Strathaven Miniature Railway’s 75th birthday celebrations

Posted by Chris Graham on 25th March 2024

We look forward to the Strathaven Miniature Railway’s 75th birthday celebrations which should see enthusiasts flocking to South Lanarkshire.

Strathaven Miniature

Strathaven Miniature Railway: This early picture shows 2-6-0 Margaret and the original carriages used when the line opened, and was discovered in a local archive. (Pic: SMR)

The Strathaven Miniature Railway, Scotland’s oldest railway in its category, is celebrating notching up three-quarters of a century of running around in circles on its 7¼in gauge track at Strathaven Park, in South Lanarkshire. The SMR opened on Saturday, 14th May, 1949, when its first train was pulled by 2-6-0 Margaret. Now, on Tuesday, 14th May, 2024, the same loco will haul an anniversary special to mark the historic event.

Strathaven Miniature

Full steam ahead for 2-6-0 Margaret, which will re-enact the first train that ran on 14th May, 1949, on the same date 75 years later. (Pic: Hugh Dougherty)

Model Society secretary Ian Samson, said: “We realised that when Kerr’s Miniature Railway at Arbroath closed in 2020, we had fallen heir to the title of Scotland’s oldest miniature railway. In heritage railway terms –when you think about it – we actually pre-date the Talyllyn and the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, the UK’s and Scotland’s first heritage railway respectively. The B&K didn’t run its first train until 1981, so we’ve been around for a very long time.”

Proudly proclaiming that the line has notched up 75 years, as well as being Scotland’s oldest miniature railway, this badge has been specially created for the line’s historic milestone. (Pic: SMR)

SMR’s first train of 75 years ago will be re-enacted on 14th May, and miniature railway clubs from all over Scotland will be bringing along their steam locomotives to mark the event, running on the SMR’s 7¼, 5, 3½ and 2½in tracks, with the main emphasis on original loco Margaret, still a stalwart of the line, in action on the main 0.43-mile circuit.

A public celebration is being held on Saturday 22nd June, when Provost Margaret Cooper of South Lanarkshire Council will afford the society a civic reception, with all park activities being free for the day to attract as many visitors as possible to the railway. Passenger donations on the day are going to a local hospice.

Attention for Margaret between runs. This Strathaven stalwart is in fine fettle after 75 years of pulling park passengers on the SMR. (Pic: Hugh Dougherty)

“We estimate that we’ve carried around 765,000 passengers over the past 75 years,” said Ian. “We plan to be running when we reach our centenary in 2049 and ‘the wee train’, as the railway’s known to generations of Strathaven folk, has earned its place in the community. We’ve produced a logo for the 75th, and it will be on sale as a badge. We get a steady stream of enthusiasts visiting us during our season, when we run every Saturday and Sunday from March to the end of September, and visitors will be especially welcome in this, our special 75th anniversary year.

This news story comes from the latest issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE

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