The Flatland Washes Railway

by Cheeseminer.

A British outline light industrial line in the flatness of Cambridgshire, UK.

The "Cheese Line" of the FWR network is a light, narrow gauge, industrial line whose primary function is to transport cheese ore mined from the area around Bider Fens to the wharf at Redbridge - a small tidal port near the Wash, a large muddy expanse of mud to the north of East Flatlia. Other goods are transported occasionally and there is a little passenger traffic.

Dating from 1906 (i.e. the middle of June) the line has a curious gauge of 2ft, 9 and 3/4 inches. This gauge happened to fit the FWR company's one and only whole and functioning loco - picked up cheaply at a sale. This small diesel shunter loco, later refurbished and named "Edam" according to local custom, served the line until the company could afford more suitable motive power.

FWR No1. EDAM in it's "first rebuild" guise

Cheese mining is a common industry in Flatlandic countries. Cheese ore is a soft yellow mineral usually mined by deep underground shafts, however some natural cave systems contain significant quantities of cheese (see: Cheddar Gorge). Early processing methods would leave tiny rocks in the finished product resulting in broken teeth if not eaten with care, and leading to the phrase 'hard cheese' to mean bad luck.

A quick tour

A slideshow of photographs of home and visiting stock on the FWR

Some videos!

2010 Open day

Simon's footplate tour of the early FWR


The FWR, initially just the Flatland Railway, sometimes the Flatland Light Railway, was started in 2006.  Our garden was very long and narrow.  The part nearer the house was the 'pretty bit', and the section at the bottom was the 'productive bit' which really left a not-very-used bit in the middle ripe for 'cultivation'.  The 'Starting Out' pages illustrate the evolution from a land of lumpy weeds onwards.

The 'Flatland' name came from our opinion of the local scenery.  The W came from the serendipitous arrival of a new car with the registration letters "F W R".  We've settled on "Washes", relating the flat/wet bit to the north of the flat/muddy bit we lived just south of.

In August 2014 we implemented a long held dream and proceeded to give up our 'day' jobs and go run a B&B instead - somewhere where there's hills!  A long search and no small amount of luck and leaping-of-faith led us to take on an enormous place in Malvern Wells, Worcestershire: The Dell House. We left the Flatland Washes track in the enthusiastic hands of a young family. I converted Edam to battery power so they could have something to run but otherwise most of the FWR has been mothballed in the basement, awaiting completion of less urgent household needs such as 'roof' and 'heating'....

In August 2016 the business is ticking along nicely; the new life is fantastic, and the concrete is being poured into a new trackbed...