Web Page No 2186
18th August 2015
Top Picture: Far Tottering Station
Second Picture: Oyster Creek Station
Third Picture: Rowland Emett and his family by the engine shed and next to ‘Neptune’
Forth Picture: ‘Wild Swan’ Ready for departure
Fifth Picture: Cartoon of the Railway
The Far Tottering & Oyster Creek Railway
Do you remember the Festival of Britain?, Especially its funfair held in Battersea Park? Well I do and when my Grandmother lived in London I was taken to the fair several times. What most children remember about the fair is the fantasy railway designed by Rowland Emett.
To some, the pleasure gardens at Battersea Park were the Festival of Britain, but the site - in the centre of the park - was actually quite small, measuring no more than a few hundred yards across. The east side was a fairly conventional funfair, with a boating lake, big dipper ride and all the usual sideshows, while the west end was a bit smarter, featuring a fern house, fountains, elegant walkways, restaurants and a theatre. Linking the two areas was Emett’s miniature railway. No ordinary railway, but a creation the likes of which had never been seen before and are very unlikely to be seen again: the Far Tottering & Oyster Creek Railway.
By 1944, the nation needed to escape from grim reality and the fantasy branch lines to Far Twittering and other even stranger places submitted to Punch caught the popular imagination. Emett and Nellie the locomotive become great favourites and amongst them was James Gardner, the designer of the Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens and he asked Emett to translate the his drawings into a working miniature railway and the stage was set for one of the most extraordinary miniature lines ever created.
Emett was put in touch with Harry Barlow, a councillor and businessman from Southport, whose company S & B Miniature Railways Ltd had built a miniature railway line at Alexandra Palace in 1950. It was decided that steam would have been impractical so it was decided to use internal combustion engines as the power plants and to use ex-army generators which were plentiful, cheap as the power plant.
Three different locomotives were built from Emett’s designs; Nellie, 'Neptune' and 'Wild Goose'.
Sadly there seems to have been no attempt to record the construction of the line, even its length of the line was debatable, being variously put at 500 yards or a third of a mile, but it was probably a little longer.
In total, more than eight million people visited the Pleasure Gardens during the Festival and one in four visitors to Battersea took a ride to Far Tottering. Trains were of four to eight carriages, each seating at least 12, and there were three trains running at busy times. Thus the railway handled 1000 visitors an hour and it was at full capacity for much of the summer and the platforms were known as 'Coming' and 'Going', A very cheerful Barlow claimed to have recouped his investment by week three, giving him a handsome return on this gamble, the railway reopened in early 1952 and ran throughout the summer, after the official closure of the Festival and proved to be a financial success.
All went well until Wednesday 11th July 1951 when two full trains entered the same section of track and collided just outside Oyster Creek station. In the resulting crash one woman was killed and a further 12 passengers injured. Today, the railway would probably have been closed for good, but ‘Neptune’, was soon operating a safe single-train service, and once ‘Nellie’ and ‘WiId Goose’ had been repaired it was business as usual. No formal enquiry was held, and the coroner's inquest produced a verdict of accidental death.
But what happened to the Emett railway? Harold Barlow rebuilt the locomotives to look like the record holder ‘Mallard’ renamed them, Nellie becoming 'Princess Anne', Neptune 'Princess Margaret Rose', and Wild Goose 'Prince Charles'. After the closure of the Festival the track was lifted and relaid on the other side of the Park. The railway staggering to 1975 then closed. Princess Anne and Princess Margaret Rose were moved to Shanklin destined for the short-lived Medina Valley line and both were subsequently scrapped in the early 1980s. Wild Goose, nee Prince Charles, fared better, and today is the sole survivor is owned by Austin Moss and resides at the Windmill Farm Railway in Lancashire.
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News and Views:
On this day 18th August 1960-1965
On 18/08/1960 the number one single was Please Don't Tease - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/08/1961 the number one single was You Don't Know - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/08/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/08/1963 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/08/1964 the number one single was Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/08/1965 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was Liverpool. The top rated TV show was 'Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £ 11.69 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. Watts race riots in US and the big news story of the day was Riviera Police (AR)