Let’s travel back in time to tell the story of our railway.

If you would like to learn more about the fascinating history of the miniature railways of Cleethorpes, why not visit our on site exhibition or purchase a copy of Cleethorpes Miniature Railways by Peter Scott – available in our gift shops.

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Cleethorpes History 1948

The Beginnings


Mr William Botterill of Peterborough was selected by Cleethorpes Borough Council to open a 10 ¼ inch gauge railway behind Cleethorpes Bathing Pool. The track ran for 275 metres and opened to the public on Saturday 17th July 1948. The line was popular but neither the Council nor Botterill were satisfied with the restricted site nor the operating conditions and at the end of the summer season it was proposed that an alternative site be found.

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Cleethorpes History 1948

The Botterill Years

1949 - 1953

The new site was Thrunscoe Recreation Ground on the seaward site of the Boating Lake. The track now 700 metres long, with double track and two stations, one named ‘Cleethorpes Town’ near the Paddling Pool and the other one ‘Thrunscoe. The extended track was an instant hit - however relations between Botterill and the Council were often uneasy – this eventually meant that when Botterill’s lease came up for renewal in 1953, the Council refused – instead inviting new tenders to be submitted.

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Miniture Railway at Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway



New owner Arthur Clethro was from an amusement background and thus decided to build three battery-electric locomotives to operate the railway.

The ‘Cleethorpes Miniature Electric Railway’ as it was now known reopened on Good Friday 1954 and all parties seemed happy. The new era locomotives quietly went about their business and provided reliable service, although they were perhaps not as eye-catching as their steam predecessors.

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Cleethorpes History 1960

The Electric Era

1955 - 1971

The railway operated quietly season-by-season. Clethro was a busy man with interests elsewhere, and in October 1958 he offered the railway for sale to the Council. Thus the railway was "nationalised" in 1959.

Throughout the 1960s, the railway sometimes found itself in difficult waters. It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the railway after years of hard use and by the end of the decade the battery locomotives were showing their age and the railway’s existence was being continuously called into question.

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Cleethorpes expansion 1970-1980



Not without controversy the Council determined to extend and modernise the railway.

At a cost of £40,550, a larger and extended railway was built, opening in June 1972. The new track of 14 ¼” gauge featured two gas propane locomotives, one in the style of 'Flying Scotsman' and the other an American Rio Grande. As part of this upgrade, the railway was extended north and south.

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History of Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway

Upgrade Woes

1970s & 1980's

There were high hopes for the rebirth of the ailway but a general decline in UK tourism over the late 1970s and 80s, and maintenance at a minimal level once again put the railway in financial difficultly and its future in doubt.

Fares continued to rise in an attempt to meet rising costs, but passenger numbers were still low, and there was little change or investment.

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Cleethorpes in 1994


1991 - 2014

Happily, the railway's fortunes were about to change. A group led by Chris Shaw approached the council and an agreement was reached to purchase the railway in 1991.

Forthcoming were infrastructure & rolling stock upgrades plus standardisation of the track to 15 inches in 1994. In 2000, Kingsway Station was relocated closer to Kings Road, incorporating an impressive 45-yard long viaduct. The Signal Box Inn opened in 2006.

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Cleethorpes history the future

New Owners

2014 onwards

The current owners Seaside Railway Group purchased the railway in May 2014.

Over the winter of 2014/5, the station at Lakeside was completely reconfigured and improved with a new café, and further developments took place around the site. The company purchased Scarborough North Bay Railway in 2021, with this second railway now being able to pool resources for mutual benefit.

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Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway

Into the Future

Following the COVID pandemic shut down, the railway grew in popularity – 2021 being the most successful season for decades. The railway as a whole is now a thriving business, having been voted the No.1 tourist attraction in North East Lincolnshire.

The railway celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2023 and continues to be enjoyed by generation after generation of visitors, having now carried over 5 million passengers. It is also a key part of the resort’s tourism offer as well as having played a significant role in the community and in the lives of so many local people who have grown up beside it.