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This page includes everything except the Beer Heights Light Railway
This page focuses solely on the Beer Heights Light Railway


Pecorama

Originally just the home of 'PECO' model railway products the site of the PECO factory has been transformed into one of Devon's leading family-friendly leisure destinations.

Located in the south Devon village of Beer and just a few miles from the also popular Seaton Tramway, Pecorama features a visitors centre complete with an indoor exhibition area, an award-winning landscaped garden complex which will delight people of all ages, a miniature railway and a real Pullman Dining Car from the famous 'Golden Arrow' Boat Train.

Other features of this family-friendly destination include separate safely surfaced adventure playgrounds for children of different ages, a secret garden, several theatres, an aviary, a maze, crazy golf, a picnic area, a fitness trail and more. In addition to the Pullman Dining Car which serves cream teas and homemade cakes there is a licensed restaurant which offers both childrens meals and vegetarians dishes, with highchairs and baby changing facilities also available. In the summer the theatres host shows with clowns, jesters and magicians.

The Beer Heights Light Railway takes passengers on a delightful route around Pecorama. The indoor exhibition area is next to the main visitor entrance and a well stocked retail shop which sells both general souvenirs and railway related items.

More information about Peco and the Pecorama can be found on their website:
http://www.peco-uk.com/ .   http://www.pecorama.info/ ..


. Note that the photographs below primarily focus on the Pullman Dining Car and Beer Heights Light Railway.
They were sourced over several summertime visits (in the 1990's and 2000's) and with a mixture of digital and 35mm film cameras.
Because of varying weather on different visits (and even changes during the day) the lighting conditions vary between blue skies + bright sun and cloudy bright.
To fully appreciate Pecorama and its manifold attractions requires a personal visit.


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Welcome to Pecorama.

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The same view 'looking the other way'.

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One of the first things a visitor to PECO will see is a stylised railway station platform, which is named Beer Victoria.
Nearby is the main visitor entrance where there is the indoor exhibition area plus a well stocked retail shop.

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The indoor exhibition area. This is the only photograph on this webpage of the exhibition area - to properly appreciate what is demonstrated here requires a personal visit.

The Indoor Exhibition Area

The indoor exhibition area is themed along the lines of promoting railway modelling, which it does by showing how a model railway could be incorporated in to many different room settings - including bedroom, converted loft, corridor / hallway, garden shed and more.

To increase attractiveness to the younger visitors many layouts have push-button controls. For people (of all ages) looking for more advanced inspiration and advice there are informative information displays on various aspects of creating a model railway, such as how to build the baseboard and lay model railway trackage so that it will give many years of trouble - free operation. Sometimes there is even an expert on hand to demonstrate some of the techniques involved in building model railway kits, especially of the locomotives / other items of rolling stock which are not available in 'ready to run' form.

Railway modelling is much more than simply 'playing trains'. The acts of building the baseboard, installing scenery, wiring everything so that it works and building / super-detailing the model trains and the model buildings (which usually come in kit form that need building & sometimes painting too) makes railway modelling a creative activity through which young people can learn useful 'life skills', including working as a team, the basics of woodworking, electrics, an appreciation of building design, a general understanding of the interconnectedness of life, how things work, and so much more!

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Outside the exhibition area is a garden railway where visiting children can 'drive' the trains.

The Pullman Dining Car

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At the far end of the stylised platform is a real Pullman Dining Car. Although now just a static exhibit it is still possible to enjoy the luxurious interior furnishings whilst partaking of afternoon tea. This view dates from the 1990's, since when a platform style canopy has been erected over it.

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A view of the Pullman Car as seen from the far end.
On its side can be seen logo for the fléche d'or which comes from when it was part of the 'Golden Arrow' railway service which linked London with Paris.

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At the opposite end of the carriage there is an English language version of the 'Golden Arrow' train name.

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The Pullman Coat of Arms.

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It was usual for Pullman cars to be named - this vehicle is named Orion.

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So now you know who built and (originally) owned Orion.

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A perhaps rather sneaky peek around the back reveals that the 'other' side of Orion is painted plain cream.
Of course few people would even notice this - or be curious enough to even think of looking!

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The stylised railway station platform leads on to one of Orion's corridor gangways, which is now used as the main entrance for passengers wishing to enjoy afternoon tea inside.

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Once inside it is possible to appreciate the high quality varnished wood interior, although looking with modern eyes begs the question of how sustainably (or otherwise) was the sourcing of this wood?
This view is looking towards one of the doors such as would be used when calling at a station platform, Beer Victoria platform and the present-day entrance is to the right and behind the wall on the left are the kitchens.

