The world's smallest public railway, it was built in 1927 for millionaire racing driver Captain J.E.P. Howey. During World War II, the line was taken over by the military. After the war the line was re-opened by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. As well as being a tourist attraction, this railway is a useful service between the small towns it serves and is also under contract to the local council to transport schoolchildren to and from school, for which purpose a special train is used.
A serious accident occurred on the line on August 3, 2003, when a train hit a car at an ungated level crossing and was derailed. The volunteer train driver, 31 year old Kevin Crouch, died in the crash. Some of the train passengers were treated for shock and minor injuries. The car driver, a woman with a baby, had apparently ignored or failed to see the crossing's warning lights. The woman and her baby were taken to hospital but were not badly hurt. The owners of the line and the Health and Safety Executive promised a full investigation into the crash. The woman was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.