Narrow Gauge Pleasure

The Leighton Buzzard Railway

The Railway Today

The lull between trains at
Pages Park Station
Pc Allen built for export to Spain
in 1913 by Orenstein and Koppel AG
Younger volunteers give Pixie
a little TLC at Pages Park

Leighton Buzzard is a delightful market town which, although within striking distance of London and the overcrowded South East, is built in the heart of the green Bedfordshire countryside. It is also the home of the delightful Leighton Buzzard Railway.

The railway is a preserved industrial line built to a gauge of 2' with a length of just less than three miles. The main access for passengers is Page's Park Station in Leighton Buzzard.

Page's Park Station has its own car park and is well equipped for the visitor with its restaurant and souvenir shop, for those not wishing to patronise the restaurant there is also a picnic area. If the kids become impatient (they rarely do around steam trains!) the nearby recreational area has plenty of open space and a childrens play park, which should provide some distractions. The station itself is delightfully located amongst the overhanging trees on the edge of the park and perfectly captures the unhurried and relaxed atmosphere of an earlier era.

Perhaps the most well known feature of the Leighton Buzzard Railway is its exceptional collection of steam locomotives from around the world which includes examples from India, Spain and Africa, the railway is also well known for attracting many splendid visiting locomotives to its special events.

The red liveried rolling stock is all built since preservation and, while constructed to a more restricted loading gauge than many railways of this gauge, it is pleasant, comfortable and offers a choice of open and enclosed accommodation.

The little train negotiates sharp curves and a mixture of gradients as it carries the passengers through the houses on the outskirts of the town and out into the countryside to the quarry which is the only survivor of the Leighton Buzzard sand industry. On arrival at Stonehenge works the visitor is able to disembark and examine a large collection of artefacts from the history of the line including a number of the tiny diesel locos and sand skips which made up the trains during the years when the railway served the sand industry for which it was built.

History and Origins

Leighton Buzzard has been known for centuries for its sand. To most people sand is sand but to the discerning eye the sand from Leighton Buzzard is extremely high quality and very consistent in its properties. For decades 'Leighton Buzzard Sand' was specified by Industry and the British Standards Institute as the standard sand for testing many building industry products including cement.

One of the small diesels, its sand hauling
days finished, rests at Stonehenge

It is to the sand pits that the railway owes its existence. Originally built in 1919, with steam haulage in mind the diesel engines used by the contractors proved so successful that the steam engines were sold and the trains of sand skips were hauled by diesel for most of the life of the railway. The main line and its many branches and sidings served the sand inustry well until before starting to decline in the face of more flexible competition in the fifties and sixties.

By 1967 the writing on was on the wall for the Leighton Buzzard Railway and complete closure and dissappearance seemed inevitable. The Leighton Buzzard Railway Society was formed to rescue and preserve as much as possible of the line in the now well established tradition of railway preservation. Strangely the neat little trains of small red coaches and tiny steam engines are quite different from the sand skips and diesels which the line saw in its working life. The 2.85 miles that is in preservation is run very successfully by volunteers from the society and is one of the premier sites for preservation of the smaller types of narrow gauge motive power in Britain. Strangely the neat little trains of small red coaches and tiny steam engines are quite different from the sand skips and diesels which the line saw in its working life.

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Francis Gale   26 Mar 2012
First time on this track, a pension day birthday treet, It is an extremely interesting line with level crossings, where two people get off the train, stop the traffic with purple flags to allow us to cross. It meanders through parks, factories and peoples back gardens. Lots of children waving. Well worth a visit and I will definately be going again.
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