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Inside the main passenger saloon... note the name Orion on the antimacassars. Being a 1st class Kitchen Car Orion was originally built with mostly 1+1 seating, nowadays however practicality suggests that 2+1 is more appropriate.

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Although it is possible to have the traditional Devonian / West Country scones with clotted cream and jam (fruit preserve) there are other choices too.

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Some people prefer chocolate cake!
Note the copies of railway posters which can be seen through the window on Orion's blank wall side.

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More views of the railway posters which can be seen through the window on Orion's blank wall side.

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More views of the railway posters which can be seen through the window on Orion's blank wall side.

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More views of the railway posters which can be seen through the window on Orion's blank wall side.

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More views of the railway posters which can be seen through the window on Orion's blank wall side.

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In addition to the main passenger lounge Orion also features a private compartment with 2+2 seating for four passengers. This was / is at one end of the carriage. The comparable location at the other end was / is the kitchen area; this is still used by Pecorama staff for this purpose and was not photographed.

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A second view inside the private compartment. Originally there was a partition with an outward opening (ie: into the corridor) door between the compartment and the gangway but this has been removed. The door on the right marked 'private' leads to a toilet and the end vestibule which is where the doorways used at stations plus connection to the next carriage are located.

The Beer Heights Light Railway

The Beer Heights Light Railway (BHLR) is over a mile in length and in addition to taking passengers around the main garden site passes through a tunnel under the car park to an extension known as Wildway Park. The track gauge is 7¼" (18.4cm).

The main station is called 'Much Natter' and there are several additional (albeit less frequently used) stations dotted around the network.

The fleet includes seven steam engines, one diesel engine, a battery-electric tram, three sets of passenger carriages and 15 wagons.

One of the sets of passenger carriages is named 'Beer Belle' and painted in Full Pullman livery. Furthermore, the individual carriages are named after the carriages which once ran in the 'Golden Arrow' Pullman train. This includes 'Orion', which has been preserved at Pecorama. The second set of passenger carriages is named The 'Silver Jubilee Limited' and has been turned out in Crimson Lake livery. The third set of passenger carriages is painted green and named the 'Deverset Special'. These normally run on the Mine Branch Shuttle Train which operates less frequently than the rest of the BHLR. All coach sets are fitted with fail-safe vacuum brakes.

More information about the railway can be found at this page on the Pecorama website http://www.pecorama.info/beer-heights-light-railway/ ..

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All about the Beer Heights Light Railway.

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A train of happy passengers departs from Much Natter station eagerly anticipating their journey around the Pecorama complex.

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Most (if not all) journeys on the BHLR include a return trip through the tunnel. Whilst in the tunnel many parents like to tease their children by making funny noises pretending to be ghosts. Often wise beyond their years, the children are not usually fooled by this and sometimes are even brave enough to suggest that their parents should 'grow up'. Gee, what has happened to childhood nowadays - or has it switched places with the adults?

Signalling

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The Beer Heights Light Railway is fully signalled. This display panel is at Much Natter station and is useful to station staff because it helps them monitor progress of trains so that at busy times they can have the next service ready to depart as soon as possible. Passengers waiting for their train trip like watching the progress of earlier services too.

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The fully automated signalling system means that especially at busier times several trains can be in motion simultaneously. For added safety in case a driver is distracted some stretches of single line where trains can run in either direction feature "SPAD" (signal passed at danger) alarms. The signalling system was designed by a signalling engineer who spent much of his life working on the mainline railway's signalling systems.

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The signalling system comprises of a mixture of lower-quadrant semaphore and colour light signals.
This view was taken on the station platform at White Falls Halt photo point.

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Leaving the tunnel under the car park roadway after a delightful ride through the Wildway Park.
The tunnel works on a single track / bi-directional basis.

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Visitors walking between the car parks and the main entrance pass by this gate, and occasionally are greeted by a passing train travelling on one of the loops around Mount Delight in the Wildway Park. Note that the loop is double track...

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Another view from this gate, albeit looking in the opposite direction and towards the signal box and the tunnel entrance.
The train in the foreground would like to pass through the tunnel but is currently being held at a red signal - which makes very good sense seeing that a freight train is passing through the tunnel with its locomotive seen here poised to pass in front of the signal box as it enters Wildway Park. Meanwhile, another train is bearing off to the right having just travelled along the inside of the pair of tracks around Mount Delight.

