|Founder Jim Haylock has been interested in railways from a young age, and after a 20 year career in the carpet & upholstery business, he decided the time was right to set up his own railway. In 1980 he found a suitable site in Tucktonia Leisure Park, Christchurch. After 5 years, Jim decided he needed to move the railway to a better location, and heard that the Council was creating a new Country Park at Moors Valley.
Until 1985, Moors Valley was a dairy farm - Kings Farm. The original farm buildings were ideal to use for the main station. Cattle stalls were altered to accommodate a carriage shed, engine shed and shop, and the milking parlour was transformed into the workshop. A skin of brickwork was laid across the front of the buildings in a traditional railway style. A station buffet, ticket office, waiting room and two signal boxes were later added.
The railway opened on 26th July 1986 with single track connection to what later became Lakeside Station and the first loop of the spiral around the childrens play area. The bottom part of the spiral was opened in 1988. The embryonic Lakeside Station was opened in 1989 and eventually the track was doubled in 1995. In the winter of 1995-6, Lakeside platform was rebuilt to include the main line platform so that all trains stop at Lakeside, giving passengers a choice of return or single journeys.
More recently, in 2007, there was an essential extension to the
carriage shed. This was to enable secure storage of our ever expanding rolling stock fleet. This also involved an extra siding, in addition to a station avoiding line and associated signals, for non-passenger working.
Building the track
After digging out the banks, work started on laying the 7¼ inch gauge track. Moors Valley Railway use aluminium rails and wooden sleepers.
The main ride is one mile long, but the total track length
including sidings is about one and a half miles.
Approximately 8000 sleepers, 500 tons of
ballast and 100 tons of road stone
have been used in the construction of the track.
Now a haven for wildlife, the lake appears to be a natural feature, but was in fact created artificially as means of water control. Excavation of the lake was in progress when Jim and his team arrived at Moors Valley. The river was redirected to the west side of the lake. The Moors River is a tributary of the River Stour, which together with the River Avon flows into Christchurch Harbour and they are both well known for extensive flooding in the area caused by the restrictive channel from the harbour to the sea. Following a storm or cloudburst, the quickly rising Moors River is diverted into the lakes where the water level can rise some four feet before being released back to the river further downstream. This provides a time delay for the flood water below this point. This initial river control scheme by Wessex Water provided the original idea for the present park. Spoil from the lakes was used to contour the land for the golf course, which had been a wide open flat space, so these earthworks were now benefitting the park by giving it a more rolling and interesting landscape.