Everything you read on these pages is my imagination running riot; my need to justify! Some of the pages have links to reality. Please enjoy this site and only believe what you want!
The Candlebridge Tramway is the culmination of my railway modelling experiences since the 1970s, what you read on these pages is the justification (in my mind) for a collection of railway aspects that appeals to me! The quaint, quintessentially English tramway is one that I love, these are my excuses for its continued existence in today’s modern world!
A LIKELY STORY!
The Tramway origins date back to 1878 when Mr N. Arthur petitioned the local authority to lay a two-foot gauge railway under the Tramways Act of 1870. The proposed railway would run from Boot Lane, Candlebridge to The Folly and Abbey ruins. With permission swiftly granted, a horse-drawn carriage was hauling passengers by the summer of 1879. The lines’ proximity to Oxford ensured a steady flow of visitors, and the short journey time enabled several round trips a day.
At two miles long, the Tramway follows Mill Brook and Cherrytree Lane for much of its length, slowly winding its way towards Folly Mill and a balloon loop, where trains halt briefly before returning to Boot Lane.
Arthur was nothing if not ambitious, and by 1882 he built his first steam-tram locomotive in the small workshops he had constructed at Boot Lane. Completing a second in 1888, it seemed as if nothing could stop him?
The 1870 Tramways Act included a compulsory purchase order in favour of the granting authorities. And following Merryweathers’ unexpected death in 1897, the parish council invoked the possession clause and took control of the Tramway. However, the new owners were not inclined to manage the railway, and by 1899 it was abandoned!
Following World War One, Captain W. Rose took an interest in the Tramway and negotiated a deal with the parish to purchase the railway. Taking ownership in 1921, he set about restoring the line. Purchasing new rolling-stock, and operating under original 1870 Tramways’ Order, he line re-opened for business in 1923. Like Arthur before him, Rose found the enterprise flourished, and he soon saw a return from his investment.
Forced to close during the second war, Rose managed to open the Tramway again in 1948. However, as his health began to fail, he lost interest in the railway during the 1950s and struggled to make the investments needed. In 1965 Rose was persuaded by a friend to established a trust to preserve the line; and the new trust set about its task with vigour, locating more rolling-stock, renovating buildings and expanding the workshops at Boot Lane. From the outset, the trust was passionate about maintaining the Tramway’s charm, and any alteration carefully considered before implementation. Captain Rose passed away in 1975, but he left a legacy of which to be proud.
In 1982 the Tramway was recognised by the local government as a potential tourist attraction and funding made available to support the railway, while 1995 saw the introduction of a year-round timetable. Today, the railway provides a glimpse into the past, as its trains transport the visitor back to the 1920s and the lazy, unhurried atmosphere of an eccentric English Tramway.