The Burnley and Pendle Miniature Railway Society was founded in 1990 by a small group of locals who enjoyed operating miniature railways. For many years, the Society operated a 400 yard portable seven and a quarter gauge track at many local events and fairs, using a small electric locomotive – which was later superseded by a member’s British Rail Sprinter ‘150 001’.
All the proceeds raised by operating the portable track were put back into the society in a bid to secure a site for a permanent railway.
Over the years, various sites were proposed. The first of which was Townley Park, in Burnley. The local Council was looking for an alternative form of transport between the well-known Townley Hall and the then new car park – a distance of approximately 1 mile. The proposal was considered by the Society, however the Council required the Society to operate a half hourly service and be able to carry up to 70 passengers. The former requirement could easily be fulfilled, however the latter would require increasing the gauge to ten and a quarter – which, even then, would still struggle to meet the requirement.
The second site visited was Victoria Park, on the Nelson / Barrowford border. This would have resulted in a circuit of up to half a mile around the main bandstand. Access to the site was already approved and the Mayor of Pendle and the Pendle Parks Department were very keen on the idea. However the planning application was refused by the Barrowford Parish Council – as this was the side of the river the track would be located. The Society then faced the decision the either re-submit the application under an appeal process or look elsewhere; as the surrounding area had slowly succumbed to vandalism, the decision was taken to search for an alternative site.
In the end, the decision was taken to write to the Councils from which the Society takes its name – the Burnley Borough Council and the Pendle District Council – explaining our aims and asking for suggestions of potential within the boroughs.
Amongst the suggestions was Thompson Park, an ornamental Edwardian park close to the centre of town. The park stands next the the famous Bank Hall Colliery and Incline and on the grounds of an open air school and the gardens of the old hospital. Following many site visits, portable track running, and much liaison between the Society and the Burnley Borough Council Parks Department, a plan was submitted and approved. Then followed an extensive survey to explore the land in the proposed area to find the best plans possible.