THE first track has been laid for a new mini railway which is hoped to be open by next summer.

The Taunton Model Engineers (TME) previously ran the miniature railway in Vivary Park, but was evicted in 2017.

Thousands of children across the region enjoyed riding the train in the park, as well as at the second site in Creech St Michael, which also had to be vacated.

A hunt for a new location began, and after looking into 30 potential sites, the group eventually settled on West Buckland.

With planning permission approved, the group is full steam ahead to get the first stage up and running.

TME is a charity, run entirely by volunteers, and has been in existence since 1946.

There are 120 members across Somerset and East Devon.

This is The West Country:

BUILDING: TME members putting together the track

David Hartland, chairman of the group, said: "TME has laid the first piece of track at our new site near West Buckland.

"This is the first step in a large project to producing a complete miniature railway and open space for the village.

"The track being laid is a mixed gauge of seven 1/4in and 5in laid at the ground level.

"Rails are made of steel, attached to recycled plastic sleepers made from supermarket carrier bags, and these are laid into a compacted layer of stone ballast.

"Cuttings and embankments are being formed on site to accommodate the sloping ground, and a tunnel and pond is planned.

"Level crossing and car parking areas are being constructed and extra trees planted."

This is The West Country:

SETTING UP: The tracks ready to be set at the site

Once fully complete, the whole track will be around one mile in length at the site, which is based off Stoford Lane.

While the group are working to construct the site, they are also fundraising to ensure they can keep doing what they do best.

Mr Hartland added: "An intense effort at fundraising is underway to raise the money for the project and new volunteers are always welcome.

"If all goes well, the first stage should be open to the public in summer 2020."

To get involved with the project, or to donate, get in touch with Mr Hartland by emailing david.hartland@cantab.net or call 07711229071.