway track and its ancillary features had been constructed and with the shortcomings of the railway generally during the 1948 season ". Strong words indeed! In reply Mr Botterill said these things were a "source of great disappointment to him personally " and went on to explain that "the major cause of the trouble was that the track curves were too sharp to be negotiated by the modern type of locomotive originally intended to be operated [presumably the LNER A3 4-6-2] and that in consequence it had been necessary to operate an older and smaller type of engine which was not sufficiently powerful to meet requirements [one presumes the GNR 4-4-2]. Botterill then went on to formally request a new site on the seaward side of the Boating Lake, on ground forming part of Thrunscoe Recreation Ground.

Initially, the Committee turned down Botterill's idea of a "miniature railway along the seaward side of the Boating Lake from the Children's Paddling Pool to the Pumping Station with provision for two level crossings opposite the Boating Lake bridges and a double platform station in the middle of the length of track". However, the Committee at their meeting on 5th January 1949, relented after the Borough Surveyor had discussed the proposed line over the telephone with one "of the Controlling Directors " of Botterill's Miniature Railways Ltd. At a further meeting on 19th January 1949, the Borough Surveyor and the Chairman of the Committee, interviewed the "four Directors of Botterill's Miniature Railways Ltd " and the details of the proposed railway were set out by the Council. It was to be double track "laid by the Company from the Paddling Pool to the Pumping Station together with a two platformed station at each end " - the work carried by a firm approved by the Council. Two engines were to be provided each with six coaches. The existing engine shed was to remain in its current position and be "Properly painted and extended to accommodate two engines ". This obviously meant the northern end of the new line was to be close or at the same location as the southern end of the 1948 season line. Among the other conditions set out by the Council were: "The engines to be painted Azure blue colour and to be clean and polished at all times " (!), two cashiers were to be appointed with the Council paying half their wages, all staff to be provided with uniforms and operation to commence on Whit Saturday (4th June) 1949.


Vintage photos of the Cleethorpes Miniature Railway in the period studied can be found online at http://www.leytransport.i12.com/mini.htm - Historians beware - there are a couple from the later 1970s railway hiding in there too!

At a meeting on 31st March 1949, a Sub Committee of the Pleasure Grounds & Development Committee, heard that Mr Botterill had requested permission to "erect a marquee on the Boating Lake Area for Easter Week (14th - 19th April, 1949)", to display "the two new engines which have been built for the Cleethorpes Miniature Railway ". Permission was duly granted, but the exhibition was not covered in the local press, so it is not known whether it actually went ahead - probably not as one of the "new locomotives", "The Cleethorpes Flyer" being built by Ernest Dove for Botterill, did not arrive until after the line opened. The other "new" engine was probably the Carland/Eminson LNER 4-6-2, which may explain why it later had a blue livery!

Despite the Borough Surveyor reporting on 6th April 1949 that "Messrs Botterills had made little progress to date ", the new much longer, railway opened on Saturday 28th May 1949, a week before the Whitsun deadline. It ran for some 700 yards in an "end to end" layout on the seaward side of the Boating Lake, close to the sand dunes. The station at the northern end ("Cleethorpes Town") was located close to the Paddling Pool at TA316077, the line then ran south east to its southern station ("Thrunscoe", TA 320073) at the south end of the Boating Lake, near the Pumping Station. The initial service was worked by the LNER 4-6-2 A3 until it was joined by Ernest Dove's new 4-6-2 "The Cleethorpes Flyer" - this also being turned out in a blue livery as determined by the Council. The new railway seems to have proved popular, the Grimsby Evening Telegraph reported that 7,500 passengers rode on it over the weekend of 2nd & 3rd July 1949. The same paper of Tuesday 5th July carried a report on the railway and a picture of "The Cleethorpes Flyer" [the same picture as on page 6 in Simon's article] and commented "Its engines are scale models of famous Pacific flyers of the London-Edinburgh East Coast route ". In the picture, the locomotive has "BR" on the tender side, no doubt denoting Botterills Railways. The railway seems then to have operated successfully each season. At busy times, on Sundays, up to four locomotives were operated - presumably two trains with locomotives being changed at each station. During this time Botterill used a number of different locomotives - see list at end of text.

Botterill's Miniature Railways Ltd agreement for the operation of the railway expired on 31st December 1953 and at their meeting on 7th October 1953, the Committee heard that Botterill's had requested the agreement be extended for one more year. The Committee turned this down and asked the Town Clerk to seek new operators - a Mr H B Barlow had already written to the Council asking if a site was available for a miniature railway. There were three respondents to the Council's request: G & S Light Engineering Co Ltd, Mr P K Barlow and Mr A Clethro from Hull. In January 1954 the Committee heard that G & S Light Engineering Co Ltd (run by Trevor Guest and operators of the Dudley Zoo Railway) were not able to provide a new railway for the 1954 season and that no reply has been received from Mr P K Barlow. The Committee then interviewed Mr A Clethro who "submitted models of the proposed station and locomotives and intimated that he hoped to take over the track &c from Botterill's Miniature Railways Ltd, to modernise the stations and to operate battery electric locomotives ". His offer was accepted and he was given a licence for three years, ending on 31st December 1956.

