"£1 For A Return Fare Since 2003": Brockwell Park's Miniature Railway

Last Updated 05 April 2024

"£1 For A Return Fare Since 2003": Brockwell Park's Miniature Railway
A man driving a small steam train, pulling carriages of people behind them
John Roberts has been driving the miniature trains for over 20 years.

Britain's train operators might take a leaf out of Brockwell Miniature Railway's book.

In over 20 years, the price of a return fare here has been frozen at just £1. So far, there hasn't been a single strike, either. That said, the staff don't always show: "I have four drivers, but nine times out of 10, only two of them turn up!" John Roberts laughs.

A man and children riding in a carriage
The railway runs on Sundays from March till October.

Roberts has overseen the miniature railway since it opened in 2003. (Another miniature railway actually ran the same route along the park's north-east edge from the early 1950s to the 1960s.) A retired coach driver, Roberts has always had an eye for trains. "Once I got wind there was a miniature railway going in in Brockwell Park, I was over here! Give me something to do at weekends."

A man riding a mini train
There's a hope that a short extension will be built through the woods in the next couple of years.

That was in 2003; since then, the railway has become an integral park of Brockwell Park, its pint-sized locos shunting young families back and forth between the little platform by Herne Hill Gate, and the famous art deco lido. The 7¼-inch gauge railway operates on Sundays from March through to October; in the past, a number of different engines have run on the line, although right now, there's just the one — a sized-down Great Eastern Railway Y6, which looks a bit like a shed on wheels.

In 2024, the railway finds itself at a juncture. Still recovering from the fallout from Covid — and with increasing insurance and maintenance costs — it's important, Roberts explains to me, that 2024 is a good year for business.

A miniature railway being ridden
The line could start running again on Saturdays.

On the other hand, there are some interesting developments in the pipeline — including a new loco on order, and plans to construct a 'teardrop' loop extension which takes a brief detour through the woods (this, we reckon, would be particularly good for the Halloween special that runs in October).

Roberts is also keen to get the miniature railway running again on Saturdays — something it hasn't done for around 10 years.

Oh, and one thing that parents of young children might want to know: the railway is available to hire for birthday parties. Just saying.

Brockwell Miniature Railway, open March-October (except when the weather is particularly wet). £1 for a return ride, under 2s travel free when accompanied by an adult. Cash only.

All images © Brockwell Park Miniature Railway