A few weeks ago a message popped up in our inbox letting us know about an open day on Easter Sunday at the Wester Pickston Miniature Railway just outside Methven. With only a few days in hand I quickly posted the info into our Small City Families group on Facebook and the response was phenomenal! In fact, we haven't seen that quick a reaction since we announced The Wee G & T Festival...which tells you something about our readers!
It was was an even split between those whose ears had pricked up by this seemingly new activity, and those who had discovered it last summer excitedly sharing pictures of their children hurting through a Perthshire forest aboard a fully functional miniature steam train.
A quick google search later and my curiosity got the better of me….I must know more!
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;
“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 - the next dates are 30th July & 3rd Sept and they all run 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 like this one of baby Elsie and Small City Mummy, Jemma!). 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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