Volunteers steam ahead for time they can share their hobby once more

All aboard (from left) Kevin Dennett, Martin Manning, Andrew Ward, John Holland, Elaine Holland, Charlie Ledden, Valarie Ledden and Carol Mew.All aboard (from left) Kevin Dennett, Martin Manning, Andrew Ward, John Holland, Elaine Holland, Charlie Ledden, Valarie Ledden and Carol Mew.
All aboard (from left) Kevin Dennett, Martin Manning, Andrew Ward, John Holland, Elaine Holland, Charlie Ledden, Valarie Ledden and Carol Mew.
A life-long love of steam trains was born when a Lincolnshire woman saw the Flying Scotsman pass by at the bottom of her garden when she was just four years old.

"I guess it was inevitable I'd get hooked with a railway always being nearby when l was growing up," recalled Kay Manning.

"When l saw the Flying Scotsman and its strength and beauty, that image stayed with me.

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"Now grown up and married, we often have holidays with railways involved - the National Railway Museum at York is a favorite place to visit. You could say steam is my wow."

Kevin Dennett - Evergreens Miniature Railway committee member and land owner.Kevin Dennett - Evergreens Miniature Railway committee member and land owner.
Kevin Dennett - Evergreens Miniature Railway committee member and land owner.

Kay is a member of Evergreens Miniature Railway - a community run club which had been running for about 15 years in Stickney, before moving in 2017 to its current location in a four-and-a-half acre flat field named 'Dawn Bank', not far off the A16 at Keal Cotes.

The volunteers, like other community-run railways, have found this year challenging financially because they have not been able to open to the public.

A 'friendly group' of 38 members, they love nothing more than to share their hobby with others - but this, like the railway, has been scaled down to just members.

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Kay says she was first introduced to the group by an article in the Boston Standard.

Kevin Dennett adjusting the signal box.Kevin Dennett adjusting the signal box.
Kevin Dennett adjusting the signal box.

"Having endlessly watched Thomas the Tank Engine with my son, when we read the article about a miniature railway at Stickney we had to visit.

"We all loved it - to see those scaled-down steam engines running was definitely a whoo-hoo moment.

"The people at Stickney Evergreens were so friendly and happy to tell us about their individual engines etc.

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"We visited again and that was it- hooked - we decided to become members.

L-R Valarie Ledden of Sutton on Sea, club secretary, and Carol Mew of Hagnaby Lock.L-R Valarie Ledden of Sutton on Sea, club secretary, and Carol Mew of Hagnaby Lock.
L-R Valarie Ledden of Sutton on Sea, club secretary, and Carol Mew of Hagnaby Lock.

"My husband built our first loco. His dad had worked on Boston docks so he built a diesel outline shunter that might have been seen at Boston docks.

"But it is a petrol-powered hydraulic. My husband is an agricultural engineer who is used to working with metal, so we have a 7.25" gauge loco, which l have driven many many times, yes lots of laps at Stickney!

"Then we bought a 5" gauge steam loco followed by a 7.25" gauge steam loco. and l have a 5" gauge battery-electric!

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"Our son used to enjoy being in the signal box at Stickney but he has driven public around too."

Elaine Fox of Mablethorpe, club treasurer.Elaine Fox of Mablethorpe, club treasurer.
Elaine Fox of Mablethorpe, club treasurer.

When the railway was asked to move from Stickney, finding a new location was a major operation. The group could not afford to buy land but committee member Kevin Bennett could.

"We had to move lock, stock, and barrel - well everything we could take from Stickney into storage," said Kay.

"That was not just the rails, sleepers and ballast but also signals, gantry, signal box and coaches."

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Kevin added: "I feel very pleased that the club now has a secure future and a fantastic site that provides us with a lot of opportunities to expand our activities.

"So although it was a very sad day when we left Stickney, we now have a new home that will be bigger and better than we could have achieved at the old site."

Evergreens Miniature Railway has everything you would expect - just smaller.

Andrew Ward of Sutterton.Andrew Ward of Sutterton.
Andrew Ward of Sutterton.

"We have coal (steam), battery/electric and petrol-driven locomotives," said Kay. "The Sidings is a second-hand porta-cabin which we have been using as a shelter really and a catering van called the Food Station - we managed to bring it from Stickney.

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"Hot and cold food and drinks served on open days and there are also two porta-loos . All very basic at the moment but with big plans for the future."

Moving to Dawn Bank means there is always work to be done when the group meet socially distanced on Wednesdays and at weekends.

"At present we have around 460m (1470ft) of 7.25” ground level track and 260m(850ft) of raised 5” track, with a further 247m(770ft) of ground level still to lay.," said Kevin.

"This will make a really great continuous run of over 700m(2240ft) before returning to the station."

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"Members have worked extremely hard to lay what we have so far," added Kay.

"I say 'so far' because the re-build plan will happen in stages."

Volunteers are steaming ahead until they are able to open to the public once more.

"The club started to run trains and open up to the public in the summer of 2019," said Kay.

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"It was fantastic! We very much like to share our hobby with others.

"A Santa Special was held and feedback from those attending was lovely and so positive. The occasion was enjoyed by both the public and members.

"We do rely on running trains for the public to ride on. It gives us the funds to maintain the railway and also in this case rebuild.

"We have been using what we salvaged from Stickney but certain things need new materials.

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"More running days were scheduled for 2020 to help fund this, with members buoyant after the success of the Santa Specials.

"But with no open days, the rebuild work has had to stop and the club's treasurer has had no choice other than to halt any material purchases.

"We have launched a fundraiser but also want the public to know that Evergreens is still there and members hope, once Covid allows, to run trains again."

Kevin added: "We try to be an 'inclusive' club and encourage anyone whose interested, be that young or old, male or female.

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"This is an interesting hobby that encompasses every thing from the nostalgia of steam trains, the running and maintenance of railways and the organisation of trains right through to the dealing and interacting with people, catering and the running of an enterprise.

"We very much want to pass on the years of experience we've gained to the next generation of rail fans - after all, these will be the people to take over the operation in years to come."

To find out more about Evergreens Miniature Railway, visit www.evergreensminiaturerailway.org/

To support the fundraiser, visit gofundme.com/f/evergreens-miniature-railway

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