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An opposite direction view showing the same gate in the distance - as seen from a train passing in front of the signal box. The train in the background is on the outer loop, also visible is part of the inner loop and (the back of) the signal at which one of the trains in the previous image had stopped.

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The signal box next to the Wildway Park tunnel entrance is called T'other End. Well of course, after all it is at 'the other end' of the tunnel!!!

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An entrance sign for Mount Delight as seen before 'looping the loop' around it.

The Trains

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Just like their (former) mainline counterparts the BHLR's steam engines use real coal, although here the driver is also the fireman.

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Unlike the locomotive seen in the previous image some of them also carry their own supply of coal on the tender.

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Just in case you are looking for the railway!

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Since it is clean and non-polluting this review of the rolling stock starts with the battery-electric tram which has a wheel annotation of Bo-Bo, is No. 10 in the fleet and named 'Alfred'.

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The Bo-Bo diesel hydraulic engine is No.6 in the fleet and named 'Jimmy'.
Here he is seen at Much Natter station with his driver (a lady - and why not?) awaiting the correct departure time before working the last train of the day.

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Two locomotives at Upsan Downs Motive Power Depôt.
2-4-2 locomotive No. 1 in West Midlands peacock blue livery is named 'Otter'.
2-4-2T locomotive No. 7 in Midland Railway (red) livery is named 'Mr P' after the late Mr S C Pritchard, founder of the PECO group of companies (which includes the BHLR) who was affectionately known to his staff as 'Mr P'.

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A view of Otters' cab showing the (closed) firebox door and just some of the knobs and levers which are be needed to 'drive' the engine...

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Engine No 8, is named 'Gem', has a wheel annotation of 0-6-0T and is painted in Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway lined black livery.

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Its almost the end of the day and whilst the diesel hauls the last train of the day the steam locomotives sit outside the engine shed awaiting their human handlers to extinguish their fires, clean out the ashes and put them to bed.
Green liveried 2-4-0 ST No 5 is named 'Linda'
Red liveried 0-4-2 ST No. 4 is named 'Thomas II' after the famous 'Thomas the Tank Engine'.
Blue liveried 0-4-2 No. 3 is named 'Dickie'.

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2-4-4T engine No. 9 is named Claudine after the late Sydney Pritchard's wife who was a co-founder of the Peco group of companies in 1946. Claudine is finished in L.B.S.C. (London Brighton & South Coast Railway) "improved engine green" livery (yellow ochre). Here she is seen at Much Natter at the departure platform awaiting a driver to take her and a group of happy passengers on a guided tour around the Beer Heights Light Railway.

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This set of passenger carriages is named The 'Silver Jubilee Limited' and has been turned out in Crimson Lake livery.

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This set of passenger carriages is named 'Beer Belle' and painted in Full Pullman livery. In addition, the individual carriages are named after the carriages which once ran in the 'Golden Arrow' Pullman train. This includes 'Orion', which has been preserved at Pecorama.

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The third set of passenger carriages is painted green and named the 'Deverset Special'. There are fewer of these carriages and they normally run on the Mine Branch Shuttle Train to Wildway Park which operates less frequently than the rest of the BHLR.
These services usually depart from the bay platform at Little Moore, returning via the deep cutting and nearby White Falls Halt which is where passengers alight prior to them travelling back to Little Moore as ecs (empty coaching stock) - as is seen here. The other train in this image has stopped because it wishes to pass through White Falls Halt and can only do so once the shuttle has cleared the station platform.

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The freight train, complete with a brake van that is staffed by real people.

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Another view of the freight train seen whilst laying over between journeys at the Upsan Downs Motive Power Depôt.
The brake van is empty, although this is perhaps a better view in which to see the various individual wagons.

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Near to Upsan Downs Motive Power Depôt is one of the several turntables which can be found at the BHLR.
The purpose of a turntable is to turn an engine around so that it faces the opposite direction. Although steam locomotives can be driven facing either direction it is usually preferred to have them travelling with the smokebox at the front and the coal at the back. Turntables are short sections of track which rotate so that whatever is on it can be made to face the opposite direction. Turntables have a secondary function in that they can allow connections between many different tracks in a very small space, which might not otherwise be easy to facilitate.

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An example of an engine running tender / bunker first. Note how the train driver is having look backwards (over his shoulder) as he drives the train. Travelling tender first often occurred on the mainline railways and occasionally still does with some 'steam special' services.

