About Miniature Railway Workshop
It all started with a discussion down at the local Model Engineering Club in 2018.
We were comparing the challenges found with existing portable tracks and how these could be solved with an updated design. Soon the idea grew to a full range of straights, points, buffers, ramps and everything needed to build a portable miniature railway.
Not only did we want the track to be unbelievably easy and hassle free to lay, the club members also wanted a rail that would be stable under the load of large locos such as Tinkerbells or Large-Staffords. It was also recognised that they should be easily handled by one person who could ideally carry two sections of track at a time.
As well as building a great product, we wanted to prove that it is possible to have British made products at a reasonable price, ethically source raw materials and employ people right here in the UK who are fairly compensated for the hard work they put in. From those principles Miniature Railway Workshop (MRW) was born and today three years later we are proud to tell you more about our journey.
Some of the very first panels made by MRW.
We know the hobby inside out.
Dan Mason (MRW’s MD) drew upon his years of experience with railways ranging from N gauge to standard gauge and nearly every scale in between. With his experience of both permanent and portable railways, we were able to follow a design process to innovate and develop an end product that achieved everything we wanted it to. Through the design process we were able to refine the manufacturing to give a track panel that connects simply and can be laid in seconds.
Utilising laser cut components and computer aided design (CAD), we could standardise the components giving better reliability and interchangeability. MRW are the first manufacturers to use recycled plastic wood sleepers as standard for our portable track. A portable railway traditionally used wood or plywood sleepers but generally over time the sleepers failed while the track was being moved around. However, the plastic wood we use is very resilient to impact and thus far we have never had reason to replace a sleeper on any of the track panels we have produced.
At the time of writing we have manufactured over 700 track panels which is over 1000m of track. Every single one has been made by us and with an average count of 20 welds per panel that's 14000 welds!
An S shape track built from curved ( I ) Radius portable track 9.4M [30.9ft] radius curve.
We started going straight then it all took a turn.
Our straight panels are carefully designed so they're easy to lift and handle but also not too small. We have worked to create an entire track system that will allow customers to build complex layouts with just standard components of straights, curves and points.
All our track components are interchangeable. This allows an almost infinite variation when designing your railway.
Through our range of products we have kept the panel length under 1.5m and a comfortable 1 person lift. This size also allows us to post track panels cheaply and our (5’ 4” tall) MD can comfortably carry two panels at once, one in each hand.
Curves are one of our proudest achievements as a company. We make a range of curves comprising of:
(A Radius) 15.2M [50ft] radius curve
(I Radius) 9.4M [30.9ft] radius curve
As well as these two standard radius curves, we are also now making custom curves to meet the exacting requirements of our customers.
Our portable points were launched in August 2020 and match our (A Radius) curves to allow you to build passing loops and sidings. The points split into two halves for easy transportation, with the parts weighing 15kg and 17kg respectively. The points conform to the 7 ¼” gauge society standards for narrow gauge and standard gauge wheelsets. The points are welded steel construction and designed to be very reliable and resistant to warping which might cause derailments. The key components of the points such as the nose of the diamond and the point blades can be replaced easily if they were to be damaged meaning the working life of these points can be many years.
Everything is made in Britain and built to last.
Where possible we source our materials, such as steel for rails and plastic wood for sleepers, from the UK and all of our manufacturing is solely based in Nottingham. Furthermore, we aim to make as much as possible in-house with the cutting, finishing, welding, assembly, quality check and dispatch all undertaken by ourselves at the workshop.
Dual gauge track with 5” and 7 ¼” rails.
Can a coal fired loco really be an environmentally aware activity?
As the world turns away from fossil fuels and towards a greener society, we know that our use of burning coal within the hobby will come under fire. To this end we have looked to make our track a long lasting product which uses a significant amount of recycled materials. In addition, it is fully recyclable at the end of its working life. We look to minimise our carbon footprint wherever possible and feel that this helps counterbalance the use of coal in the steam locos that run over the track.
