Everyone loves a miniature railway; it is something the whole family can enjoy. There was a time when all seaside resorts could boast about having a miniature railway running along its sea front and Skegness was no exception. From my research there have been at least 2 and possibly 3 miniature railways running in Skegness. The first of these ran from a station situated near the famous Figure of eight early wooden roller coaster that was opened in 1909. The miniature railway opened in 1923 and for at least part of its journey ran on the beach and suffered from derailments due to build ups of sand. The was a railway in the early 50-60s because records show of a very fine engine that just have been built(see picture above) spent a year on the tracks, at the time it was unnamed but now goes under the name of "Waverley" and spent considerable time at the Ferry Meadows miniature railway in Peterborough after leaving Skegness. Another fine engine to be seen in Skegness at this time was the 4-6-4 built in 1949 called ‘Commodore Vanderbilt’ which started its life at the Orme hotel in Wales and was once owned by the boxer Randolph Turpin. It then moved to Skegness where it was very popular especially with adults who loved to ride behind it. It also later moved on to Ferry Meadows. The track ran from the north end of the boating lake (where there was a ticket office) along the length of the boating lake right to the far end.
In 1973 tracks were laid on the old track bed and the third miniature railway opened. In 1979 this was taken over by new owners and ran till 1993. I found one account on the internet of someone who can remember this miniature railway from frequent visits to Skegness in the 1980s. He recalls there were four engines used on the track, the Engine known as Big ‘Un. This engine was, at the time, used through the week. Only one loco running, with a one man operation. I.e. driver and fair collector. Two other engines were Fisherman and I think Sea Breeze. These two engines were very similar in appearance. I do remember that there were slight differences. Skegness was so much busier on weekends that the railway was more fully staffed and two engines ran the line. The large passing loop and a token system were used. Stations were manned with ticket collectors. I remember that the car park end at Tower Esplanade had a ticket office and gate at the end of the platform. The other engine was referred to as Little ‘Un. This was a tiny battery engine. It pulled a truck on which sat the driver and one passenger. There was a sign at the Princes Parade (Fairy Dell) end of the line saying children could drive the train. My father enquired for me and I remember distinctly returning to the line after services had finished and being allowed to drive Little ‘Un the length of the line and back (I can’t remember how much it cost). The owner sat behind me instructing me as we went. Another person recalls a two deck tram that ran on the tracks, the top deck was just for show and not used by passengers.
Sadly there is no Miniature Railway in Skegness at the moment but there are two very worth a visit just a few miles outside of Skegness.
In model engineering terms Evergreens in Stickney near Boston is a very young club. Started in 2002 it has grown rapidly though and now boasts a large 7¼" 'looped eight' railway and a raised 5" track located inside the main loop of the 7¼" circuit.
Another Fine layout can be found just outside of Mablethorpe. The Mablethorpe Miniature Railway (formally known as Queens Park MR) first opened in 1968 as a 10 ¼ inch gauge railway but was regauged to the present gauge in 1970. The railway is basically a simple circuit in the public park behind the sea wall, running through the tunnel/shed as it goes. A train ride consists of two circuits round the track. There are two petrol engines currently based here.
There are two Light or Narrow Gauge railways that are well worth a visit. The Skegness Light Railway is situated in the Water Leisure Caravan Park close to Butlins. It is open every Sunday during the main six week holidays and on Summer Bank Holidays. The other light railway is the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, east coasts premier 15inch gauge steam railway. Operating trains along a 2 mile coastal track, overlooking the Humber Estuary. Our 3 stations house something of interest for everyone from the station master’s gift shop to our bistro, tearooms and pub. http://www.cleethorpescoastlightrailway.co.uk/
I personally hope that at a future time a miniature railway will return to Skegness. Once the proposed Zonel areas along the Foreshore get established maybe a miniature railway can be introduced as a means of linking the Sporting, Fun and culture zones, this could be achieved by using the waterway canals that have been struggling to establish themselves as of late. If you search other coastal tourist towns you will find many high quality miniature railways and it does seem a real shame that Skegness is lacking in that department.