The railway’s history has been long and, at times, quite complex. On this page, we’ve put some pictures to illustrate the story. If you would like to read a full account, go now to a detailed history in words.
The railway was originally designed by Henry Greenly, a talented engineer. He thought that the Marine Lake was an ideal place for a miniature line and history has proved his judgment correct. This postcard is thought to date from 1911 and. the locomotive is Prince Edward of Wales, a Little Giant Class 10 4-4-2 built by Bassett-Lowke.
The railway’s construction and first season was documented in ‘Models, Railways and Locomotives’, including an account of one day when they carried 5,000 passengers.
When the railway was built, the only other attractions at the Marine Lake were boating rides and the water chute. However, as the Lake became more popular, a thriving fairground was built up. The railway formed an integral part of this. As you entered the site, a simmering steam locomotive would be one of the first things you saw.
Who could resist a ride?
This postcard proclaims:
RHYL MINIATURE RAILWAY, BUILT By ALBERT BARNES & Co, RHYL. These minute engines are an exact replica of their larger sisters, fitted with superheaters and all the latest improvements. During the summer they run around the Beautiful shores of the MARINE LAKE at “SUNNY RHYL”.
Packed trains like this one must every miniature railway operator’s dream!
This postcard was taken in 1978, when the track had just been re-laid. It still followed the old circular route around the lake, although there has been some realignment and trains now climb steeper gradients than they did in the old days. The locomotive here is No. 105, Michael, still carrying its livery from 1969.
Since 1978, the railway has had a more difficult time economically, with fewer visitors coming to Rhyl and a smaller proportion of them finding the Marine Lake, behind the west end of the sea front. Even so, we strive for future generations to be able to enjoy scenes like this one.
Since 1980, local businessman Les Hughes has enabled the RMR to stay in steam, having become the owner of most of the railway’s locomotives and carriages. This photograph of him with Joan was taken in 1996.
Les is Chairman of Rhyl Steam Preservation Trust, which took over operation of the railway in 2001.
We also owe a lot to the driver here, Ken Dove. He became inseparable from the railway from 1982 until his death in 1994.
Against all manner of adverse circumstances, he always managed to keep the wheels turning. This photograph, with Joan, was taken in May 1987 when he had just managed to secure the reopening of the railway following a previous dispute with the Council. This is why Ken was smiling!
Simon Townsend first joined the railway as a volunteer in 1991. Here he was caught by the local press photographer, lighting up Joan during August 1994 – a difficult time for the railway just after Ken Dove had died.
Simon is now Secretary of Rhyl Steam Preservation Trust, RMR general factotum, writer of cheques and honorary toilet cleaner.
Full steam ahead for another ninety years!
Since formation of Rhyl Steam Preservation Trust, additional stock has arrived, the volunteer team has grown and RMR passenger numbers have grown by a factor of four.
Our ‘Central Station’ project represented five years of volunteer work and the new building finally opened in May 2007. In all it cost £760,000, which was largely financed by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Denbighshire County Council EC Key Fund, Welsh Assembly Government and Communities First.
As part of the project the main railway assets were donated into the ownership of Rhyl Steam Preservation Trust putting the railway onto firm foundations for its Centenary year of 2011 and beyond.
We now have our own support organisation ‘Friends of Rhyl Miniature Railway’.
The railway achieved Accredited Museum Status in September 2010.
If you want to see more old pictures of Rhyl Miniature Railway you should visit Denbighshire Archives, where the photographic collection of Rhyl Steam Preservation Trust has now been made available for public viewing.