The railway reopened under its new operator on Good Friday, 16th April 1954. Running started "after lunch" with one of the planned three battery electric locomotives in use, which were described in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph of Monday 19th April 1954 as being "sleek 12ft 6in electric powered units, working on two 30-volt batteries ". And so opened another, steam less, chapter on the Cleethorpes Miniature Railway. The majority of the trackbed of Botterill's 1949 railway now of course sees the regular steam hauled trains of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.


Steam returned to Cleethorpes in the mid-1990s, here ex-Fairborne Railway Katie heads past the site of the Botterrill era Thrunscoe terminus with a mixed rake of open stock (Colin Peake)

Locomotives used during 1948 - 1953 seasons by William Botterill

(Please do not assume this is a wholly accurate or definitive list! Botterill operated a number of, sometimes temporary, railways around the country and no doubt moved his engines around to suit demand)

4-6-2 LNER A3. Carland/Eminson 1948
In use at Cleethorpes: 1948-1950(?). [At Margate Pier by 1951 season].

4-4-2 GNR
Used on 1948 season line only? [Possibly the locomotive used at Paignton Zoo from March - July 1948].

4-6-2 LNER Peppercorn. "The Cleethorpes Flyer". Ernest Dove 1949
In use at Cleethorpes: 1949-1953.

4-6-0 LMS Royal Scot. "Queen of Scots". Ernest Dove 1947
In use at Cleethorpes: 1950(?)(by 1951)-1953. [At Margate Pier 1948-1949, gone by 1951 season].

4-6-0 GWR Saint. No.1944. Guest/Twining 1939
In use at Cleethorpes: 1950-1953. [At Great Yarmouth September 1949].

4-6-0 LMS Royal Scot. Carland
In use at Cleethorpes: ?


Peter Scott
Reading
October 2009


Editors Note: Photographs of the early period of the Cleethorpes Miniature Railway can be found online as linked above and in the magazine articles referenced in Peter's text. If any reader of the Digest has any previously unpublished photographs from this period I would be very interested to hear from them. I trust that readers forgive my presentation of Peter's work in the form above and the deviation from the more usual Digest format. This was an opportunity to present some new research that could not be missed!

Colin Peake


Miniature Railway World Digest
Edited by Colin Peake
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Jordan Leeds
Director
Joined: April 27th, 2007, 5:02 pm

October 31st, 2009, 5:06 pm #2

Peter and Colin, you must be congratulated on such a wonderful article.

Now I pose a question, what has happened to the above locomotives that are listed, where are they now?
JORDAN ASHLEY LEEDS

Trains go into tunnels and come out but locos can go in sheds and never come out
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P Scott
Engineer
P Scott
Engineer
Joined: November 24th, 2006, 2:07 pm

October 31st, 2009, 7:56 pm #3

Thank you.

Of the locomotives:
"The Cleethorpes Flyer" has been much rebuilt and is now 70055 "Rob Roy" at the Eastleigh Lakeside Railway. "Queen of Scots" has been to Canada and the USA, but is now at the Royal Victoria Railway at Netley. The GWR "Saint" No.1944, is now named "Hampton Court" and runs at the Stapleford Miniature Railway. I love to know where that GNR 4-4-2 went! The last time I saw the LNER A3 it was at Lochgilphead.

Peter S.
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daveholroyde
Guard
Joined: August 16th, 2007, 6:37 pm

November 1st, 2009, 12:06 pm #4

Peter, well done. A railway that has needed its history sorting out for some time. Cheers , Dave
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sedwards_458
Ticket Collector
sedwards_458
Ticket Collector
Joined: January 3rd, 2009, 8:32 pm

November 25th, 2009, 1:33 pm #5

Intersetingly, non of these locomotives returned for cleethorpes 60th aniversiary in 2008... shame. It is good to know that two of these locomotives reside so close to each other in southampton. Perhaps a reunion can occur.
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Timbo
Director
Timbo
Director
Joined: October 24th, 2006, 3:54 pm

February 10th, 2015, 7:21 pm #6

A pic of the Wonderland Miniature Railway station under the rollercoaster has turned up on the Grimsby Telegraph site
http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/pictu ... es.html#13
9422340.jpg
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Timbo
Director
Timbo
Director
Joined: October 24th, 2006, 3:54 pm

February 10th, 2015, 7:34 pm #7

9381174.jpg
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peterl
Engineer
peterl
Engineer
Joined: February 14th, 2009, 7:58 pm

March 7th, 2015, 4:51 pm #8

Thanks for posting Tim. I understand that Peter's book on the CCLR should be published soon. Looking forward to that.
Peter
"Consumption is the sole purpose of production"
My Webpage
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John Nicholson
Engineer
Joined: April 30th, 2008, 10:13 pm

August 18th, 2015, 8:17 am #9

Continuing the theme of railways linked with Cleethorpes. Does everyone know that there is a book released on Amazon called the Kenton Miniature railway at price £8.50? Some of the locomotives ran on the Wonderland railway then ended up at the Coniston miniature railway. Having driven 2 of the locomotives at Coniston I found it a fascinating and enjoyable read.
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