The fun way to reach the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea
Running just under a mile between the town and the beach, Wells Harbour Railway is a Guinness World Record holding 10¼” gauge miniature railway that’s been serving visitors to Wells beach since 1976. It’s convenient and great fun for kids, with trains departing every 20 minutes, 7 days a week throughout the summer.
Originally built in 1976, Wells Harbour Railway is a 10¼” gauge miniature railway service connecting Wells Town to Wells Beach, approximately 1 mile away. The railway has two stations, Harbour Station located next to the recreation field, and Pinewoods Station, situated within the grounds of Pinewoods Holiday Park.
The journey between stations takes approximately 5 minutes, with the wildflower-covered bank of the beach mile walk on one side and a vista of grazing marshes and fields on the other.
There’s no ticketing system – passengers pay the £1.50 fare (cash only) to the ticket inspector/guard once seated on the train. Due to the limited space available it’s not possible to take bicycles, however folded pushchairs can be accommodated.
Dogs can travel on the train provided they’re well behaved and kept under close control. Smoking is not permitted, and children may not travel unaccompanied.
There are three engines that pull the carriages between stations: Densil, Howard and The Duke. Children love travelling on the railway and soon become familiar with the engines, excitedly announcing the train’s imminent arrival at the station the moment it comes into view.
The service operates from March until October, running 7 days a week weather permitting. The first departure of the day is at 10:30am from Pinewoods Station, with Harbour Station’s first departure 10 minutes later. Trains then run from each station at 20 minute intervals until the last train leaves from Harbour Station at the end of the day.
Last train times vary depending on the time of year – in peak holiday season, the last train is at 6:10pm, but it can be as early as 3:20pm during the quietest periods. Timetables are posted on the main station signs at both stations, so it’s easy to check before you depart for the beach.
Wells Harbour Railway is one of the must-do experiences for children of all ages when visiting Wells-next-the-Sea, and remains an essential feature of the Wells experience.
Wells Harbour Railway has two stations, Harbour Station and Pinewoods Station.
Located next to the recreation field, Harbour Station is close to the busy quay and town centre. There’s a large children’s playground and a public toilet block a few steps away.
The new Wells Town Car Park on Freeman Street can be accessed by a path that runs along side the southern edge of the recreation field. If Beach Car Park is full, you can park in the Wells Town Car Park and take the train to the beach.
See the Visiting By Car page for more information on parking and charges in Wells.
Harbour Station is next to Beach Road – on the other side of the road is the town end of the Beach Mile Walk, the Harbour Office and the Quay. Take care crossing the road as there are blind corners in both directions and it can be very busy during summer.
Located within the grounds of the Pinewoods Holiday Park, Pinewoods Station can be reached via a walkway that crosses Beach Road and leads up a ramp to the top of the Beach Mile bank. It’s a further 450m walk to the end of the bank and the main beach entrance.
Take particular care crossing Beach Road as it can be very busy during summer.
Whether you park at the Beach Car Park, or one of the two car parks in Wells town, the circular route along the beach mile walk in one direction and back by the miniature railway, makes a delightful round trip that features wonderful views and is sure to keep children entertained.
See the Visiting By Car page for more information on parking in Wells.
Wells Harbour Railway operates three engines, Densil, Howard and The Duke. All three were built by Alan Keef Ltd.
Densil is a bright red 0-6-0 steam outline diesel locomotive powered by a Perkins three cylinder Diesel engine. He was delivered to the railway in 1998.
He is serviced annually with any additional work carried out as required.
Over winter 2018 he had a refurbishment of his running gear and a complete respray.
Howard is a navy blue 0-6-0 steam outline diesel locomotive powered by a Perkins three cylinder Diesel engine. He was delivered to the railway in 2005 to ease the workload of Densil.
He is serviced annually.
The Duke is a purple and yellow 0-6-0 diesel locomotive powered by an updated version of the Perkins three cylinder Diesel engine found in Densil and Howard.
He was delivered to the railway in 2014.
He was designed by Alan Keef Ltd in conjunction with the current owners. The brief was a Diesel engine with a modern look design and with striking paint work.
He is also serviced annually.
The carriages have been in service since 1998, with a refurbishment taking place a couple of years ago. Their bogies (wheels) are removed over the winter for maintenance.
The railway was established in 1976 by Commander Roy Francis using the original steam engine Edmund Hannay. After part of the track was damaged by sea surges in early 1978, the track was relaid and the railway reopened in July of that year.
In 1980 commander Francis sold the railway and moved on to establish the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. Also in this year Weasel, a new engine, was introduced.
Wells Harbour Railway was sold again around 1989 and continued to operate with the two engines Edmund and Weasel, these together with the original carriages continued in service until 1998 although the carriage bogies (wheels) were replaced with new ones incorporating air brakes.
In 1998 Densil and new carriages were delivered – all built by Alan Keef Ltd.
The current owners took over the railway in 2001 and continued with improvements to both the stations and track.
Edmund Hannay was built in 1972 by Norfolk engineer David King. A 0-4-2 coal fired steam locomotive, he was originally built to travel to steam fairs. He was the original engine on the Wells Harbour Railway when it opened.
Weasel was built in 1980 again by David King, a 0-4-0 locomotive powered by an Alfa Romeo petrol engine with a manual gear box.
The original carriages ran from the railway opening in 1976 until the end of the summer 1997. They were wooden bodies on steel underframes originally with unbraked bogies (wheels). The bogies were replaced with ones incorporating brakes to meet updated legislation.
Wells Harbour Railway holds the Guinness World Record – jointly with the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway – of the narrowest gauge on which a public railway service is operated, at 260mm (10.25 inches.)
Tickets cost £1.50 per person, each way
Cash only, no cards
First train from Pinewoods Station: 10:30 am
First train from Harbour Station: 10:50 am
Trains depart every 20 minutes until the last train time as indicated on a notice at the station.