The Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway, a delightful 2 foot gauge line tucked away in the heart of the Kent countryside, England, near the village of Bredgar in a richly wooded area of the North Kent Downs.
So Why Did They Use Narrow Gauge Track?
The gauge of the BWLR is 2 foot (60cm). This has been generally considered as the smallest gauge suitable for regular passenger service or the transport of goods over long distances. Narrow Gauge railways could be built in less space, with sharper curves and were much cheaper to build and operate than larger gauges, but speeds were slower. However, compared with the alternatives available at the turn of the 19th century in places like Africa, Australia and even parts of the UK they were a leap forward in transport technology.
In the UK Welsh slate quarries were major users of narrow gauge systems; the light weight track was easy to lay and re-lay as quarry work progressed. In other parts of the country mixed passenger and agricultural lines and large industrial sites were main users of the narrow gauge. In France extensive narrow gauge systems served agricultural areas. When the African Continent was being opened up, very long 2 foot gauge lines were built often 500 kms or more. Sugar can estates were heavily dependent on narrow gauge systems. Throughout the world narrow gauge systems were abundant and many survive to this day.
During the First World War, 2 foot gauge lines were used for military purposes on both sides of the conflict in Northern France, but it was in industry and agriculture that narrow gauge tracks were of particular value. Nowadays narrow gauge systems are in decline but the locomotives which ran on them are no longer scrapped. Most are now in collections such as can be seen here at Bredgar.
Public Open Days
Why not spend a day with us enjoying the pleasures of this delightful railway. Spend some time browsing around the engine shed where there are locomotives of various gauges and scales. See a water pumping beam engine at work and visit the souvenir shop.
Visit the Railway Tea Shop listening to the Dutch street organ playing outside or bring a picnic and sit by the railside and enjoy the regular trains puffing by. And, most importantly, enjoy a trip on the train, have as many rides as you like, numbers permitting. There are usually two engines in steam.
more that just a train ride….
On view in the engine shed there is a whole range of steam locomotives of varying gauges, freight and carriage stock, and other railway artifacts.
A corner of the engine shed has been built to represent a pumping station with a working Victorian Steam Driven Beam Engine.Not all steam powered vehicles require rails, The Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway has a collection of steam traction engines, agricultural and a showmans.For our younger visitors there is the Railway Shop and a LGB model railway.
There are walks in the woods and picnic areas, and plenty of places to just sit and watch the trains go by.
A Tea Room where home made cakes can be enjoyed while being entertained by the music of a Dutch Street Organ.
Steam Driving Experience Course
Our Steam Driving Courses are designed to give you as much ‘hands on’ experience as possible. The Course starts at 10.00am with a talk in which the basic engineering principles of a steam locomotive are explained, together with the important safety requirements. The locomotives are cleaned and the fires lit prior to 10.00am and they are ready for use by about 10.45am when the classroom session ends. Participants are shown over the locomotive they will use and its preparation and operation are explained in detail.
With steam raised and the operation of the controls understood, each engine is driven over the length of the track by participants in turn. After lunch, coaches are coupled up and the whole afternoon is devoted to driving, often with passengers on board the train for we welcome family members after 2.00pm. The day ends at about 4.15pm.
Although those attending will not get very dirty, working clothes or overalls and a pair of gardening-type gloves are essential.
In order that each person attending the course gets as much time as possible on the footplate, we limit the size of groups to six persons, i.e. three per engine.These courses are run during the Spring and Autumn each year.Courses may be arranged on alternative days but there is a minimum booking requirement of six people per day.
Courses are only open to people aged 18 years or over.
Course cost includes all tuition, tea, coffee and lunch.
For further details contact us by phone on 01622 884254
The BWLR is not a dusty museum of old relics, but a vibrant collection of restored railway and agricultural equipment. Over the years the railway has become a popular location for educational visits by schools and youth groups. There is no charge for educational groups and the format of the day can be tailored to suit the needs of each party depending upon age and level of educational interest. As well as instilling an interest in rail transport, a visit to Bredgar also helps broaden knowledge of industry and social history among young visitors.
If you would like further information contact us on 01622 884254
The Railway is a popular venue for a wide range of organisations from Rotary Clubs to railway enthusiast group photographic days. It is also used as a film location, for advertising photoshots, wedding parties and corporate enteraining.
Contact the railway to discuss your requirements 01622 884254
The Railway is available for hire by Party Organizers, Enthusiast Groups, Film & Television Companies, Advertising Agencies, Corporate Entertainment and Coach Tour Operators.
The Railway has appeared on Meridian television and has been used as a backdrop for advertisements.
For further details contact us by phone on 01622 884254