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 little village of Candlebridge lies on the River Thames between Dorchester & Abingdon in Oxfordshire, almost three miles from Dudcott and its mill. In 1865, J. Merryweather laid tracks from the mill, along Mill Stream towards Candlebridge, setting the rails three-feet apart, wide enough for a horse to walk between them. Very few records of this period survive, and the line appears to have become abandoned in 1895?
Fast forward to 1921, and Captian J.T. Butler, fresh from the Royal Engineers, moved into Candlebridge and, discovering the remains of the railway, became captivated by the prospect of re-opening it. Rose pursued legal ownership of the Tramway Company through the courts and established possession by late 1922. Utilising surplus War Department narrow-gauge equipment he extended the line, building a new station at Dudcott and improved facilities at Candlebridge. By mid-1923, trains were once again operating on the little railway. The Captain employed Miss W. Cathcart as General Manager, an ex-school headmistress and by all accounts, a fearsome woman, under who’s watchful eye the Tramway actually turned a profit. The two eventually married, and it was ultimately Cathcart’s idea to create the Candlebridge Tramway Trust.
At two & a half miles in length and mostly laid on flat, level ground, the railway leaves Dudcott Road and bears right angles towards the old mill at Boot Lane. The line sweeps to the right, and Boot Lane Halt with the workshops on the left, continuing towards the main road where both the stream & railway dip under the highway bridge (rebuilt in 1975) and travel beside the water until reaching Cherrytree Lane. Stepping out once again with the stream still on the left, the railway crosses Moor Ditch as it bears right towards Candlebridge leaving Mill Stream behind. For the final quarter-mile, the railway becomes increasingly tree-lined; and the last few yards climb steeply into Candlebridge station with a long brick wall on the left and the station building on the right.
The line closed during the second war but quickly reopened again in 1945, with the Trust taking control of the Company in 1965 as the Captain’s health started to fail. Over the years the Trust has been able to source more stock, while 1975 saw considerable redevelopment at Boot Lane with a new yard layout & workshop, Capt Butler passed away at the age of eighty-one in 1978, and his wife in 1988, aged ninety-one. Over the years Dudcott has expanded into a small town, while Candlebridge has remained a small, idyllic village on the river. In the mid-1980s, the Tramway & Trust began to attract the attention of local authorities, who were promoting “year-round” tourism in the county and wanted to include support for the little railway. Funding was made available to assist the Trust, and by 1988 the Company was maintaining a full summer timetable. 1995 finally saw the introduction of “year-round” operations, and the Company now operates approximately two thousand trains to Candlebridge every year and is one of several tourist attractions in Oxfordshire.