The Stations - 1) Much Natter

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A busy time at Much Natter station as passengers alight from a train which has just arrived whilst on a different platform some passengers wait to board what will be the next train to depart. Although it looks like there is also a third platform this is actually a short bay, part of which is where a coal wagon is sometimes stored and part of which is the designated passenger waiting area.

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As this image shows, this is just a short bay.
The coal wagon has a very practical large lever on one side which can be lowered into the trackbed so that it can be locked in place - to prevent it from rolling away on its own accord.

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An opposite direction view of the short bay platform and designated passenger waiting area.

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The purpose of the coal wagon is help keep the steam engines supplied with coal for their fires. Although the coal wagon can be moved by coupling it to one of the engines here we see a railway official demonstrating an alternative option - which is more reminiscent of a model railway than a real passenger carrying railway!

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This much older view of Much Natter station shows the site of the coal wagon siding as it was when there was a water tower here. It comes from a visit in the 1990's and alas the image quality from the scratched and grainy negative film is not the best. The water tower is now next to the turntable at the far end of the station platforms.

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Journey's end - passing under the viewing point just before arriving at Much Natter. Another 35mm film image, this was taken using a 'stretch' or 'panoramic' format camera, which explains the unusual wide but narrow format.

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Nowadays platform 1 tends to be used for departing trains and platform 2 for arriving trains, as seen here.

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Ready to depart - usually trains leaving Much Natter will travel straight ahead and around the main Pecorama site before going through the tunnel to Wildway Park and then returning via a second trip around Pecorama, although there is an option to fork right and travel straight to Wildway Park via the tunnel.

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After a journey has been completed, the passengers disembarked and the next working set off on its way the empty train will be reversed out of Much Natter station and (see next two images)...

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(continued from previous image text) ...shunted to the departure platform.
Note that even this train movement is carried out under the control of the signalling system.

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An older view of the shunting manoeuvre, as seen from the footbridge - which is also a designated viewpoint.

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Then the locomotive is disconnected from the train and turned on the turntable - before using the now empty arrivals track to run around the train and (eventually) couple up at the front of the empty carriages - ready for the next journey.

The Stations - 2) White Falls Halt & Little Moore

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The combined White Falls Halt / Little Moore platforms and railway viewing point are just behind a level crossing style gate; in the distance is Upsan Downs Motive Power Depôt with the maintenance depôt to the left and the carriage sheds (plus a turntable) out of sight to the right.

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A mainline train races through White Falls Halt and past the bay platform at Little Moore without stopping.

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The empty coaching stock which will be used on the Shuttle service to Wildway Down is shunted into the bay platform at Little Moore.

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Having shunted into the bay platform at Little Moore passengers board the special shuttle train for Wildway Park under the watchful eye of the train driver (as seen from a passing mainline train.)

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White Falls Halt is normally used as an 'arrivals only' stopping point. This is to reduce station dwell times to the minimum as being on the mainline there is otherwise a risk of delaying the through (non-stop) services. However, as this and the next image show, sometimes there are exceptions to how things are usually done...

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A busy scene as passengers board the shuttle train to Wildway Down.

The Stations - 3) Wildway Down

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Arriving at Wildway Down.

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Wildway Down station name - as with all good expeditions it is good to take a few photographs as souvenirs of the visit / so that you can prove that you have been there!

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This is a terminal (dead end / end of line) station where the engine (which here is named 'Otter') must 'run around' the train so that it will be at the front again when leaving.
Whilst doing this most passengers opted to alight and stretch their legs, however one lady preferred to remain on the train.

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The train driver slowly reverses Otter onto the train. When leaving this station the train must negotiate the steepest gradient on any 7¼inch railway in Britain.
Because of the severity of the incline services can only visit Wildway Down when the weather (and the rails) are dry; in wet weather the rails become slippery so in case the engine cannot climb the gradient and the train becomes stuck there Shuttle services just circumnavigate Wildway Park instead.

The Peco Celebration Gardens

Pecorama also includes some highly acclaimed gardens which will be of interest to anyone who likes gardeners, even if they are not interested in railways.

These images only hint at the full extent of the gardens - a personal visit really is required fully appreciate everything there is to see here.

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The Sun Garden.

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The Roof Garden - inspiration for a patio too!

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The Secret Garden with its pagoda walkway, many floral displays and seating is an oasis of calm.

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Inside the Moon Garden is a delightful Grotto which has been predominantly decorated with sea shells depicting a Dolphin sculpture leaping out of the sea, trying to touch the moon.

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The lush and exotic planting extends beyond the themed gardens to the walkways around the site.

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The Peco Gardens Memorial.

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This page last updated 31st December 2016.
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