- The Steam Railway -

The steam railway was a popular feature at Belle Vue and operated for 53 years in a variety of forms and locations.

The "Railway Queen" prior to its first run on the miniature railway on May 30, 1928.



The image above was generously donated by Brian Begg Robertson


In my day it ran along the avenue from the vicinity of the Longsight Entrance into the heart of the park, close to the Kings Hall. The Parkside Station, near the Kings Hall, is shown opposite.

There were two locomotives: the Railway Queen and King George V.

 
In the 1950s the railway was relocated and ran behind the Firework Lake and continued along the shores of the Great Lake, between it and the Kirkmanshulme Lane wall to the Lake Entrance. (The pictures opposite and below show the train travelling beside the Great Lake)



In an attempt to move with the times and cater to changing tastes, the railway went through another metamorphosis in the 60s and appendages were added to the locomotives to give them the appearance of the American iron horses that plied the wild-west with barrel shaped smoke stacks and cow-catchers on the front. It was renamed the "Santa Fe railway and it ran around the Firework Lake giving passengers a view of the animals in the Wolf Wood, Lion and Tiger Enclosure and Marsupial Enclosures.

The Santa Fe Railway didn't last for very long. The decline of the park was already well advanced and the railway, along with other features, was losing its appeal. In 1971, it reverted back to the Belle Vue Steam Railway. During the 70s there was rarely enough demand to warrant running more than one train.


Ironically, it was during the 70s when a third locomotive, "Joan", was added to the railway. The engine had become surplus to requirements in Rhyl at a facility which was part of the Forte Empire.

After the railway closed in 1977, one of the locomotives was presented to the Eskdale Trust and renamed "Synolda". It became a feature at the railway museum at Ravenglass and occasionally works the Ravenglass-Eskdale Railway.

In April of 2001, Glen Fairweather sent me some information on the Belle Vue locomotives:

George the Fifth - built in 1911. Started work at Belle Vue in 1938. Previously ran at the Kursaal Amusement Park in Southend. On leaving Belle Vue it was restored back to running order and went to operate at Steamtown Railway Museum in Carnforth, Lancashire. It ran there until last year when it was sold to a buyer in the USA.

Synolda - built in 1912. Started work at Belle Vue in 1939. Also ran at the Kursaal Amusement Park before coming to Belle Vue. It was called Prince Charles during its years at Belle Vue, and according to one of its drivers it was still working there in 1965.  Now kept on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway in Cumbria and kept in fully restored condition (see below).

This image of Synolda is shown with the permission of Glen Fairweather

Joan - built 1920. Worked at Belle Vue between 1970 and 1977. Spent the previous 50 years running on the Marine Lake Railway at Rhyl. Upon leaving Belle Vue it went back to Rhyl again. It can be still be seen running there today, still happily pulling holidaymakers around the Marine Lake track.

Railway Queen - built in 1921. Worked at Belle Vue between 1928 and 1977. It then went to the railway at Rhyl for 10 years before going on static display at James Pringle Weavers at Llanfair PG, Anglesey, North Wales. It can still be seen there today.

image taken in 1974 by Matt Pearce Bolton

and generously donated by him on behalf of CHEZRASCALS MEDIA

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