A SIMPLE STORY
The 1870s Tramways Act authorised local boroughs to grant 21-year concessions to private tramway operators, and Sir Francis Rose exploited the act to build his railway. He engaged the services of a local designer Mr N.A. Dadd, who transferred his workshops to Boot Lane in 1885 and became the railway’s official engineer.
Construction started in the spring of 1886 and a two-foot gauge line was laid to access Candlebridge village, approximately two miles from Boot Lane. Dadd utilized equipment from an earlier unsuccessful venture, he surveyed an almost level line that followed the River Door for most of its length and Rose officially opened the Candlebridge Tramway in the summer of 1888.
Dadd also designed and built a locomotive for the tramway, which he constructed at Boot Lane and completed in time for the opening. The railway managed in its humble way until 1912 when it was sold to a local businessman, Jack Butler who experienced an increase in the tramways popularity in the 1920s & 30s. But following WWII the line’s fortunes were in decline and looked destined for closure on Butler’s death in 1965.
However, the railway was saved by a group of enthusiasts who purchased the line from Butler’s estate and took control of the Tramway Company. Since then many improvements have been wrought, including the addition of further stock, etc. Boot Lane remains the railway’s centre of activity today, with administration offices & workshop facilities.
Over the years, the tramway & village have retained an unaltered charm, that has endeared them to enthusiasts & visitors alike.
Passengers begin their journey from Boot lane, where the railway’s primary station buildings are located, the line sets out through a cutting with the road alongside, but soon crosses the road and continues along a ledge with the woods on one side, before reaching Door Halt. Pausing at Door (and allowing trains to pass each other), the railway joins and follows the river for over a mile, eventually crossing it and entering Candlebridge. The Tramway weaves its way through the village on a huge balloon loop, sweeping over a magnificent viaduct (Dadd was nothing, if not a showman) and finally stopping at The Folly. After a brief wait, the train leaves Candlebridge and returns along the valley to Boot Lane.