Yesterday I started thinking about some of the more unusual things I’ll have to take from my garden when I move next Spring. One of the larger items is a section of two-foot gauge railway line, a right-hand turn-out to be exact, or a point as it is commonly known. This substantial lump of steel and ironwork weighs in at around a half ton and is buried in the garden. Buried? Yes, well, I had this mad idea that I wanted to just see the head of the rail through the grass so dug out turf in the garden and buried it. The idea worked and made a lovely little quirky feature in front of my museum shed but now it’s got to come out, I can’t leave it there now can I?
I guess you want to know why I wanted it? Some years ago in 1985 when I lived in Southerndown, there was a large piece of waste ground alongside the property which was formerly a car park. On this site I constructed a 2ft gauge railway. The first track was made of prefabricated track panels, rather like a giant train set, and included one turn-out in the half-oval circuit. The rail was from Chalk Pits Museum in Sussex and was surplus to their requirements. The photo here shows the turn-out during the early phase of construction of the Little West Narrow Gauge Garden Railway.
Some years later all the track was replaced with heavier gauge rail to enable larger locomotives to run on the line. At this time the old turn-out was moved to another part of the railway to provide a head shunt on a reversing line into the garage where the locomotives were stored and this photograph shows my Ruston & Hornsby posed on this section of the line. The railway was dismantled in 2005 and most of it sold on but this one solitary turn-out remained so I kept it.
Whilst I was digging the track out, carefully scraping all the earth from it and exposing it so I could lift it out, my thoughts went to the Time Team crew and I half expected to hear Tony Robinson and his gang begin speculating on how a piece of railway line came to be buried in a domestic dwelling garden!