The railway is run by the Swanley New Barn Society, with everyone you see on your day out at the railway a volunteer.
The railway accepts volunteers from the ages of 13 upwards.
All training for driving, guarding, signalling and other activities is given on-site by experieced members. We are actively seeking people over the age of 18 who would like to drive and or signal on the SNBR. With a minimum of 3 days driving and a few days help in the winter months is all we ask for. Most of our Adult members pass out for driving diesels and signalling, while steam engine driving takes a little longer to learn.
If you would like to join please contact us via Facebook
Signal Box - Holborn Crossing
the first year of operation of the railway, a signal box was built at Lakeside to control the signals and points in the vicinity of the station. Track circuits are installed throughout the layout and the signal frame is fully interlocked. The track arrangement has been changed several times during the railway's life and the box now controls 15 signals and 8 sets of points.
The signal frame is one of the few Westinghouse Type L still in operation and the 35 lever frame was originally part of the Gloucester Road (Croydon) box instalation. The levers are fully interlocked with the point detection and track circuits. Unlike the original installation the interlock logic is not performed by interconnecting the lever switches (D-bands) and external relays, but a custom built micro-computer is used and the logic performed by a program stored on an EPROM. The lever positions, point detection and track circuits are used as inputs, and outputs from the computer drive the interlock solenoids, point motor relays, signals and the track diagram. With the exception of the signals, which use a low voltage AC supply, all systems run from a constantly charged 12v car battery. Although not really in keeping with railway tradition, doing it this way means that the system can be easily updated to meet changing track layouts. The design also has two totally automatic modes of operation built-in which enables the railway to function in the absence of a signalman.
The majority of signals are built using comercial vehicle marker lamp housings running from a 12v AC supply. The approach signal to the station complex is fitted with 12v 20w dichroic bulbs giving visibility of over 100 meters, even on sunny days. The signal at New Barn Halt (400m from the box) is supplied with 110v from a standard industrial safety transformer. All are operated by solid state switches in the box.
The points are operated by car windscreen motors modified to give 2 stop positions. They are contolled by relays driven by the box computer. The car battery is used to absorb the high motor currents. The point position is detected by microswitches directly operated by the blade tie bar.
Unlike full size practice the track circuits are 'single ended' with one rail permenently connected to ground. The other rail is fed with 12v DC through a resistor and the voltage on that rail monitored electronically. The monitor circuit is designed to deal with the intermittent rail-wheel contact and the leakage caused by wet sleepers
The SNBR signal box is named Holborn Crossing in memory of our founding member and original driving force of the Railway Christopher Johnson. Chris during his BR career was at one point an area manager with Holborn Viaduct being part of his patch. This now closed station was for a period a 3 platform terminus, similar to our New Barn station. However we don't have a viaduct, but we do have a crossing, so the name Holborn Crossing was chosen as a subtle but fitting way of remembering our beloved Chris. In 2016 a commemorative plaque was unveiled on the side of the Signal box by Chris' family, lead by his wife Sally.
The Swanley Narrow Gauge railway openned as a private venture in 1986. This ran over half the present route, using 1 engine in a push pull system. The initial operators had massive plans, including to build a big boy steam engine. The original track design also included a 30' turntable to be located between the signal box and the carriage shed. funds and other better ideas, like putting the turn table at the end of the station meant this turn table was never built. The big boy plan never proceeded either.
In 1987 the railway came under council control and was renamed Swanley New Barn Railway (the park was then called New Barn Park). By the end of 1987 the railway was changing control into the present operators the Swanley New Barn Railway Society after the then council were considering closing the railway due to the costs of operating the railway with paid staff.
In 1987 the railway was completed as a circuit with a 3 platform terminus one end and a Halt the other (adjacent to the main car park). The railway has improved every subsequent year to point that the early pioneers may well forget how far the railway and society have come along. With one of the largest engine and carriage fleets in 7 1/4" gauge and more on the way.