Thursday, 16 July 2015

Gilling East

Just off the main road between York and Helmsley is one of the most delightful miniature railways you hope to stumble across.

In the grounds of the village hall at Gilling East is a 7¼" and 5" gauge railway - it's not he longest you'll see by any means, but it probably the smallest main line railway you could visit. A double track mainline runs round the edge of the grounds and features two marshalling yards, a decent sized passenger station, a four road engine shed and two signal boxes which supervise the fully signalled railway and work the signals and points by miniature McKenzie & Holland lever frames.

The yards can be seen, complete with the scale stock stabled in the nearer of the two - this is probably what the Gilling railway is best known for among railway enthusiast.

The railway is perhaps best known for its mainline galas when no human sized passengers are carried and the railway is taken over by scale 5" inch gauge stock. And this scale sized rolling stock is very accurate and each one is worth considering in its own right as a model but the sight of a whole gathering of them is incredibly impressive. However, our visit was a summer Sunday when people form the main traffic.

The setting gives the railway a lovely feel - very family friendly with room for picnics and climbing frames for children to use any excess energy!

Sometimes places which encourage families aren't necessarily the sort of places many people want to go though! But the atmosphere is so nice and laid back with people free to move around as they please (with people respecting the railway and not 'trespassing') with the Society's clubhouse providing refreshments and toilets, complete with baby changing facilities, all great stuff and beyond what you might expect for a society of model engineers! This does seem quite in keeping with the whole place.

The society members I spoke to were very friendly and very keen to engage in conversation with their visitors. This isn't a customer service type spiel but is very genuine and makes you feel very welcome. It would be all too easy to make visitors feel like they were getting in the way of the members playing trains (some standard gauge heritage railways are guilty of this!) but nothing of the sort. It makes us want to return - we can sit and enjoy a picnic while watching the trains go by and also have a few rides too!

Gilling East Village Hall

From my own personal point of view, the way the railway can be operated is great! It works with a type of Track Circuit Block with automatic sections on part of the line. Two signal boxes control movements on the railway - one controls the station and engine shed access while the other looks after access to the two yards. Communication between the two boxes is by bell. The care and attention which the signalling has clearly had is very impressive. The signals, too, are to a very high standard - all are North Eastern Railway slotted post pattern - they're probably in better condition than some of my signals! When we drove up I think it was a lovely bracket signal which gave Thomas an idea of what sort of place we were going to visit!

The perfectly scaled down McKenzie & Holland lever frames which feature in both of the boxes - click here for a view of Gilberdyke SB's M&H frame to see how good the miniature version is!

It's just a lovely place where you're made to feel very welcome indeed.

Well worth a visit!

Further Reading

Ryedale Society of Model Engineers
The Ground Level 5 Inch Gauge Main Line Association


  1. It looks a delight and in a very beautiful setting. There's obviously a good feeling among the people who run the place and the models must be the fruit of a great deal of hard, dedicated unpaid work. There's something rather magical and Emmett-like (in a good way) about that last pic, I would love to go there.

    1. If you are ever in Yorkshire, I would try and go! Not far from either the National Railway Museum or the NYMR either. The mainline galas are impressive -

      The whole manner the members have is something many companies whould love their staff to have but this was entirely natural and genuine. A delightful place :-)

  2. Now that is what I call a miniature railway, I've never seen anything like it and never even knew it existed!

    Thanks for telling us all about it James and for posting such lovely photos.

    1. It's stunning work, isn't it?! In some ways, the railway is one of the best kept secrets in the hobby!

      If I ever came into some serious money, my garden railway would be like this!