FAMOUS passengers have included the Queen and Prince Charles - plus members of showbiz royalty.

Now the narrow-gauge railway at one of Hampshire's top attractions, Exbury Gardens in the New Forest, is steaming towards its 20th anniversary.

The Queen has been a fan of the railway since she named one of the locomotives in 2008 and rode in the cab.

Three years later it was the turn of Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, to board the train.

Two of Britain’s best-loved actresses, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, have also travelled on the Exbury Express.

In 2017 a £50,000 extension to the line was opened by TV historian Dan Snow, who lives in the Forest.

Dan cited the importance of railways in the economic history of the world – and said his two children would love to have an Exbury-style train in their garden.

Owned by the Rothschild family, the award-winning gardens have been open to the public since the 1950s.

The railway was the inspiration of the late Leopold de Rothschild, who loved trains as a child and always wanted to build one for visitors to the site.

A replica Victorian station, Exbury Central, forms part of the Rhododendron Line, which takes visitors through the famous woodland garden.

Exbury will mark the railway's 20th anniversary by an exhibition staged by the New Forest Model Railway Society over the Father's Day weekend - June 19 and 20.

A spokesperson said: "Enthusiasts will be on hand to give hints and tips on how to build model railways at home, with layouts sized from 30ft long to those you can keep on a windowsill.

"For visitors wanting advice on more ambitious projects, the event organisers will also be showing off six hand-built, narrow gauge steam engines.

"Entry to the event is free with gardens admission or membership, with all dads enjoying half-price admission to the gardens."