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 1885 when Mr William Rose petitioned the local authority to lay a two-foot gauge railway, using a loophole in the original Tramways Act of 1870. The proposed railway would run from Candlebridge to Folly Mill, and with equipment acquired from the renowned Isaac Boulton, of Boulton’s Sidings fame, the Candlebridge Tramway opened for business in the spring of 1888.
At just under three miles long, the railway leaves Candlebridge through a cutting in the hill, skirting round the valley before rejoining the road to The Swan. From there it follows the River Door all the way to Folly Mill; trains ducking under the road, then over the river before entering a balloon loop and the mill, where they halt briefly before returning to Candlebridge. The lines’ proximity to Oxford ensures a steady flow of visitors, and the short journey time allows several round trips a day.
However, Roses’ unexpected death in 1895 forced a change of management. The original 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 weeks of his death. The Council managed the Tramway until the outbreak of War in 1914 when the decision was made, to close the line.
Following the War, Candlebridge Parish Council, eager to discharge their responsibilities for the Tramway, sold it to Captain Jack Butler, who re-opened the railway in 1921. Butler intended to operate as a tourist attraction, even giving consideration to rebuilding the line as a miniature railway. But, the chance acquisition of second-hand, two-foot stock, secured the Tramways future as a narrow-gauge railway.
The railway actually became quite profitable during the 1920s & 30s until the outbreak of World War II when it was, once again, forced too close. Butler re-opened the line in 1948, but his health was beginning to fail and he lost interest in the business. Struggling to make the investments needed, in 1965 a college persuaded him to establish the Candlebridge Trust to preserve the line.
The new trust set about their task with vigour, acquiring more rolling-stock, renovating buildings and expanding the facilities at Boot Lane. From the outset, they were passionate about maintaining the Tramway’s charm, with any alteration carefully considered before implementation. Captain Butler died in 1975, but he left a legacy of which to be proud.
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.