Tiny Trains and Big Smiles

Rhona Maxwell

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Last summer we discovered that there's a fully functioning miniature steam railway, just outside Methven, where kids and adults can quite frankly have the time of their lives at their open days! With the memories of us hurtling through the Perthshire forest, cries of 'all aboard!' and tears of laughter still fresh in my mind I'm delighted to let you know about this year's open days!

Open days for 2018 will be Sundays 1st April, 27th May, 29th July & 26th August. This year it's set to be even bigger and better with new Traction Engine carts, new padded seats and a second rail route around the site!

What if I told you there's a fully functioning miniature steam railway you can ride just outside Perth? If you're as curious as I was, then here's everything you need to know!

The Scottish Model Engineering Trust was formed in 2001 and purchased a seven acre piece of woodland on which it runs the Wester Pickston Railway (WPR) just 3 miles from Methven. There’s a ground level track with trains, an outdoor Garden Railway and extensive woodland paths where they run steam powered road models. But who exactly are ‘they’?

As any self-respecting Thomas The Tank Engine fan knows, all good railways have a station master, and we spoke to Trevor Goody, childhood train spotter in London and trustee who acts as station master on open days at WPR to fill us in;

Tiny Trains passengers“The railway is operated entirely by volunteers who pay a membership fee. The members are generally enthusiasts who own their own small locomotives (everything from from gas fired remote controlled steam engines, large passenger carrying steam and electric engines to steam powered traction engines and lorries). One of our members Chris Vine is also the author of the successful children's books series Peter's Railway.”

As well as the various tracks there’s a kitted out workshop facility, equipped with tools and machines for members to tinker away until their heart’s content making their tiny trains look and perform the best they can. There’s even a wee kitchen for taking a well-earned break, which doubles up as a café on open days.

WPR run four Open Days a year -  from 11.30am-4pm. Entry and parking is free and you pay a couple of quid for a ride on some of the trains (and, let’s face it, a pretty damn cool selfie!). You can chat to the members, take a walk in the woods, have a cuppa or bring a picnic AND there’s even baby change facilities! As a registered charity WPR spends all of their proceeds from open days on improving the facilities and track.



WPR currently has 81 members from all over Scotland including the Isle of Skye, Inverness and Aberdeen. Anyone who operates a miniature steam locomotive needs it safety tested annually and WPR are an approved centre for carrying out these checks which helps with their membership, but they’re looking to recruit new local members to help with the running of it. Do have a think about whether you know anyone that would love this!

Members, affectionately referred to as ‘the usual crew’, are generally on the site up to 3 days a week, building and repairing the trains / tracks and undertaking everything from gardening, bricklaying and building construction to track laying.

They actively encourage and welcome young potential engineers who are the life blood of the hobby, and offer a wide range of training opportunities in the workshop for those interested to learn.

For more information about membership, and contact details for WPR, visit their website>>>


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