Dean’s Mill Miniature Railway

I have recently discovered that there was a miniature railway, 15″ gauge, which ran at the Deans Mill in Lindfield, West Sussex. This was in operation from c 1937 to 1956. We have traced some of the history; however, would welcome any information anyone has.

I am particularly interested in the fate of the steam locomotive, which ran before the war. Some local reports suggest that it was taken by Canadian troops for repair c 1942, and never seen again; others state that it was still in existence during the 1950’s, and was overhauled at a local motor car garage.

The petrol locomotive traveled to Dreamland, in Margate, Kent, after the line was closed, and is now awaiting restoration, in Evesham.

Once we have established some more facts, I hope to publish a short history, either on-line, or in print.

14 Responses to “Dean’s Mill Miniature Railway”

  1. Stephen Wood Says:

    When I was 6 or 7 years old ( 1952-3 ) my parents used to take me to Dean’s Mill open days to ride on the railway. As far as I can remember it was always steam hauled.

    Unfortunately my parents did not take any photos.

    I also think the watermill was working on those occaisions.

  2. elmgatemodels Says:


    Thank you. It is interesting that you believe a steam loco was working in the early 1950’s, as there little other evidence, and one theory is that the steam loco “disappeared” during the war, as I state in my information.

    I am sure that the mill was operating up to 1956/7 when the owners moved to the Welsh borders.

    If any other memories come to mind, please let me know.


  3. Jonathan Lynwood Says:

    The mill was run by my father from the mid 1950s until 1985 when he retired due to ill health.

  4. Nick kelly Says:

    My late father Maurice Kelly told me that he visited the line on a number of times after the war and the Cagney was there until at least 1950.

    • elmgatemodels Says:


      Thank you. I tend to think that the story about the steam loco being spirited away during the war is apocryphal! However, I am still looking for that elusive photo that will prove it – there is only one known half view of the Cagney, pre war.

  5. Alastair Duncan Says:

    My mother worked for the Horsefields in the bakery at the Deans Water Mill in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I can remember the steam loco being kept in a shed opposite the front of the Mill, at that time I never saw it in operation as I think it failed its boiler test.
    The was no mains electricity at the Mill at that time and power was generated by running the water wheel to power up the batteries which in those days were on the ground floor of the Mill
    The Miller at that time was from Poland and his first name was Bernard

    • elmgatemodels Says:


      Thank you for this. As mentioned to others, if you are able to come up with a photograph of the steam loco, that would provide some evidence of which locomotive it was. Of course, any photos of the railway operating in the 1950’s would be welcome!

  6. Jenny Says:

    have just been looking at family history. I know nothing of this century by my great Grandfather Stephen Upton (15.9.1851 – 17.11.1896) was a Miller and died of flour related lung disease at a young age. My grandmother (who I also don’t remember) was born in Lindfield

  7. Geoff Ward Says:

    All the railway equipment came from Blakesley Hall; I have just written a post on the subject for Facebook and then I was informen of the railwa equipment being moved here.

    • elmgatemodels Says:

      My information is based on Dr Bob Tebb’s history of the Blakesley Hall line, and I have corresponded with him over this. His assumption that the Cagney went to Dean’s Mill is supported by the only picture known of “a” Cagney on site, and I would not challenge what he says; I am just looking for that elusive picture which shows the front of the loco, and hopefully the works number, which would prove beyond doubt! As far as the track, coach and, possibly, parts of the original petrol loco from Blakesley is concerned, Bob’s conclusions may or may not be correct, but I do not have enough knowledge to comment.
      Bob is (or was) the owner of Blacolvesley and restored this some time ago. I have found a reference to Blakesley Hall by “Archivist” on FB, is this you? I note also a reply by “Nick Kelly” who I assume is the one who commented on this page in 2015.

  8. Brian Edward Hillsdon Says:

    Dear Tim. This is from A request for some info please, I am trying to do a worldwide survey of 15″ + miniature gauge steam locomotives. Please did you ever find out anything more and a photo of Trixie at Dean’s Mill. Your reply will be much appreciated. Brian Hillsdon.

  9. Brian Hillsdon. Says:

    Dear Tim thank you very much for your reply, this was most kind of you. I do not think this will ever get solved now.

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