A CHANCE discovery in a gift shop on a remote Scottish island has helped Jennyruth Workshops near Ripon forge lasting business links with a miniature railway in Cheshire.
Andy Higgins – a volunteer at the High Legh Railway near Knutsford – was on the island of Iona when he bought the small, inch-square wooden sheep made by the social enterprise based in Bridge Hewick.
Andy said: “It’s the best £4 I’ve spent for contact details.”
Impressed by the quality of the product, he contacted Jennyruth Workshops to see if they could make some large wooden animals to be dotted around the not-for-profit railway based at the High Legh Garden Centre.
The animals – including a cow, two ducks, a sheep, a pig and a donkey – were installed in July last year, followed by some Halloween decorations in October.
Jennyruth’s workshop manager Mark Scott said: “We try and stay away from the mass-production type of thing where people do the same kind of repetitive work and instead produce pieces which use different skills, such as art and woodwork.”
And so when the chassis of one of High Legh’s trains began to show its age, Andy had no hesitation in commissioning Jennyruth Workshops to build a replacement.
“One train was looking a bit battered and so I invited staff from Jennyruth to look at it,” he said.
“I came to Jennyruth because the things made here are good quality.”
After taking measurements in January, the staff at Jennyruth Workshops spent six months building the new chassis in the style of an A4 Mallard engine.
Collecting it in person, Andy said: “I’m incredibly chuffed and excited about what has been created because it’s something different for our railway.”
The solidly-built wooden construction features LED lights and space for Andy to install a smoke machine to produce steam through the chimney.
Featuring the Jennyruth logo and called ‘The Wren’, the chassis will run on a six-wheel, electrically-powered running gear.
Before leaving with the new train body, Andy placed another order with Jennyruth to build some interpretation and information signs for the railway.
And a further order could be in the offing with plans to introduce more wooden animals at the railway next summer.