A POTTED HISTORY
Of all the British narrow-gauge railways to survive into preservation, the Candlebridge Tramway is the most unlikely. From humble beginnings, this tiny railway with almost no civil engineering is an improbable survivor.
The 1870 Tramways Act authorised local boroughs to grant 21-year concessions to private tramway operators, which gave a Mr N.A. Dadd the opportunity to exploit the Act and build a short railway without parliamentary permission!
An extraordinary gentleman, Dadd appears to have built the railway for no reason other than he wanted to prove a point. Along with his son, he constructed an almost level line from Dudcott that follows Moor Ditch for much of its length and accesses Candlebridge village.
The tramway opened for business in September 1875.
The Act stipulated several operating procedures, maximum speed, etc. But these were not issues for a railway only two miles in length. Dadd managed the tramway until 1912, when it was acquired by local businessman Francis Rose, following Dadd’s untimely death in 1909.
The business experienced an increase in popularity during the 1920s & 30s but, its fortunes declined following the second world war and Rose took proactive steps to secure the railways future in the 1960s.
He formed a trust that took control of the tramway and made improvements to safeguard the railways future.
Over the years, the tramway & village have retained an unaltered charm that has endeared them to enthusiasts & visitors alike.
Passengers begin their journey at Boot Lane where the tramway’s administration offices & workshop facilities are situated. A balloon loop was installed at Boot Lane in 1965, and trains now depart clockwise from this loop. Leaving Boot Lane, the railway joins Moor Ditch and duck under the main road together, then continue with the ditch on the left until they reach Peartree Halt. Pausing here and allowing trains to pass each other, the line crosses Peartree Road and continues to follow the ditch before bearing right. leaving it and closes on Candlebridge. The last few yards, the railway drops through a tree-lined cutting and arrives at The Folly. Here the locomotive runs around its train before returning along the line to Dudcott.