A fundraiser has launched to help Watford Miniature Railway get back on track after equipment worth “tens of thousands” of pounds were damaged in a flood.

Near the start of October, the popular attraction at Cassiobury Park was submerged in water over the course of October 3 and October 4, due to heavy rain during Storm Alex.

It had damaged things like the track itself, locomotives, rolling stock and other equipment at the site.

Watford Observer:

The flood continued over the weekend of Storm Alex

At the time, owner Charles O’Mahoney said he was “optimistic” that most items could be recovered, but feared that most items would require extensive and financially straining work to get things up and running again.

The miniature railway had already lost about 50 per cent of its normal earnings due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but the service was quite popular over the summer after it reopened in July.

Now a close friend to staff at the miniature railway has launched a fundraiser in hopes to aid the overwhelming costs of repairs.

She estimates that over 20 coaches require bearing replacements, which could cost around £1,600, and two diesel coaches requires £300 for its bearings.

Over £400 would be needed to cover the costs of the damaged track due to the track becoming uneven after the flood.

Watford Observer:

Part of the earth had completely shifted, ruining the track

The main ‘Marri’ locomotive requires total rebuilding, which is estimated to be over £5,000, and other locomotives were also damaged in the flooding and require repairs.

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On the GoFundMe, organiser Kayleigh James wrote: “In a truly unprecedented year, the Watford Miniature Railway has been forced to close not once, but twice.

“The Covid-19 outbreak forced the railway to close between March and July, costing the railway over 50 per cent of its usual annual income.

“It was totally devastating that come early October, despite having only reopened for a short 10 week period, the railway would have to close again as a result of catastrophic flooding; the worst seen on the Watford Miniature Railway in its 61 year history.”

Watford Observer: Watford Observer:

The fundraiser should cover most of the costs

The organiser added: "After seeing the flooding and hearing of the damage it caused I was devastated! "After an already tough year after closing due to Covid, this was not the weekend they had planned for the visiting engines gala! I wanted to support the railway and I know a lot of local people would also support them, as it is a very loved part of the Watford area."

Watford Miniature Railway hopes to reopen for Christmas – as long as there are sufficient repairs made in time and it does not conflict with any Covid-19 restrictions – which is more optimistic than Mr O’Mahoney’s previous fears that they may not reopen until Easter 2021.

To donate and help support Watford Miniature Railway, visit here.