Thorpe Light Railway – History of the line
Opening on Good Friday 1971 the 15″ gauge Whorlton Lido Railway was another attraction to Whorlton Lido, a popular destination for family days out in the North East. Built by professional platelayers for site owner Raymond Dunn the well-engineered 770 yard line has its station on a straight section, with a balloon loop on each end. There is a 33 yard tunnel in the eastern loop.
From the opening Bassett-Lowke 4-4-2 “King George” was used. It first ran on the Fairbourne Railway in Wales in 1915.
Three open carriages were assembled on site from components ordered by Raymond. In 1972 diesel locomotive “Wendy” joined. Raymond had assembled various parts, though construction was completed by a Leicestershire firm. Another carriage was built and assembled on site.
The railway operated between Easter and October, whenever the Lido was open. Not only was this weekends and school holidays but any fine day during the season. Steam was always used on Sundays.
For the last train on a Sunday, plus quieter days “Wendy” was used. During the late 1970s the privately-owned new-build 15″ gauge “Flying Scotsman” replica was used on the line.
In the 1980s two more locomotives were added: a Severn Lamb ‘Rio Grande’ steam-outline diesel and Barnes 4-4-2 “John”.
Details of the locomotives and carriages which have worked on the railway since 1971 are in the Thorpe Light Railway Locomotive booklet available on open days or the SHOP.
The Lido was sold in 1990. The new owners dug out a lake in the eastern loop, which is now a major feature of the railway. The other locomotives had been sold, so that “Wendy” was the sole motive power. The four carriages were rebuilt, two quite extensively.