Historic seaside miniature railway exhibition opens in Cleethorpes

“Rails to the Sands” an exhibition of historic seaside miniature railways opened on Saturday 17th July 2010 in the coastal resort of Cleethorpes. Local MP Martin Vickers opened the exhibition, which was attended by more than 40 invited guests including local tourism and culture bosses, national museum consultants and contributors to the project.

Volunteers have brought together many intriguing locos, coaches and holiday-related artefacts from all around Britain’s coast for display in the 1000sq ft gallery space, to become an attraction for families and railway enthusiasts alike.

Two themed galleries depicting the seaside and a ride-on railway station have been constructed to display the collection, plus hundreds of photographs, postcards, posters and ephemera. A film show of rides aboard the railways and hands-on interactive elements complete the display. “Rails to the Sands” will run until December 2011. Entry is free to holders of full-line return tickets of the neighbouring Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, or £2 for adults and £1 for children. The exhibition is open 10am-5pm on running days of the CCLR, which is every weekend of the year and weekdays during school h

The exhibition’s backdrop is a history of British seaside holidays, through the 20th Century from early resorts to Butlins and beyond. There have been over 200 seaside miniature railways around the British coast “almost every resort has had one” and this is the first time an exhibition of these fun amusements has ever been staged.

Visitors are encouraged to send in their own holiday photos, which are displayed on the attraction’s website www.seasiderailways.co.uk and streamed into the exhibition itself.

The exhibition has been staged by the Miniature Railway Museum Trust (MRMT) assisted by North East Lincs Council and supported by the adjoining Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, itself a historic seaside miniature railway.

Exhibits include:

  • Hundreds of postcards, posters, photographs and publicity materials
  • ‘Blacovesley’  15 inch gauge loco of 1909, the oldest surviving internal combustion railway loco in the world and rarely seen in public.
  • ‘Lorna Doone’ 7.25 inch gauge loco, ex-Mablethorpe Miniature Railway
  • ‘Edmund Hannay’ 10.25 inch gauge loco, ex Wells Harbour Railway, not seen in public for many years.
  • ‘Sandham Castle’10.25 inch gauge diesel loco, ex Isle of Wight.
  • Plus a Tri-ang Minic 10.25 inch gauge electric loco similar to those used at
    Butlins and a Cromar-White 4w electric loco, sister of that at the
    Kingsbridge Miniature Railway.
  • Three coaches, including an ex Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch 4 wheeler, Kerrs Miniature Railway brakevan and a Bassett-Lowke 4 wheeler from the 1930s.

David Humphreys, chairman of the MRMT commented: “We are delighted to open this exhibition. It’s not just another railway museum, seaside miniature railways were built for fun and our exhibition is too! We expect this to bring more visitors to the area, and give yet another reason to visit or stay in Cleethorpes. It’s vital for the regeneration of wonderful seaside towns to innovate and create new attractions. The support from local people has been fantastic: if this is a success then we hope to grow even more.”

For more details of the exhibition, please visit the Rails to the Sands website.


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