The founders of the World’s Oldest Miniature Railway were a father and son, Frank Clement Schwab, and Alexander Carlisle Schwab.
1920 - Frank Schwab begins construction of a 7¼” gauge railway in the grounds of the family home in Sheffield - the railway is born.
1922 - the first engine, an 0-4-2T, is bought from Messrs. Jupp of Sheffield.
1924 - Frank Schwab retires (early) and the family relocate to the newly built Tanner’s House, Saltwood, Kent. The railway comes too.
1926 - Alex Schwab awarded degree in mechanical engineering from Cambridge University.
1928 - locomotive rebuilt as powerful 4-4-2 “Trojan”.
1929 - “Trojan” rebuilt again.
1931 - first public open day for charity - the one engine and three carriages carried 496 passengers during 4 hours, and others were turned away!
1931 - major carriage building programme commenced to support further charity open days - these continued from then until 1987.
1938 - design commenced on the new locomotive “Maid of Kent”, with Henry Greenly.
1940 - “Maid of Kent” entered service, just as the line shut down for the war.
1942 - locomotive air raid shelter constructed.
1943 - public running recommenced.
1953 - Frank Schwab died.
1970 - Alex Schwab became ill, and operations were suspended.
1974 - “Trojan” sold, and a new electric locomotive “Earl of Berkeley” entered service.
1974 - after Christmas, the line finally reopened.
1975 - “Maid of Kent” sold - the end of the steam era.
1976 - another new electric locomotive “Great Western” entered service.
1977 - the webmaster of this website joined the staff of the railway.
1983 - the webmaster of this website became the final Traffic Manager of the railway.
1987 - Alex Schwab died, and the Saltwood Miniature Railway closed permanently (see below).
2002 - This website was launched in response to requests for information.
The End of an Era
Having run on New Year's Day 1987, the Saltwood Miniature Railway breathed its last. Just a few weeks later its owner and operator, Alex Schwab, died.
During 1987 the locomotives, rolling stock, and eventually also the permanent way, signals, and other fixtures, were all removed from the site. The route of the line could still be walked for a decade after closure, with significant civil engineering still in position, including station platforms, the tunnel, the locomotive inspection pit, the turntable pit (though not the turntable, which went to Norfolk), and the locomotive air raid shelter.
The entire site was subsequently cleared and developed as a housing estate, and nothing physical now remains of the railway. The enthusiast on pilgrimage, wishing to stand at the site of the railway (without trespassing) is advised to walk into Tanners Close, Saltwood, accessed from the main thoroughfare of School Road. The mid-point of this short Close represents, as near as possible, the mid-point of the Saltwood Miniature Railway site.