Looking back

I had often watched the standard gauge trains on the Thorpe side of Norwich, but never knew what a "narrow gauge" train was, until my parents took me to Bressingham Gardens Steam Museum.  There I found a small train with open carriages weaving it's way through the nurseries and woodland at Alan Bloom's wonderful gardens.  I found out it was a 2 foot gauge Welsh engine from the slate quarries.  Apart from many other attractions, there were more engines of a similar type, also a woodland line with 4-6-2 locomotives, and a miniature railway around the gardens.
Never before had I seen a quaint train bouncing up and down on a small track weaving in and out of the flowers and trees.  I was fascinated and had many later visits there.

(Click on images to enlarge)
"George Sholto" at Bressingham in the 1970's

This must have been the first picture I had ever taken of a narrow gauge locomotive. "Bronllwyd" on the Nursery Line, Bressingham.

Because of my propensity to model anything transport related I really wanted to make something similar.  The pocket money in the late 1960's didn't stretch that far and I had never seen a model of a narrow gauge train anyway.  But, one day I saw a models of just such a thing at a small model shop in St Benedict's Street in Norwich near the old Jarvis's department store.

They were little 0-6-2 and 0-6-0 tank locos, one made by "Liliput" and the other by "Roco" along with some mine wagons.  I crazed my mother to have them, and she bought them for my birthday along with some bendy track with crazy wooden sleepers.  Later, in Woolworth's of all places, I found a Playcraft 0-4-0 tank engine with an open cab just like the ones at Bressingham but with a roof, and some open sided coaches with what appeared to be curtains along the sides.

My dad made me a baseboard, and I tried to make my first proper model railway.  But, I found the track hard to lay and the loco's didn't run very well either, probably due to my lack of knowledge on how to keep them clean, especially in a bedroom environment.

A Liliput 0-6-0 loco like the one I originally owned, though this one has been re-painted.

After a few months I gave up on the task as I found it so frustrating trying to keep things running, and the stock was sold back as second hand to the model shop, and my interests moved on to other, more usual things as my teenage years came on.