Stapleford Park and Miniature Railway: September 1974

In 1974, Stapleford Hall near Melton Mowbray was home to the 2nd Lord Gretton and his family. The park was at its peak as a tourist attraction, with the grounds containing a lion reserve, miniature railway and two scale model cruise liners.

The Derbyshire Caravan Club centre held a rally there that September. I’ve recently digitised a short sequence of cine film that shows the railway and ships in operation during that weekend.

White Heron LocomotiveThe White Heron arriving into the station, delivering its passengers to the model cruise liners.

LighthouseThe lake had a working lighthouse.

Northern StarThe Northern Star setting sail for a cruise of the lake.

Victoria LocomotiveThis would appear to be ‘Victoria’, a model of a LMS Jubilee class locomotive. However, the FSMR website suggests that it didn’t enter service at Stapleford Park until 1975 … and this film was definitely shot in September 1974. Commissioning tests, perhaps?

Automatic barrierThe train-operated automatic level crossing.

Stapleford Park Plaque - September 1974The caravan club plaque recording the event.

The complete cine film sequence.

Today, the hall is a hotel, the lion reserve is long gone and the scale model cruise liners are no more. However, the miniature railway is miraculously intact and is open to the public twice a year. In 2017 these events are scheduled for 10th & 11th June and the long bank holiday weekend at the end of August.

Childhood memories – Caravan Club rally plaques

Caravan Club Rally Plaques 1968 - 1976Recently rediscovered at my parent’s house. Finding these plaques brought back memories of listening to Friday Night is Music Night on a battery-powered radio and endless card games. I also remember with some fondness the (sometimes rather strange) competitions the rally organisers ran over these weekends, dodging cow-pats and thistles in the fields where the caravans congregated and the faintly sinister “round the flag” gathering on a Sunday afternoon before everyone hitched up their ‘vans and headed for home.

Update: 8th October 2013

The Caravan Club is still around and has recently refreshed its website, which is definitely worth exploring. It’s also good to see that the Derbyshire Centre is still going strong.