The Spinney Light Railway

The Start of the Railway

Joseph Ballantyne-Dykes driving into Dingly

The railway was started 1n 1974 by Joseph Ballantine Dykes, who then owned the house. Tradition has it that the reception after his daughter's wedding was held in the garden and during an interval in the proceedings Joseph and a friend pegged out a first outline of the trackbed. Joseph was a civil engineer by training and those skills were to the fore in the construction on a relatively hilly site.

Joseph is pictured right, driving into a simpler, early Dingly. (The loco still visits; it is now owned by Mike Hack, one of the team).

Actual construction was by the firm Cromar White, supervised by one of the firm's directors, Roland White who became one of the original railway team. The most spectacular event during construction was the fall of a dumper truck into the 13 foot deep cutting being dug for the 'cut and cover' tunnel portion.

As built the railway had the current layout from Dingly through Bay Tree and then the circle through Spinney and the tunnels. There was no branch to Old Oak and Spinney had no loop platform. A single line joined Bay Tree and Dingly.

This link to a Diagram in a magazine article by JBD shows the otiginal layout.
(Link to Article)

End of the day

When Joseph died in 1993 his wife Mary, together with her friend Joy, kept the railway going but when Mary died in 1999 there was a real danger that the railway would close altogether. Prospective buyers of the house did not always see a railway in the garden as an asset! That the railway still exists today owes much to Hugh Ballantine Dykes who held out for a purchaser who was willing to keep the railway.

In 2000 Alan Ainslie, his wife June and family Katherine, Amanda, Louise and Andrew bought the house, took on the railway and instituted "The Friends of the Spinney Light Railway" as the team who run and maintain it. Since then the railway has entered a period of further development, with more sophisticated signalling, relaying, regrading and realigning of the main line and a new longer bridge over the widened road to the bottom garden.

The current team of about 20 "Friends" continue to be grateful to Alan and his family for turning their house and garden into a railway on every other Saturday in the year. Thanks to the Ainslies the Railway is going from strength to strength.