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 appeal to me! The quaint, quintessentially English narrow-gauge railway is one that I love, these are my excuses for its continued existence in today’s modern world!
A SIMPLE STORY
The Tramway’s 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 Candlebridge to Folly Mill, and using equipment from the closed Door Valley Quarry Company, of which Arthur was a Director, the Tramway opened in the spring of 1879.
At almost three miles long, the Tramway leaves Candlebridge and skirts around the valley before picking up the road again to The Swan, where it joins Mill Brook and follows the stream towards Folly Mill. Trains duck under the road before entering the balloon loop, where they halt briefly before returning to Candlebridge. The lines’ proximity to Oxford ensures a steady flow of visitors, and the short journey time enables several round trips a day.
The whole situation changed with Arthur’s unexpected death in 1895; the 1870 Tramways Act included a compulsory purchase order in favour of the granting authorities, and Candlebridge Parish Council invoked the clause, taking control of the Tramway within days of his death. The Council managed the Tramway until the outbreak of War in 1914 when the decision made, to close the line.
Following the War, Candlebridge Parish Council, eager to discharge their responsibilities for the Tramway, sold it to Captain (Jack) Williams, who re-opened the railway in 1921. Williams made a couple of investments, including the acquisition of a third locomotive, from the Corris Railway. The Tramway continued its quiet existence during the 1920s & 30s until the outbreak of World War II when it was, once again, forced too close. Williams managed to re-open the railway in 1948. However, as his health began to fail, he lost interest in the line during the 1950s and struggled to make the investments needed. In 1965 he established a trust to preserve the line; who set about the task with vigour, locating more rolling-stock, renovating buildings and expanding the workshops at Boot Lane. From the outset, they were passionate about maintaining the Tramway’s charm, and any alteration carefully considered before implementation. Captain Williams died 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 line provides a glimpse into the past, as its trains transport the visitor back to the 1920s and the lazy, unhurried atmosphere of the eccentric English narrow-gauge railway.