Posted by: travelrat | July 2, 2007

Exbury Garden Railway


Exbury, Hampshire. 7th April 2007

Shortly after we got back from Venice, my Dad came down to visit. He’s 93 years old, and doesn’t get around too well, so we took him to see the Exbury Gardens, in the New Forest. These beautiful gardens, laid out by Lionel de Rothschild in the 1920s and 30s, are extensive, but there’s no need to walk around them.

You can travel around it in a buggy … or, since 2001, by means of the Exbury Garden Railway.

Unlike most narrow-gauge steam railways, this isn’t a restored industrial railway. Everything is new, and was built from scratch by the Exmoor Railway Company. And, it’s probably the first railway ever to employ gardeners, as well as engineers in its construction.

The railway was designed to run mainly along the paths of the garden, causing as little disruption as possible. Part of it runs along a formerly derelict part of the garden, which has now been cleared and landscaped. There’s a cut and cover tunnel and a viaduct to be negotiated, too.

There are two steam engines and a diesel, and a delightful little station whose roof is supported by iron castings bearing the five arrows of the Rothschild arms; a motif repeated on the engines themselves.

The whole thing is the brainchild of Leopold de Rothschild, who dreamed of a railway in the garden ever since the contractors used a temporary narrow-gauge railway to build the Rock Garden, which the train passes, in the 1930s.

In fact, ‘Mr. Leo’, as he’s affectionately called, can sometimes be seen around his railway in overalls and ‘greasetop’ cap … and frequently drives the train!

You can see more photographs of the Exbury Garden Railway at To learn more about the railway and the gardens, visit

If you want to read more about the Exbury Railway, and see more pictures, please read my article at

PS. Sadly, ‘Mr Leo’ passed away in May 2012. But, the railway still runs, as parhaps, a fitting memorial to him. 


  1. […] visits Exbury Garden Railway posted at Travelrat’s […]

  2. […] I’m not going to give a history of the EGR here; I blogged about it last year at  and there’s a link there to an article I wrote for Just Say Go about it. But, to put things […]

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