RAVENGLASS & ESKDALE RAILWAY
The Ravenglass & Eskdale, known as ‘La’al Ratty’, might look a bit like the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch, but its origins are very different. The RDHR was built as a 15in gauge plaything for two millionaires; the ‘Ratty’ opened as a 3ft gauge line in 1875 to move iron ore. The 3ft gauge line soldiered on until 1913, when financial pressure and decrepid infrastructure forced closure. Narrow Gauge Railways Ltd, formed by a group of like-minded miniature railway enthusiasts, including Wenman Joseph Bassett-lowke, bought the remains and converted it to 15in gauge as a test track for Bassett-lowke products. The new-look railway re-opened in 1915 and still survives in this form, although it has had a chequered history and was almost sold for scrap in 1960. Fortunately, it became the first miniature railway to be preserved, and since those early days, has gone from strength to strength.