Kerr’s Miniature Railway Signals an End this WeekendNeil Hardie
The final steam whistle will sound on Arbroath’s seafront miniature railway this weekend following 10 decades in the dedicated hands of one family.
And the pandemic has dealt a final blow to plans to give the attraction the “send off its deserves”.
Kerr’s Miniature Railway has been a fixture in the seaside town since Matthew Kerr Snr took passengers on their first run along the West Links line in 1935.
Tens of thousands of summer visitors travelled on the small gauge track in its heyday as full-size counterparts thundered along the adjacent east coast main line, blasting their horns in appreciation of the miniature engines below.
However, dwindling numbers led current owner John Kerr, whose father Matthew Jnr ran it before him, to take the painful decision to close the railway after 85 years and three generations.
here were hopes the swansong summer would have seen big numbers make a final journey, but the pandemic wrecked those prospects and Mr Kerr is now preparing for the emotional final weekend.
“We are extending the hours on Saturday from 9am to 6pm to give people the chance to come earlier or later in the day because we expect it to be quite busy,” said Mr Kerr.
“There are four visiting engines coming up for the weekend, two of which were previously at the railway and two which have never been here before.”
He had been fearful of what this week’s stricter coronavirus restrictions could mean for the grand finale.
“Unfortunately we already know the situation has already put off many of those who were planning to attend,” added John.
“The more elderly, and sadly those who have most of the memories of the railway throughout its time, are worried about coming and we know many have decided not to make the journey from down south.
“Although the decision had pretty much been taken on the future of the railway coming into 2020, this year has been the most trying of them all and coronavirus has just thrown every additional challenge at us.
Since the closure announcement, numbers visiting the attraction for a final farewell have rocketed.
“It is ironic, but the number of people we have had over the last couple of months has been remarkable,” added John.
“I think a lot of folk are still struggling to come to terms with the idea of the railway closing, but unfortunately it was the decision I had to make.
“We are exploring the future and there have been people contacting me about the railway.
“What I’m looking for in the future is someone who understand the history of the railway and the connection to Arbroath. Selling off engines or moving it somewhere else wouldn’t be Kerr’s miniature railway.”