In 2023 we've been involved with 20 events in just 10 months! Over half of these events have been on portable track, either with Top Field Light Railway (TFLR) or the Portable Railway Club (PRC). The MRW team are passionate about miniature railways and have always been heavily involved within the hobby.
As one of the coldest months in England not many miniature railways run during January but we still had work from December to finish off.
Pack down form Powderham
We finished the pack down from the Powderham Castle event we did in collaboration with GoLocoMiniatureRailway and Exmore Miniature Railway. This was a huge railway all running on MRW portable track with over 150 track panels in use to build a complex balloon loop railway complete with; bridge, tunnel, run-round loop, ticket office and covered station!
Driving at Pugneys
Some enjoyable days spent driving locos at Pugneys Light Railway, it is still hard to believe that a 7 ¼ gauge loco can be as large as Sapphire!
Harrogate Model Engineering Exhibition 2023
Getting ready for Harrogate meant building a number of new parts for the exhibition stand including some 15” gauge track panels. Here they are laid out on the workshop floor!
Our stand included a large array of brand new products including our portable turntable prototype, workshop trolley and a collection of Colin Edmondson products shown for the first time in public.
The Portable Railway Club, supported by MRW, had a complete miniature railway on display right opposite the MRW stand complete with an extensive set of sidings, a loop of Click & Play portable track and a long out and back railway, all of which could be ridden for free!
The club's railway was one of the very few interactive exhibits at the show and proved extremely popular, with people having rides up and down the line all day.
As an event the Harrogate show was brilliant. It was extremely well attended by both enthusiasts and the general public, with plenty for the whole family to enjoy alongside the specialist exhibits and traders. This is the kind of exhibition the hobby desperately needs to bring new people into the fold. The Portable Railway Club was indebted to the many volunteers that came and helped over the course of the event especially when so many of them then came and joined us at the later event held at Telford! The assistance was greatly appreciated and it was excellent to see so many people come together to enjoy the hobby!
The end of March saw Dan traveling over to Thompson Park in Burnley to visit the AGM of the Great Little Railways team, who publish a list of miniature railways of the UK every year in a handy leaflet. They have done an excellent job of promoting miniature railways for several years now.
It was great to see some of the club locos out running and also a new improved design Excalibur II which had been freshly delivered by Peter from Abbots. This featured a completely new drive system which had been in development for some time following our testing during Powderham in December.
Top Field Light Railway
April saw the Class 20 venture out into the cold for its first public running of the year with the Top Field Light Railway. Chairman Robert Ewles seen below at the controls thoroughly enjoyed the day as usual!
PRC at Siemens Goole
Later in April the Portable Railway Club had been booked to do a very special event for Siemens at their Goole facility. This building is where all of the new Piccadilly line tube trains will be assembled, and we were asked to provide a miniature railway for a large group of primary school children as part of a scheme to encourage young people into engineering fields.
This was a sizable railway measuring around 150m complete with balloon loop, sidings and turntable. We ran both the club's DB Neptune 4 and also the Class 20 and both performed excellently.
There's a brilliant video of the event here:
Soon after the Goole event the trailer was re-packed with track and sent off to Norfolk with John to be used to support TFLR in yet another event this time in the grounds of the North Walsham parish church.
The Portable Railway Club were asked to cover an event for the Woolsey's Miniature Railway over the coronation weekend. It proved to be a very damp day but great fun was had by all watching the King and Queen on the big screen whilst riding a miniature railway in the rain. A rather surreal experience!
Returning the Class 47 back to Pugneys the following day gave a brilliant excuse to have another drive of Sapphire but this time in some welcome, greatly improved weather!
Late May is one of the busiest times of the year for MRW. With the Strumpshaw Steam Rally and a lot of customers wishing to have their railways ready for summer we are normally working flat out. This year was no exception!
Strumpshaw was the key reason why MRW was formed as a business, to supply a high quality portable railway track to our local embryonic model engineering society (TFLR). Now, 4 years later, the full ambition has been realised! With a whopping 3 steam locos in operation and 2 more petrol/electric locos in reserve we had a proper railway, giving joy and fun to passengers and volunteers alike. It was a bumper year for passenger numbers and TFLR really benefited from the additional income that this event gave. We are really proud to be supporting the club with this kind of event and it goes a long way to showing the value of this kind of community project, with so many hard working volunteers pulling together to make these special events happen.
We got opportunity to use on of our very popular heavy duty drop-on Scamp turntables
Thanks to David Clews for the use of his loco Erin.
Real world testing is invaluable regardless of the product. We had recently come into possession of a Holmside locomotive and a brand new Neptune 4, which were taken to Pugneys for a weekend of testing on passenger haulage.
