Sunday, 19 April 2015

Surrey Border and Camberley Railway

When I first started to take an interest in railways I quickly found that, even in pre-internet days - there was loads of information available, certainly on railways in Britain.

A few lines were a little more difficult to find information on. That hydro-electric line up in Scotland, the Rye and Camber, some of the Welsh NG lines. 

The SBCR was in a different league! I'd heard about it of course, there were even rumours that an ex-SBCR loco was running on the miniature railway less than a mile from my house. But real hard info was scarce. Had it really only been open for a year? Did it really have stations with overall roofs, double track and enormous debts? Did the war close it? Was there anything left (in 1970)?

Forty five years on and info is STILL hard to find on this line. There is a book, which I must try to get, and I suspect everything I want to know is in there. But a comprehensive Google search has ONLY got me this far -

'This interesting passenger carrying 10.25 inch gauge line.....recently changed its name to the Surrey Border &Camberley Railway. It will be recalled that the Farnborough Miniature Railway was built in some fields close by the road between Frimley and Farnborough. In the spring of the present year it sold the whole of its assets to a new limited liability company called the Surrey Border & Camberley Railway Limited, which was incorporated on January 22 last with an authorised capital of £15,000. The staff and management remain unchanged, however, and preserve the atmosphere and spirit of the original venture. A new line has now been built and extends about two miles from Frimley (on the London-Aldershot road) to Camberley, with stations named Farnborough Green, Cove Wood, Watchetts Wood, and Camberley (York Town). This line, which is of double track for the one mile between Farnborough Green and Cove Wood, was formally opened on July 23'

The SB&CR, to which the FMR gave birth, was a truly massive enterprise for a 10.25" gauge railway, which would not be repeated until the latter part of the 20th Century (with the Wells & Walsingham LR). It was a microcosm of a full scale public passenger railway. It ran a distance of more than two miles; was double track in part; was fully signalled; usually had more than one engine in steam; operated to a year round timetable; ran into monumental debt; ended up operating on a shoestring; closed on the outbreak of war; did not re-open afterwards; had a life of little more than a year; and is still spoken of today, in miniature railway circles, in tones of reverence and awe!'

I did have a wonderful stroke of luck when messing about on eBay. Somebody was selling a range of postcards, and that's what is illustrating this article! So a little more info is falling into place - any more info will be very welcome!


  1. The book tells all you would ever want to know really. It is probably available through your local library, and occasionally turns up on second hand book sales at events.

  2. There are also various films on Pathe I seem to remember.

  3. There is some colour cine film somewhere on line - I can't remember if it was on Pathe or BFI site

  4. Here is a bw film

  5. And in colour from the BFI