History of the Tamworth and District Model Engineers

Tamworth’s Miniature Railway is the culmination of many years of hard work by volunteers from across the region plus the strong support of many commercial and community organisations, Tamworth Regional Council and the NSW Government.

Some 20 years ago a small bunch of Tamworth men got together to form a group with interests in model engineering, ranging from clocks to locomotives. In 1996 the group held their first formal meetings and became incorporated in 1997.

A major combined interest became the building of a miniature railway, but a location was a major challenge, with sites sought at Kootingal,  a park in South Tamworth and eventually the newly formed Botanic Gardens precinct.

With the cooperation of former Mayor, Councillor Warren Woodley, the Botanic Gardens site was settled in 2001, providing great views and space to expand. It was a site above an old go-kart track and cricket pitch and adjacent to the former firing range.

The first task was to build a railway station and new tracks. Joblink Plus assisted in the creation of Victoria Park station and the first oval-shaped 280 metre track was completed for operation in April 2005. Since that time an additional outer track was built and a tunnel added. A second tunnel has now been completed, with both tunnels being built from former Fielders metal grain silos which had been located in Sydney and then in Tamworth.

An unloading bay for carriages and locomotives was built, allowing maintenance and a steaming bay for steam engines to be lit and steamed up before running around the tracks.

Tamworth Regional Council assisted with grants toward embankments and earthmoving, with Water Grants toward tanks and pipes to supply water for steam locomotives and general use.

Early fundraising consisted of Club members selling individual railway sleepers, track lengths and points, before the first public running days generated a new income stream to allow for further expansion.

The original group of 10 members has grown to more than forty, but the popularity of the new railway tracks means the Tamworth and District Model Engineers Inc. is seeking new members to help run the club and the popular running days.

Following the recent completion of the 500 metre Oxley Loop the Club now boasts more than a kilometer of track for trains to traverse each public running day on both 5 inch and 7 ¼ inch tracks.

The Oxley Loop boasts spectacular views across East Tamworth and out to the airport some ten kilometres away. It features an 18 metre World War II vintage Bailey Bridge, donated to the club for former Tamworth businessman, the late Keith Singh. The Singh family was invited to cut the ribbon on the bridge following an official opening on June 15th 2013. The second tunnel is also installed on this loop.

Features: Four platform station, two Metal Tunnels, 18 Metre Bailey Bridge, new workshops, signal box, Clubrooms – plus the views!

Tracks: 5” and 7 ¼” plus turntable and electric lift for loading locos and cars

Location: Top end of Piper Street, Tamworth, NSW (past the TAFE and the city water tanks) and over the rise at the Tamworth Botanic Gardens.

Contact: TDME President, David Scott, on 02 6762 2375 or 0409 418 278

Website: www.tdme.org