Braintree with the PRC
Later in June and another Portable Railway Club event this time down south for a whopping 3 days just using the Clubs Neptune 4!
After this, it was quickly back up the M1 for our event at DB cargo running the Holmside and Neptune for their annual family fun day at Toton.
Miniature Mayhem Gala
The month started with the annual Miniature Mayhem Gala with TFLR. This year due to engineering works at one end of the line, a huge amount of portable track was used. Utilising both the club's resources and also some of MRW and the Portable Railway Club's track, this event was made possible without disruption.
Portable Railway Steam and Diesel Gala
A celebration of portable miniature railways with rides on 5 inch and 7 1/4 gauge trains with onsite refreshments available, plus tours of the AME workshops. The Portable Railway Club ran trains at Abbots Model Engineering over two days with various locos running including; Steam, Electric and Petrol Power!
It was a massive success with a complete loop of track with two passing loops and signals. We had excellent support from volunteers, organisations associated with the hobby, and a great time was had by all!
At any moment we could run 4 separate trains with many more stored in the sidings waiting their turn. We are looking for a new venue to hold this event in 2024, so if you would like to play host for the PRC please do get in touch!
July also saw us visit two private railways but as they are private, we can't share any pictures. Hopefully this shot of the MRW showroom will suffice!
Woolseys Miniature Railway at the Vegan Camp Out
Just at the close of July we went to help the Woolsey's Miniature Railway at the Vegan Camp out event. Both Dan and James the company's directors are both vegan so this was a really unusual but enjoyable crossover of interests!
A running day for the Portable Railway Club hosted at Teversal Visitors Centre and Cafe. This was the first time Bridget has run publicly for many years. Following months of rebuilding and repair. The loco required some more "finishing" before it was ready to haul passengers but it managed 6 hours in steam with good success.
The rather impressive Romulus was provided by new Portable Railway Club member Darren Morton. The loco ran perfectly and did a sterling job hauling passengers all day. Happy passengers certainly make happy drivers! Thanks to everyone who helped on the day, especially Matt who was invaluable.
All aboard the wedding train!
The Bridget made a valiant effort carrying passengers at the Flair Light Railway for a very special do. Driven here by the groom with a whopping 5 passengers; the most it has ever hauled for us!
Kirklees Light Railway Gala
We had a great time driving Jane at Kirklees Light Railway Gala followed by some brilliant evening rides on the 15" gauge track.
Thanks again to the lovely hosts who made us feel most welcome. Jane was on loan from Pugneys Light Railway and we helped move the loco back to Pugneys the following weekend utilising our portable track.
The 7¼ Gauge Society AGM and gathering is a real highlight of the year and it was a pleasure to return this year to the Bedford MEC club track called Summerfields. It's an extensive railway ideally suited to prove the capability of smaller 7¼ Gauge locomotives, with a challenging climb followed by an extensive and complex set of loops. Once again the welcome could not have been better and the event was great fun for all involved.
We took our own commercial coaches to show off complete with a trade show stand on Saturday. Then the rest of the time was spent driving the TFLR club loco Tihany, whilst catching up with good friends. Next year's event should be at Rugby MEC so if you wish to be there, simply become a member of the 7¼” Gauge Society. It's well worth the membership price!
It was great to see so many MRW Hurricane blowers in use in the steaming bay with lots of positive comments from loco owners! These are available to buy through our webshop, so be sure to check them out if you need a good sized blower for 7 ¼ gauge or similar scale.
Pugneys Diesel Gala
By this stage of the year the Class 66’s rebuild is nearing completion. It has had a complete rewire after a battery explosion wrote off the batteries and most of the wiring and chassis paintwork. Following weeks of work to rebuild the loco it was taken for test at the Pugneys gala and performed brilliantly alongside the array of other locomotives on show!
The Class 66 at the time of writing in October is currently with the powder coaters having the chassis shot blast and repainted. This has really proved to be a very extensive rebuild but as the loco is touching 30 years old as far as we can tell, it's well deserving of the time dedicated to it!
One of our final big events of the year was with the Midlands Model Engineering Show, again in close collaboration with our good friends at Abbots Model Engineering. We exhibited for 4 days at Warwick complete with a wide range of new products the most notable being our Miniature Midland Headlamp and fully working Commercial failsafe air-braked bogies.
With such a busy year in 2023 and many projects to keep us busy through the winter including yet another huge portable railway adventure, we are looking to grow the MRW team yet again. We have positions available as described on our website, but are interested in hearing from anyone local to Kirkby-in-Ashfield whatever their skillset, as we have a wide range of tasks and work coming into the workshop.