Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 120 - Beaulieu Light Railway

Plans to establish a narrow gauge steam railway on the Beaulieu Estate were announced this month by Lord Montagu’s son Ralph at the annual Estate Dinner. The project could see Beaulieu’s historic motoring theme extended to one of vintage transport on road and rail, with steam trains transporting visitors around the Estate in a style reminiscent of a now bygone age.

The first step will be to carry out a feasibility study which will include an evaluation of possible routes and how the project might be implemented in stages. Other important parts of the process will involve talking to local residents and the statutory authorities, starting with the New Forest National Park Authority.

“There will inevitably be a range of issues to discuss” said Ralph Montagu, “and I would be the first to admit that the project can only succeed if the environmental benefits of the railway are proved. Sustainability will be the guiding principle in undertaking this project. For example, I expect the railway to play its part in reducing the number of local car journeys, and we hope to fire the locomotives on a renewable fuel, namely wood supplied by the Estate’s Forestry department.”

Turning to the important matter of locomotives to operate the line, Mr Montagu announced an alliance with the Sandstone Heritage Trust in South Africa. This remarkable collection has as many locomotives and vintage agricultural vehicles as Beaulieu has cars, in addition to which there is an extensive narrow gauge railway serving the 12,000 acre Sandstone Estate.

In a programme aimed at exchanging both expertise and exhibits, the Sandstone Heritage Trust has indicated its willingness to loan a range of vintage locomotives to operate the line. “This is a very exciting partnership” explained Mr Montagu, “as the Sandstone collection has some of the oldest working 2 foot gauge engines in the world. This includes a 1899 0-4-0 Decauville and an 1895 4-4-0 Lawley. I drove both these very elegant engines with my wife Ailsa at Sandstone earlier this year and know they would be ideal for operating trains at Beaulieu.”

Like most steam railways in the UK, The Beaulieu Light Railway, as it is to be known, will be dependent on the support of local railway enthusiasts. Mr Montagu said he hoped that anyone with skills or expertise in railway planning, building or operating should make contact with his project team by visiting the website

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