THE Coate Water Miniature Railway will not be running on Saturday.

Visitors to the popular attraction will be disappointed when they turn up at the station for their ride, but they will be missing out for a good reason.

Members of North Wilts Model Engineering Society, whose volunteers operate the railway, will not be manning the engines, but instead will be celebrating 50 years of the track at the scenic venue.

The railway will re-open on Sunday, allowing visitors to join the celebrations.

The North Wilts Model Engineering Society was formed in 1964, and first moved to Coate in 1965 having gained permission from Swindon Borough Council to build a track on the the site, explained group spokesman, Ken Parker.

The first railway was a raised level track of approximately 200ft for 3.5” and 5” gauge locos.

“In those days, everything had to be brought to the park to run the locos, including the water. The track was opened in 1965 by the then mayor of Swindon,” said Mr Parker.

In 1971, the council was approached for more land and permission was given to build a larger layout, measuring 800ft long.

“This track opened in 1972 with the spur off the main line to the turntable and steaming bays,” Ken said.

“The additional line was added during the construction of the station to allow trains to pass.

“During this time the public were given rides from May till September to raise the funds required to carry out the work.

“It was officially opened by the then-mayor of Swindon in 1972 and in the late eighties, permission was sort to further extend the railway to the track we have today this was completed in 1995.

We also had a lease on land for a further extension and plans were drawn up but planning permission was not applied for.

In 2011, the club was approached by Forward Swindon to find out what plans we had for the railway.

“Forward Swindon were looking into ways of making the Richard Jeffries Museum more accessible to visitors to Coate Water,” Ken added.

“On further investigation it was found that it was possible to extend our lease down to the boundary of the Richard Jeffries Museum.”

Plans were drawn up and submitted for planning permission, this was granted in 2012. Some initial work was carried out at the end of 2012.

"In order to make the inclines of the line suitable for model locomotives, an embankment is required at the bottom of the site, to raise the level of railway and is almost complete.

"For the same reason, at the top end of the site, cuttings will need to be dug and it is hoped the full extension will be operational early next year."

The railway will be operating as normal during the extension work and will be open on the first, second and fourth Saturday and every Sunday each month throughout the year, weather and volunteers permitting.

For further information go to Rides run on Sunday from 11am until 5pm, costing £1.20 per person, per ride