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Our History

In the beginning...

Moss Bank Park Railway was founded by Albert Stones. 

Mr Stones was born in 1933 and lived in Great Lever with his parents Jim and Bertha Stones and sister Margaret.

A former pupil of St Simon and St Jude's CE Primary School, he attended The County Grammar School in Great Moor Street before leaving at the age of 14 and got a job with Bolton building firm Wm Townson & Son.

He stayed on at the firm his whole working life, retaining the role of managing director when it was taken over by Shell and later as a consultant until his retirement at the age of 60.

Moss Bank Park Model Engeering Society club house sign
Albert Stones Moss Bank Park Railway Archive

In 1958 he met Elizabeth, who joined the company as a shorthand typist, later declaring it as 'love at first sight'.

He offered to teach her to drive and as the lessons diminished, the romance blossomed, and they eventually married at St George's Road Congregation Church in 1962.

The couple moved into a Townson's house in Bradshaw to raise their four children Margaret, Peter, Andres and Judith.

A life-long passion for railways saw him build a model railway at home before his expertise was called on by the then chairman of Bolton's Leisure Services Department, Cllr Bill Robinson, to help construct passenger hauling small railway in the town.

The club house of the Moss Bank Park Model Engineering Society was established in 1986 and then the Moss Bank Park Model Railway opened to the public for rides in April 1987 and welcomed more than 20,000 passengers every year in its hey-day.

Albert Stones passed away in March 2016 following a long spell of illness. He will be remembered fondly by generations of families in his drivers hat at the head of the model train.

A second wind...

In 2019 Bob Sharples and Alfred Molyneux, once the sidekick to steeplejack Fred Dibnah, asked for people to help out in getting the attraction up and running again.

Impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions it took two and a half years for volunteers to get the railway into a position where it could finally reopen. The clubs members welcomed crowds back to the railway in April 2022.

Moss Bank Park Railway 2022
A cruel blow...
repair work at the miniature railway

Just two months after opening on the 3rd June 2022 thieves struck the railway causing £20,000 worth of damage by ripping the metal track apart and breaking sleepers in order to steel the aluminum metal tracks.

The remaining track was reduced to just 20 feet. When the news broke about the theft there was an amazing out pouring of support through social media and the press. The clubs members were astonished by all the officers of help, donations and kind words.

The group received an insurance payout and collected £1,830 in donations which allowed repair work to begin in July 2022.

Members vowed to yet again reopen the attraction and volunteered numerous hours repairing and installing a temporary track, to put the smiles back on families faces from all over the region. 

In August 2022 the railway reopened with its temporary track and instead of charging the normal fee of £1, donations were requested instead. The response from the people of Bolton and further afield was amazing.

The club members also installed CCTV at the facility.

A phoenix from the ashes...

During the winter of 2022/23 members of the Moss Bank Park Model Engineering Society volunteered their time to install a new welded, steel track, that would restore the track to over half a kilometer in length. The fully restored track opened to the public in April 2023.

Moss Bank Park Miniature Railway volunteer signals the start of new era
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