The Friends of the
National Railway Museum

South of England Group
Vice Presidents: Richard Hardy; Sir William McAlpine Bt, FRSE, FCIT, FRSA

Last Update

    5 April 2011

Beecehes Light Railway and Exbury Gardens
  30 April 2006 & 5 May 2006

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We received an invitation for 30th April from the Chairman of Chiltern Railways, Adrian Shooter, to visit his private 2ft gauge line, the Beeches Light Railway, at his home in Steeple Aston, near Heyford. The invitation, of course, came through our connection with the use of the company's station meeting room.

The event was the first steaming of Adrian's Sharp Stewart 1889-vintage 0-4-0STT loco from the Darjeeling and Himalayas Railway. Adrian repatriated it around the turn of this century and has it rebuilt at Tysley.

He has also had a rake of coaches built at the Ffestiniog's Boston Lodge works for the engine to pull.

We spent a pleasant few hours watching the engine and train ascend and descent the gradients in Adrian's garden, as well as travelling behind it and enjoying a very pleasant roast lunch in his replica station building.

The following Friday, 5th May, we joined the party of Friends coming from the North, to visit Exbury Gardens. There we were met by the joint owner, Leo de Rothschild, who gave us a brief introduction to the gardens and railway, and then personally drove our special train for an extended tour. This included two complete circuits as well as a run past. Leo then personally drove some of our party round the rest of the gardens in an electric minibus. This was followed by lunch in the private dining room and the opportunity to tour the rest of the gardens at leisure while some of the part from the North visited the nearby National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.