A new heritage railway has been granted planning permission, and could make visits to the Crossness steam pumping museum a lot more convenient.

The possibility of a light railway being built near Abbey Wood has been lurking around since 2011, when the Royal Gunpowder Mills loaned a locomotive to the Crossness team under an agreement to restore it.

That locomotive is a local one though, being the oil fired steam engine, Avonside 0-4-0T Woolwich, which once worked the light railway built inside the Woolwich Arsenal.

It’s the Crossness pumping station – a marvel of Victorian engineering – which is leading the plans for the railway, as the pumping station is deep inside a huge Thames Water estate, and it’s a decent walk from the entrance and car park to to the pumping station itself.

Hence, the plans for an 18-inch light railway to relieve visitors of that half-mile walk. The intention is that people would arrive at the edge of the estate, then head to the Victorian pumping station on a steam train.

At the moment, it’s either a bus ride, or long walk from Abbey Wood station to get to the site, so most visitors tend to arrive by car. The planning application was submitted last October, and yesterday, Bexley Council approved the plans, subject to a survey on managing road traffic from visitors to the site.

In the long term, there may even be an option to extend the railway from the Crossness car park along the ridgeway towards Plumstead, and then provide a very convenient link to the mainline station.

Give it a couple of years, and a trip on the new Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood could conclude with a trip on a steam train.

If you want to learn more about the plans, and to see the restored locomotive, Crossness pumping station is holding one of its open days on 30th April 10:30am-4pm.


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  1. Uy Hoang says:

    Thanks for covering this story Ian. It wounds like a great idea, although I am not sure if the railway can really fit on top of the Ridgeway as it is quite narrow and there may not be space for other Ridgeway Users to navigate the path. Although there is some space besides the ridgeway which may be used to run the train.


    Ridgeway Users group

  2. ja woolf says:

    Looks like a brilliant idea!

  3. GT says:

    How about a “proper” light railway ( 2-foot gauge ) & providing a service for Thamesmead, as well? Terminating at Abbey Wood, of course (!)

    • Ian Visits says:

      You mean, like the planned DLR extension to Thamesmead?

    • Patsy Oakes says:

      Totally agree with you.
      Seems totally crazy that the Dlr terminated at Woolwich Arsenal, a d should have continued through September London.
      Hope the extension is to Abbey Wood and beyond to connect to all services and areas.

    • Patsy Oakes says:

      Meant hope it extends to all South East London

    • Patsy Oakes says:

      Totally agree with you.
      Seems totally crazy that the Dlr terminated at Woolwich Arsenal,as it should have continued through South East London.
      Hope the extension is to Abbey Wood and beyond to connect to all services and areas.

  4. We at RANG Railway are now building a two foot gauge railway.
    We now have a working locomotive & carriages under restoration.
    Come see us on first open day Sunday April 22.
    Join us as restorers/volunteers.
    Robin – Team Lead @ Crossness Engines Trust.

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