In light of the global challenges surrounding climate change and a lack of manufacturing jobs in the UK, we strongly believe that sourcing and manufacturing in the UK is not only good for the climate but also good for the people that live here.
Thomas Blaseby (Craftsman)
Daniel Mason (Managing Director)
We often dispatch track standing up like this as it takes up less space on the lorry thereby reducing our carbon footprint.
We know it inside out
Because we make the portable track ourselves, we know every inch of it and can ensure quality through every stage of manufacture. We control our manufacturing process closely throughout, test fitting and quality checking every panel before it is dispatched.
Elly Skelton (Designer-Maker)
Elly welding a track panel. Elly joined the company in 2021 and is an experienced designer who is relishing the chance to get hands on with designing and building MRW products.
MRW Supports TFLR
Our first customer was Top Field Light Railway (TFLR), a VERY new club with limited resources. TFLR were looking to raise their profile locally and generate much needed funds to develop their main site. They purchased our very first track sections and used these at events around Norfolk with support from MRW.
Our guarantee to you.
All of our products have been tested and perfected by us and we are constantly innovating and developing new products to meet the needs of our customers. We hold a selection of standard products but also build “one offs” and custom designs. We endeavour to give accurate lead times but as we pride ourselves on quality and good design, new products can be a long time in production. We have a strong relationship with our customers, checking in with our regular clients to see if their panels are performing as they should.
In our three years of trading we have only received positive feedback and have never had a return for any reason. All of our track products come with a 1 year guarantee to give our customers peace of mind. All they have to do is return the product and we’ll arrange for the item to be repaired or replaced. Obviously the guarantee doesn’t include damage that may have been caused by misuse like a roller accidentally running over the track at a steam rally. Nevertheless, we will always try to help with any issues, whether it's been a year or longer since purchase.
What our customers say about us.
When our customers leave us feedback we listen closely to help us improve our existing range and this leads to the design of new products. We regularly make bespoke orders to exactly fit your needs. Below is one such review:
5 star review from another satisfied customer Matthew Southall
"Superb Service. Very happy with everything, the track is super easy to put together and packs away nice and neatly without taking up too much room! More than likely be putting another order in, in the near future to extend the run even more! "
More than just track.
We have partnered with Abbots Model Engineering (AME) to supply a complete railway package including everything you need to start out in this hobby. Abbots have been making electric locos to a high standard since 2003. We have had personal experience with Abbots and knew their locos would be the perfect accompaniment to our track. We now can provide a loco, rolling stock and track all through one point of communication. We hope to guide new hobbyists as to the best products to suit their individual needs. We can also reduce postage costs for our customers. For example a recent order of a complete railway was dispatched to Scotland on one pallet saving the buyer considerable expense.
Picture of our first pallet to Scotland and the first order of our complete railway package!
- Electric Loco (kit form Neptune 3 from Abbots)
- Riding Truck (ready to run carriage from Abbots)
- Straight Jubilee Track Panels (MRW)
- Buffer Stops (MRW)
- Coupling Bars and Coupling Pins (MRW)
We are still in the process of updating the website to include more of Abbots Model Engineering products but we are excited to say we are effectively able to offer the complete Abbots range.
Hurricane Steam Raising Blower.
One of our latest products is the steam raising blower. We all know the issue of getting locos up to steam. Many home brew devices work ok but often don't produce enough draw to bring a fire round properly. Going from a larger loco to a smaller loco can be difficult to control as the amount of draw can’t be changed. Through more than a year's worth of design development and refinement, we have produced a very reputable steam raising blower that meets the needs of the 7 ¼ gauge market and will be a valuable asset to any locomotive operator. These are now available to pre-order through our website.
First production steam raising blower. These are now available for pre-order on our website.
In 2021 we plan to hold some open days here in the Nottingham workshop. Come and see the track in action for yourself! Get hands on, have a go at laying our track panels and taking a ride on our Trains. The MRW range of products is constantly expanding and developing. The best way to keep up to date is to subscribe to our mailing list on the MRW website or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.
CAD render of what we have planned with Portable left hand points used to make a passing loop and head shunt.