Evening Telegraph (First Edition)
Rail owner moves after plans halted
ARBROATH’S miniature railway owner has taken over one of Scarborough’s biggest tourist draws after talks around the Angus attraction hit the buffers.
John Kerr has announced the acquisition of North Bay heritage railway in the North Yorkshire tourist town, a 90-year-old holiday magnet which pulls in around 120,000 passengers a year.
Kerr’s Miniature Railway in Arbroath closed last year.
Mr Kerr said the new “significant investment” by himself and business partner Peter Bryant was “Angus’s loss and Scarborough’s gain”.
The news comes amid a continuing row over plans to create a £200,000 crazy golf course at Arbroath’s West Links.
Mr Kerr said: “This opportunity came forward late last year and we are delighted to be taking it on.
“Of course we would have liked to have seen the railway in Arbroath survive because it has been in the town for 85 years.
“But the council is not showing any interest and I feel they have led me down the garden path. It’s a massive relief we have taken over the running of Scarborough because there are authorities who will support schemes like this.”
Mr Kerr and Mr Bryant have also operated the Cleethorpes Light Railway since 2015.
He added: “We are now running the major attraction in Cleethorpes and the fourth largest attraction in Scarborough, so I don’t think that’s bad going by the age of 25.
“It’s just a shame it is Arbroath that is missing out because I would have loved to see the railway continue to thrive.
“We worked hard and put investment into it, but feel a bit hoodwinked. The council needs to open its eyes and see the potential.
“Kerr’s Miniature Railway still exists, it’s just not running, but I am moving to Scarborough to devote my energies to making Heritage Bay an even greater success.”
Mr Kerr’s hopes of reviving the Arbroath railway and ploughing £75,000 into extending the track fell apart after the collapse of discussions with Angus Council.
He was working with officials on a plan to have the railway return as part of a wider West Links redevelopment, including the crazy golf course which was branded by one councillor as belonging in the 1960s.
But Mr Kerr received an email saying the council was going ahead with the golf plan but did not intend to take the railway idea forward.
Three generations of the Kerr family have operated the miniature railway, until dwindling numbers forced its closure at the end of its 85th anniversary year in 2020.
A second tourism operator’s ambitious plan to develop a dinosaur park and Scotland’s first artificial caving system at West Links has also fallen through.
Selkie Rocks previously operated at West Links but company boss Iain Lilly said council chiefs had cold-shouldered proposals to develop the ageing attractions.
The authority is putting town centre regeneration funding into developing the fully-accessible crazy golf at the seafront site. It has said options for further developments are under consideration.