Debut children’s novel from family linked to Audley End Miniature Railway

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville. Picture: AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville. Picture: AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY - Credit: Audley End Miniature Railway

Two sisters have penned their debut children’s novel, taking inspiration from their family and father Lord Braybrooke, founder of Audley End Miniature Railway.

Robin, the late Lord Braybrooke. Picture: SUBMITTED

Robin, the late Lord Braybrooke. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Audley End Miniature Railway

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville features the characters Robin and Hetty.

Robin is named after train enthusiast the late Lord Braybrooke, and Hetty is in memory of his daughter who died.

In the book Robin and Hetty are brother and sister. A naughty elf gets Father Christmas’s sleigh stuck under the railway track, and Robin and Hetty use their wit and work with the elves to free the sleigh, so Father Christmas can deliver presents around the world.

Emma said: “The first lockdown played in our favour. We had time on our hands when the doors of the railway were shut. This was the perfect opportunity to bring this dream to fruition.”

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville. Picture: AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville. Picture: AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY - Credit: Audley End Miniature Railway


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Their father built Audley End Miniature Railway at the bottom of his garden. Hetty was never happier than when she was playing in the woods, surrounded by nature and animals.

Emma said they found their illustrator, Philip Shaw who is known as the Tall Chin, through friends of friends, and he captured the magic feeling of the Miniature Railway.

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“We looked at his watercolours. We thought they were absolutely charming. He has been to the railway and brought his sketch book and his camera.”

Amanda said: “I’ve been thinking about doing the book for the last five years.

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville. Picture: AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY

A Christmas Catastrophe in the Enchanted Audley End Woods by Amanda and Emma Neville. Picture: AUDLEY END MINIATURE RAILWAY - Credit: Audley End Miniature Railway

“About eight years ago I created the Fairy Walk. It’s incredible how people love walking through the woods to find the fairies. With Hetty and Robin we can feed into exploring nature and all the things that children need to do outdoors.”

Amanda said the book comes with a golden bell hidden in a velvet pouch, which readers could uncover on Christmas morning.

They hope the book will be the first of a series, and welcome reader feedback.

Get the book from Audley End Miniature Railway’s shop when lockdown lifts, or buy it online for £12.99 plus P&P from www.audley-end-railway.co.uk

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