Nestled deep in the heart of Oxfordshire lies the Candlebridge Tramway, the brainchild of Sir Thomas Rose, known affectionately to his family & friends as Jack.
Born into a wealthy family in 1912, a keen lover of Opera and a collector of objet d’art, he amassed an extraordinary assortment of railway artefacts. Jack always had ambitions of building a steam railway of his own, but tended to be guided by his somewhat traditional father, who advised against such a project.
Jack’s father passed away in 1965, and he found himself sole inheritor of the family estate. Jack immediately disposed of certain assets from the family estate and made a few tentative plans towards building a tramway at the grounds of the family home.
In 1967, he was offered what remained of the Door Valley Railway collection and his ambition of building a railway in his back garden finally came to fruition!
In due course, a line emerged from one corner of the estate at Boot Lane and headed out to what became Candelbridge station. The first train ran over this line in 1975, visits being by invitation only.
During the following years, the railway was extended with a balloon loop behind Boot Lane Halt and ultimately a second behind Candlebridge, with extensive workshop and storage facilities built just out of sight of Boot Lane.
The railway officially opened to the public in 1982, and it now operates daily throughout the summer months.
Made a peer of the realm in 1988, Jack passed away in 1995 at the age of eighty-three. However, he had the foresight to secure the railway’s future with the Candlebridge Tramway Trust, which enabled his vision to continue after his death.
Since his death, it has continued to grow as an attraction, with other historic buildings and equipment being added to the lineside.
The railway is a unique example of something that “might have been”. A tiny railway with some extraordinarily rolling stock that allows visitors a glimpse at a long-gone past and experience living history.