TDF Rly - A Brief History
All good railways have a history and Tumble Down Falls Railway is no different, so where did it start:
In the late 19th century mineral ore was discovered in the Down Hills but being considered to be unstable it was decided that the ore would be mined through “open-face” mining technique from the top of the hill. Mining was good and quickly a narrow-gauge railway was built to transport the ore down the hill to Wyvern Halt, a link to the main line for onward transport.
In 1939 disaster struck when storms and heavy rains caused an underground spring to burst into the mine and it was with such volume that pumping out was all but impossible, and with the onset of WWII the mine was abandoned.
Move forward to 1951 and the landowner discovered the new water course had carved an attractive flow through the landscape and so started to cultivate the area as large “rock-garden”. The Railway tracks still being laid, in 1954 he considered renovating and using the tracks for his own use, and soon after purchased his first loco, a continental “Otto”, and some assorted mismatched rolling stock.
By the early 60’s he had opened the gardens to the public and it was immensely popular, and one of the questions repeatedly asked was if the train was in use. His first task was to make the journey to the mine from Wyvern Halt (no longer with a main line connection) a circular route, and so created a large loop. Now with all the necessary permits in place, and a couple more locos and in 1965 “Tumble Down Falls Railway” was opened, the name being derived by the collapse of Down Hill and a new water course being established.
Rolling stock is a mixture of what takes the owners fancy, whether locos, carriages, or wagons, if the equipment is in reasonable condition, it is often left in its original livery, however if major work is required and requires going into the local repair facility then a TDF Rly livery is applied, which is based around Burgundy and gold lettering.
The railway has now proved to be so popular that there are now rumours of a brand-new extension that could take in other parts of the estate – time will tell.