Way back in 2012, Nick and I took the children one summer’s day to a village fun day. The highlight of the day was a wonderful range of miniature steam and electric trains. We happily queued with the children while they took their turn. Coming home from a simple yet delightful day we thought how much fun it would be to offer train rides at Coombe Mill.
Humble Beginnings at Coombe Mill
Winter is our quiet period; in the depths of January while the cottages were empty we hired our trusted local man with a JCB and dug a huge trench around the front lawn. It was far from ideal conditions, being one of the wettest winters on record with flooding affecting the ground from December and by the time the digger had finished and filled the trench with hard core ready for the track I was beginning to wonder what we had done, it was far from a beautiful lawn with a pretty railway running through!
Laying the Track
We had started now we would finish, our vision was still clear, if looking a long way from complete. Nick had bought the train and track from Maxi Trak in Kent and had it delivered to his big shed ready. The track was built piece by piece by Nick with help from the children and hand bent exactly to meet the curves of the foundations we had created. Corrugated Pig shelter sections formed the tunnel come shed. All was assembled in the bog that was our lovely lawn.
Thanks go to my Facebook page followers were a great help advising on traditional for the style of the Coombe Mill Railway and for voting to decide the animal species for the carriages from those at Coombe Mill. This made it really easy for me to brief the sign writer who worked tirelessly through the winter days in Nick’s shed painting the train and carriages.
The promise of Spring Train Rides
By early spring the track was down and our guests arriving in numbers to enjoy the magic of the farm with newborn animals and the hope of a train ride. However just like British Rail we had trouble on the line! Weeks melted into months as Nick tinkered on the track tirelessly trying to reduce the movement and keep the train from derailing. He commissioned more and more bespoke tools to try and bed down the track, managing the noise of the drilling with times when the guests were out for the day. Frustratingly as fast as one corner was cured another became a problem. More and more testing followed from the children. It felt like a project so near yet so far.
A Light bulb moment
It took an engineer from Denmark holidaying with us to suggest we tried candle wax on the rails! It sounded such an unlikely solution, but we were prepared to try anything. A good polish of the wheels and the track and the liberal application of candle wax turned out to be the advice we needed. Finally we were giving clear rounds and confident enough to invite the guests to join us for afternoon rides.
Up and Running At Last
The train now
Just yesterday the train doors went on the engine shed to protect our lovely train from the elements and for the first time we ran both the carriages to the delight of all our waiting guests.
Things to Come
I think this is going to be a labour of love. Nick has his head full of ideas for level crossings and signal boxes while I am imagining themed rides like a haunted house for Halloween and a Santa’s Grotto for Christmas in the engine shed.
I hope we can pull it all off and I’ll be sure to blog the success and failures along the way!
Please think of us for your next holiday. With tractor rides to feed the animals in the morning and train rides in the afternoon it is a perfect family holiday base not to mention river play, fishing lakes and play areas galore all in a beautiful sheltered 30 acres in the heart of Cornwall.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
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