Mangapps Railway Museum

Mangapps Railway Museum is a privately owned collection and working railway, based in Burnham-On-Crouch in Essex.

When I was tiny, my Dad used to volunteer there. We used to go fairly regularly when I was a child but it had been quite a few years since I’d been.

My Dad had heard that they had been doing a lot of work there over lockdown, so we decided to head over on Father’s Day to investigate along with one of my Dad’s friends.

The collection is massive! Although there is a lot of rolling stock on site, they also have a huge collection of other smaller items, ranging from ticket machines:

To sections of metal fencing. This beautifully crafted piece came from London Liverpool Street station.

Here I must confess that a lot of what I photographed was of LNER origin, or from the number of railways that went on to form LNER. There’s a lot in the collection from the other ‘Big Four’ such as GWR and LMS as well as BR from the late 1940s up until the 1990s, but I’m making a OO gauge microlayout set in the LNER, so I’m afraid I was rather biased.

Speaking of model trains, these signal diagrams would make for interesting track plans. There were a lot on display but these two really caught my interest. The village of Cold Norton used to have an autograss track, but as far as I know it’s closed down now.

Mangapps also carry a large collection of railway signage, from station name boards to staff and passenger notices and warning signs. I’m going to try to recreate this for my layout.

LNER horse drawn parcel delivery wagon. This was apparently used well into the 1940s and would make a lovely model.

This electric baggage truck was an interesting piece. I bet it was good fun to drive around!

Of course the biggest draw to a railway museum is the trains! There are a few steam and diesel locomotives to see in the main part of the museum:

They also have a large workshop containing lots of diesels that was open to the public. Seeing the 03 shunter all stripped down for an engine rebuild was interesting. They also had a pair of Network Rail yellow Class 31s which I would love to see run one day!

Some of the collection’s steam locomotives were undergoing boiler maintenance. The stripped down chassis’ were waiting outside for their rebuilds.

This little early diesel 0-4-0 was also hanging out among some wagons.

As well as traditional locomotives they also have a selection of Maintenance of Way vehicles; light vehicles used for carrying railway staff and tools up and down the line. They look like brilliant fun!

Along with the locomotives, they have a huge collection of wagons.

Of particular interest to me was this London, Tilbury & Southend Railway vacuum cleaning van which I would love to scratchbuild for my layout! It’s a lovely thing!

There were a few coaches in the museum. Most notable to me was this LNER teak. These are such beautiful, art-deco pieces. It’s nice to finally see a real one in person.

Alongside the teak were some London underground coaches. The way the sides bow out of 22624 is an interesting design feature.

The museum also runs a small passenger service from the main museum to a small halt 3/4 of a mile away. On this day the service was being hauled by a Class 03 shunter in BR blue. The driver was very chatty and even let me stand in the cab. I haven’t been in the cab of a locomotive since my 18th birthday, so that was a nice treat.

On the platform was my hometown, Billericay’s old LNER signal box from when the town had a little goods depot.

All in all it was a really nice, chilled out Father’s Day. Thanks to the team at Mangapps for being so hospitable, and hopefully we’ll be back soon! If you’re in Essex, the museum is definitely worth a visit. There’s a lot to see in the collection, I only really scratched the surface!

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By Richard Francis

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