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History of the Poppleton Community
Railway Nursery

The Poppleton Community Railway Nursery (PCRN) has a narrow gauge railway running through the site. It was constructed from 1985 onwards to move compost and plants around the constricted site.

The railway was instigated by the young nursery manager, Graham Warner, who had an interest in narrow gauge railways. He was aided by the fact that 2ft gauge equipment was being disposed of from other railway sites which Graham managed to get sent to Poppleton at no cost. The initial wagons and track came from the signalling works in Leeman Road in York and others from as far afield as Chesterton Junction near Cambridge. Manpower to build the railway was provided mainly by Youth Training Scheme people who had some spare capacity from other nursery jobs during the winter. The nursery had a good relationship with the Training School at York Carriage Works who, over a period of time, overhauled and rebuilt some wagons plus the wagon turntable and, eventually, a locomotive.

The line was gradually extended with sidings and an engine shed and reached some way down the mainline railway towards the A59 road bridge over the York-Harrogate railway line. In 1988 a decision was taken to hold an open weekend as part of the InterCity sponsored York Festival. On 2 July Geoffrey Smith from Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate (who was a BBC Gardeners’ World presenter) formally opened the railway. A working locomotive from the Ripon and District Railway became the first to run on the line, followed by a locomotive and coach from The North Ings Farm Railway near Lincoln. Graham Warner had also purchased a locomotive from Alne Brickworks, which was also present, and this was later restored at the Carriage Works to become the main locomotive at the nursery. 

Over the next fifteen years several other locomotives visited including a six year loan of the former Naburn Sewage Works locomotive belonging to the National Railway Museum. Many wagons also were acquired. However, by 2005 it became clear that the nursery’s days were numbered so most of the stock was given to the Apedale Railway, now at Stoke on Trent, and this together with a lot of lifted track departed on 15 May 2005. The final departure was on 15 March 2006 when Graham Warner’s locomotive departed to its new owner at Castleton.

When PCRN took over in 2009 only three wagons remained which were all in very poor condition. These have since been renovated and other wagons acquired. The nursery was given a motorised wagon, built by Terry Stanhope, and a volunteer purchased a suitable locomotive from the Abbey Railway at Leeds when it closed. The track has been added to by laying a balloon loop, part of it alongside the York-Harrogate railway line, with rail purchased from Ripon. The nursery was able to take the former passenger shelter from the Poppleton station platform when it was replaced and use it to make a wagon shed. The nursery has also been fortunate to host a number of visiting locomotives over the years. However, there is still plenty more to be done!

Please see the detailed lists of locomotives and stock for more details.

A model railway has been built by two volunteers to give the flavour of the Poppleton Nursery. Certain areas on the model will be recognisable to those who know the nursery, or have seen photographs, but the stock is just the items the builders have available. The layout has been exhibited at several Narrow Gauge North model railway shows and was also exhibited at the 2018 National Garden Railway Show in Peterborough. It is generally on display at the all-day plant sales.

Company Registered Number: 06211163 Registered Charity Number: 1148341
© Poppleton Community Railway Nursery.