It all started 45 years ago, when Drummond Randall took his three-and-a-half-year-old son for a day out on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, on the South coast.
"I remember very clearly what happened when we got home," recalls Drummond. "My son turned to me and said, ‘Dad, are you going to build me a locomotive?’" The answer was yes. And while most fathers might have made do with buying their son a little electric train set and putting it in the loft, Drummond went one further and constructed an entire, working miniature railway, around the garden of the family home in Kent.
There’s a little station at which passengers can get on, an engine shed where the trains sleep overnight, and, rather than just chuffing around in a boring circle, the locomotives wind their way through holes in hedges, into long, dark tunnels, around the edges of attractive flower beds and across dramatic bridges that span ponds.
Plus, on each circuit of the garden, the train passes just a couple of feet in front of the spectacular half-timbered, 17th-century home in which the Randalls live. Step out with a cup of tea, and if you didn’t look where you were going you could find yourself being struck at kneecap level (it’s a miniature railway, remember) by one of Drummond’s immaculately polished trains. Maybe the gleamingly caramel-coloured locomotive Crowborough, or perhaps its elegant, powder-blue cousin Dunalistair. Or conceivably Toby the shunting diesel, powered by silent electricity, rather than roaring coal fires and wheezing steam.
In all there are seven trains running on Drummond’s network, which he still lovingly maintains, although his son left home some time ago. So is he fulfilling one of his own boyhood fantasies? "No question about it," he says with a laugh. "When I was a teenager, I built my own small version of this railway in my back garden. But my mother wasn’t very keen on it, and when I got called up to do National Service, she pulled all the track up."
Article from The Telegraph written by By Christopher Middleton – 21 Jan 2015
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