The Beer Heights Light Railway
Considered by many to be the finest 7¼ inch gauge railway in Britain, the Beer Heights Light Railway (BHLR) first opened to the public on the 14 July 1975. Given the location of Pecorama, high on the hillside above the village of Beer, a ride on the railway offers wonderful views over Lyme Bay and along the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the distant Portland Bill.
Having been gradually extended over the years, the line forms a complex, convoluted circuit now one mile in length. Passenger trains start and finish at the terminus of Much Natter Station, just inside the main Garden entrance. The route starts off through the formal gardens, includes many bridges, extensive sidings and a lengthy tunnel. Following this, the train seems to go out into the countryside and passes the new Deepwater station. Here passengers may choose to alight to enjoy the tranquillity of Lake Charlotte, the beautiful wildlife pond in Wildway Park, where there is also a nature walk and fitness trail. The train then passes a branch line which zig-zags down very steep gradients to the Beer Mine.
At the very busiest times, train services can involve running up to three passenger trains and four locomotives at once. Smooth and safe operation is assured by the fully automatic, fail-safe signalling system which utilises both colour light and traditional semaphore signals. Much of the railway’s extensive fleet of locomotives and rolling stock is based on British narrow gauge railway practice such as the well-known ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’, but one-third of the size!