The Groudle Glen Railway 1896 – 1939This 2 foot gauge line was opened on 23 may 1896 and ran from the upper part of the glen, Lhen Coan, to the zoo at Sea Lion Rocks and was operated by one engine, built by Bagnall ,called "Sea Lion ", and three coaches. Later a 2nd loco named "Polar Bear" , and additional coaches were purchased. Closed during the first world war , when the railway reopened , it was at first operated by battery loco's but they were not a success , so the original steam locomotives were overhauled and returned to service. The railway closed again during the second world war and the zoo closed for good . A landslide during the war years ensured that services could not return to the original terminus. The line reopened in 1950 and was operated only by " Sea Lion " for the next 12 years until 1962 when the loco was worn out .1960 to 1962 being known as the "fairground era" as the stock was all painted in loud colours with blue and red dominating, and fairground-style lettering and lining applied to the locomotive. In the late 1960s both engines had left and "Polar Bear" was restored at Amberley chalk pits and "Sea Lion" was displayed in a shop/museum in Loughborough until 1987 when it was restored and returned to service on the restored line. In 1982 a start was made to restore the line and it was officially re-opened on 23 May 1986 . In 2003 a replica battery electric locomotive was added.
Locomotives " Sea Lion " 2-4-0 T Bagnall 1484 built 1896. "Brown Bear " 2-4-0 T New build replica under construction , 2013 - 2018. " ANNIE " 0-4-2 ST Richard Booth 1922 built 1998 "Dolphin " 0-4-0 DM Hunslet 4384 built 1952 " Walrus " 0-4-0 DM Hunslet 4353 built 1952 " Polar Bear" 4w BE Alan Keef built 2003 [replica of 1921 battery loco] "Parracombe " 0-4-0 DM Baguley 3232 built 1947 [steam outline , ex Butlins Clacton ]
The first 3 photo's show "POLAR BEAR" , which is now resident at AMBERLEY CHALK PITS . and is seen some time in the 1950's . information again provided by Brian Meldon . The loco is not in the fairground livery of 1961/62 so I think the photo must be 1960 or before. There is also no name on the side tank. I think this was not re-instated when it was re-painted in the 1950’s so I think that the photo dates from between 1953 and 1960. I am sure this date could be narrowed down a bit more with the date of the 1950’s repaint when the name was removed from the tanks . http://www.ggr.org.uk/ .