A 1:48 Scale layout by Peter Kazer
The 3' gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (known as Owd Ratty) was built in 1875 in the remote coastal area of Cumberland. It was built to transport iron ore from the workings in the Eskdale valley to the coast, for onward shipment to the iron works in Workington. It was not built to the highest of standards and the quality of its construction received a scathing report from the Board of Trade Inspector, following his formal inspection the following year. Remedial works were carried out and the line reinspected in November 1876, when it was finally allowed to open to passenger traffic. However the line did not prosper, and in 1877 it was placed in chancery.
Boot was the upper terminus for the railway and here it served the Nab Gill mine, as well as the village of Boot. After closure of the mine intensive advertising did manage to raise some tourist traffic, particularly on Bank holidays, and at times all available stock, including wagons, was pressed into service to provide accommodation. The railway managed to struggle on but finally closed in 1913 only to be reincarnated as La'al Ratty in 1915.
The railway had two locomotives, Devon and Nabb Gill, built by Manning Wardle in 1875 and 1896 respectively. They were not fitted with air brakes until 1895 when they lost some of their early Victorian features, and by 1908 Nabb Gill was out of service. Passengers were catered for by two coaches built by the Bristol Wagon Company supplemented by the "Big Saloon" which was built locally, and resembled a "cattle truck". The guards van, with its birdcage, was also built by the Bristol Wagon Company.
The railway originally purchased a limited number, possibly four in total, of two types of wagon from the Bristol Wagon Company for general use (including passengers when demand was high!), and built ore wagons locally.
There are very few photographs of the railway around 1880, and fewer still of Boot, and as a consequence, some assumptions have had to be made in order to complete the model you see here.