In August 1946, a year after the end of the second world war, Mr G.A. Dingle, a highly skilled modeller living near Callington, set up a miniature railway in the park and gave rides to the public.  The rolling stock and locomotive had been made by him.  The track was laid directly onto grass with no prepared track bed and appears to have been removed at the end of the season. 

The attraction was repeated the following summer (1947) and drew similarly large crowds; it must have been a great excitement after the dreary war years.  Memories and photos of this early model railway are wanted, particularly to establish whether it opened again in 1948 or subsequently. 

Photo of one of the model engines in Central Park, Western Morning News 19th June 1947 (The Box accession reference 2732/3)

The experience of these two summers after the war might have been the inspiration for other railway modellers.  In 1970, the Plymouth Miniature Steam Society was formed with the aim of providing a track for locomotives that were being built by its founder members at a local night school.  Their aim was realised in 1978 when they entered an agreement with Plymouth City Council and laid a raised, narrower-gauge track on an area of about 0.5 acre behind the bowling pavilion. The agreement was to be renewed annually. 

The Lord Mayor, being given a ride on the newly opened miniature railway, 4th July 1978.

By 1981, there appear to have been disagreements over access and this account comes from the Society’s website: “A site in Plymouth’s Central Park was leased from the City Council and after two years of hard work a raised track for 3½” and 5″ gauge locomotives was completed.  Unfortunately, the full potential of this quarter mile of track was not realised due to access problems. In 1981 the council revised the use of the Park and terminated the lease.”

After the track in Central Park was abandoned, the Society found a new home, Goodwin Park, below Pendeen Crescent near Southway.

The looping course of the former track layout can be seen in aerial photos as late as 1990.