Gareth Evans visits the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and talks to its two young owners about their plans to extend and continue to grow passenger numbers on the classic seaside line, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.
In the minds of most people, the traditional profile of a miniature railway owner would probably be a middle-aged man, who had gained experience with other business interests, who perhaps fancied the prospect of a challenging but seemingly fun thing to do in the run up to retirement.
However, the owners of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway (CCLR) have a combined age of only 48 – and they’re now into their fourth year of operating the Lincolnshire coast
The CCLR marked its 70th anniversary in style over the weekend of July 14-15 (as reported in issue 244) with a gala – an event that’s set to be repeated next year.
Shortly before the gala, I enjoyed my inaugural visit to the line. I was immediately struck by the welcoming staff, their enthusiasm shining through. It was clear all were keen to remember the past while looking forward to the future
Since 2014, the CCLR has been owned by business partners Peter Bryant, 26, and John Kerr, 22.
“When we took over the line, we had a combined age of 40 and people told us that most 40 year olds hadn’t done anything like this,” recalled Peter.
Asked how he got into it, Peter replied: “My grandparents lived in Weston-super-Mare. As a child, a 7¼in-gauge miniature railway ran along the seafront, which I grew to love – and dad also built a garden railway.
“I bought an Ian Allan ABC book on miniature railways. I tried to visit as many as I could and I got to know those involved.
For whatever reason, I was fixated on miniature railways – I think it’s because miniature lines are approachable and not so daunting to a child. I also believe that because the field of railways is so broad, you have to focus on particular aspects.
“In circa 2004, the book was out of date, and I decided to build a miniature railway website that did essentially the same as the book. I no longer have to time to update it as often as in the past, but it’s still live at: www.miniaturerailwayworld.co.uk
“I wanted people to visit the miniature railways and through that website, one of the people I got to know was Chris Shaw, who ran the CCLR. We created a forum on the site.
Read more and view more images in Issue 245 of HR – on sale now!Enjoy more Heritage Railway reading in the four-weekly magazine. Click here to subscribe.