ontrackplant.com 20th Birthday

29th December 2019

ontrackplant.com 20th Birthday

Blast from the past

As usual, the Christmas period saw the birthday of the website, and this year it was the big 20.

Back in 1999, OTP wasn't really covered in any of the railway enthusiast magazines and there hadn't been any books published since 1995 so I felt that there was a bit of a gap that needed filling. Inspired by other popular websites like The Doctor's gbrail website, I decided to work on a site specifically about OTP. After several months of work I launched the website on 26th December 1999 under the name of "OTPnet". The Doctor also mentioned the website and a few people came along and started contributing sightings and photos.

In the early days, the website was very time consuming to operate. I would receive 2 or 3 emails per day, and re-type it all up into the "recent sightings" and "list" formats. Likewise I'd have to resize and re-upload any photos sent in. The number of emails grew to 10-20++ per day and it soon became ridiculously hard to manage. This led to the creation of the "database" which enabled people to add sightings & photos by themselves and the website be updated automatically! Without these automatic update features, I honestly don't think the website would be here today.

If you're feeling nostalgic, you can view the very first version of the website here. It hasn't aged well, but it's amazing to see how far we have come!

You can also view past birthday posts which may contain snippets of info about the website's history... 19, 15, 12, 11, 10, 9, 4 & 2.

Thank you

I would like to take a moment to thank Ben, Nick, Paul, Roy & Roger for helping keep the records for various machines on the website up-to-date; along with numerous other dedicated correspondents who put in the miles checking things out, reporting sightings and uploading photos! Without everyone who contributes we wouldn't be where we are today.

I would also like to thank all the companies & managers for allowing enthusiasts around your depots.

Thank you.


Finally, some of you may be interested in a few statistics!

Just before the birthday on December 22 2019 we hit the massive milestone of 1,000,000 sightings! AshfordSteve's sighting of APWebb's RL005 at Ashford takes that accolade.

DR73905 Eddie King is still the most reported machine, with 1287 sightings.

16,500 photos.

Over the years the website gradually expanded, initially covering large track machines, small machines and powered trolleys; to including road-railers, and more recently trailers & attachments. We now have over 11,500 vehicles in the database, comprising of:

Large Machines - 1809

Snowploughs - 124

Trolleys & Railcars - 908

Small Machines - 394

Road-Railers - 3977

Trailers - 2881

Attachments - 267

Wagons - 1055

Seatless/Miscellaneous Machines - 276



All comments are the opinions of their respective authors, and do not reflect the opinions of ontrackplant.com. If you find an offensive comment and want it removed then please contact us with details.

  • Ben Williams avatar

    Ben Williams Editor

    20 years - quite a scary thought.

    Thanks (I think) for starting it all off - it's turned into a bit of a beast - but a friendly beast, rather than one that might eat part of your leg.

    And yes - thanks to those that keep it going and continue to contribute.

    Hopefully we can plan something special for the 21st birthday...

  • Jon Horswell

    Jon Horswell

    In the Help tab, did the three unidentified machines ever get ID'ed.

  • Vince avatar

    Vince Website editor

    They did indeed

    Minima II #2834


    Volker Stevin #2831

  • Roy Hennefer

    Roy Hennefer

    Many congratulations. Long may the site thrive.

  • Jim Gillies

    Jim Gillies

    I whole heartedly agree with Roy's last comment.

    But is there any cure to the addiction to the site.

    If there is please keep it to yourself.

  • william poleson

    william poleson

    Congratulations on the big 20.

    I raise a glass to many more years of contributions.

    All the best !

  • Cristoff avatar


    A very happy Birthday to you.

    Just had a look at the original site which was interesting. Also brings into perspective just how developed the current site is. The behind the scenes knowledge to make it work so well is truly something to be marvelled at. I think the thing that really makes the site so successful is the friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people running it. Hats off to you all.

    Best regards


  • Robin Morel

    Robin Morel

    If any mainline registered machine was to be named, what would your preference be ! I'll iron the velvet naming curtains ready and let HQ know, you'd be surprised how much use the site gets internally....


  • Bryan Blundell

    Bryan Blundell

    Happy Birthday from me as well.

  • Andrew Martin

    Andrew Martin

    Many congratulations and many thanks to all those who contribute in all ways, large and small and particularly to those who beaver away in the background keeping things up to date and making such a fantastic website and resource.

  • Jon Horswell

    Jon Horswell

    The only thing I miss is a list of names. There was once a tab that showed the nameplate and the meaning of it but this seems to have disappeared. It would be nice to have a link back that lists ALL the plant that has been named over the years.

  • Vince avatar

    Vince Website editor

    Hi Jon,

    This is actually something I've been working on lately - see here - it doesn't have name plate photos though, and some information is still a bit vague on some names; so if anyone can help update it (or supply good quality nameplate photos) then please get in touch!

  • Dennis Graham avatar

    Dennis Graham

    May I add my congrats to Vince for the longevity of the site.

    Looking at the first version took me back. Doesn't seem that long since I discovered the first version from a mention on The Doctor's site in the very early days and have been hooked since. How it's changed. Long may it continue.

  • Nick Tompkin avatar

    Nick Tompkin

    I can only agree with all the comments in recent days. Thank you for making the site the fantastic resource it has become.

    On a personal note, it has encouraged me to visit places I would likely not have visited around the UK (who would have thought that Weddington Terrace, Nuneaton would ever justify an impromptu day out from West Sussex!) and meet friends who I otherwise would never have met. So thank you!