Monthly Archives: Jan 2020

The Garstang and Knott End Railway – Part 1

The area across the River Wyre from Fleetwood was, for many years, quite isolated. There was a ferry across the river to Fleetwood, which still operates in the 21st century, otherwise, narrow un-metalled roads had to suffice.

The local community, particularly those with agricultural interests, were determined to have a railway. The line was built between Garstang and Pilling by those local agricultural interests to develop unproductive land. It had been intended to continue to Knott End but the company ran out of money. It eventually opened between Garstang and Pilling in 1870. [2]

In 1898 the Knott End Railway was authorised to continue to Knott End; the extension opened in 1908.

Until around the turn of the 20th century the line operated in the control of the receivers having had a couple of years lying dormant as a result of significant overspend during construction. [1: p68] However, by 1908 the line was solvent. [1: p69] For much of the life of the line, it operated as two separate companies but using the same rolling stock. [1: p70]

Enough income was forthcoming to allow a branch to be constructed to serve the Saltworks at Stalmine Moss. [1: p69] Salt extraction became a dominant industry in the area from 1890, ”and the railway conveyed some remarkable tonnages of salt (outward) and coal (inward, for power).” [2]

Ultimately the line did not survive beyond the 1960s. Passenger traffic ceased in the 1930s although Scott-Morgan points out that excursion traffic continued in the summer months. He goes on to say that in 1950, ”British Railways closed the line to goods traffic between Knott End and Pilling. The remainder of the branch was often worked by Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 tender locomotives and, strangely, Stanier Black 5 4-6-0s on four or five wagon goods trains. Final closure came on 31st July 1963, and the track was lifted shortly after.” [1: p70]

I am aware of two books of substance which have been written about the line. The first was initially published by the Oakwood Press in the 1960s. Its most recent incarnation was printed in the mid-1980s. [4]

A much more recent contribution was made by Dave Richardson in his book entitled, ‘The Pilling Pig’. It was published by the Cumbrian Railways Association in 2018. [5]

Dave Richardson was able to unearth more information in the 21st century than R.W. Rush and M.R.C. Price had available to them in the 1960s. Nonetheless, Dave Richardson comments: “Given the limited sources of information and facilities for research available at that time, the [earlier] book represented a considerable achievement.” [5: p5]

Both books provide excellent plans, maps and drawings. I particularly appreciated the colour station plans in Dave Richardson’s book. [5]

Both texts describe the line travelling East to West. I plan to do so from West to East. This is the way in which the line would first have been encountered by holiday-makers from Blackpool and Fleetwood. I guess that the railway prioritised passenger traffic coming over on the ferry from Fleetwood. This is shown by the station facilities at Knott End which were not rivalled by any other station on the line.

The Line

As we have noted, there was a relatively substantial terminus station at Knott End. The extract from the OS 25” Map below shows the station and it’s approaches. [3] The station opened with the line in 1908. It closed to passenger traffic in 1930 and goods traffic in 1950. [2][8]The station is long-gone. Quail Holme Road now extends into an estate of 1960s bungalows. Knott End Cafe sits on the site of the old passenger facilities at the North end of the Station site. It appears to be built on the footprint of the old station building, possibly with an extension at the front.Knott End Cafe.A view of the Cafe building from the Northeast. It seems as though the modern structure was built on the foundations of the old. Older brickwork seems to make up the plinth and a number of courses close to the corners of the building.

A large car park and private housing covers much of the rest of the station area as can be seen in the Google Earth satellite image below.The line left Knott End gradually swinging round to an easterly trajectory. It passed the old Quail Holme which was North of the line and Hackensall Hall to the South of the line, and then crossed Hackensall Road on the level. There was a crossing keepers cottage on the North side of the line.The line crossed Hackensall Road at the point where it became a private access road to Hackensall Hall. The crossing was immediately in front of the location of the modern road signs above (24th January 2020).Looking West along the route of the old railway line (24th January 2020).Looking East along the old line. The route goes through the garden of the last bungalow on Hackensall Road which is built on the site of the old Crossing Keeper’s Cottage. An early postcard showing Hackensack Hall (24th January 2020).A satellite image of Hackensall Hall in the 21st century.

A short distance further on, the old railway crossed Whinney Lane at a level-crossing as well. No keepers cottage was provided here.This extract from Google Earth shows the alignment of the old railway running East-West and crossed by Hackensall Road and the extension of Whinney Lane. This length of the line is now a public right of way. Quail Holme was demolished to make way for the housing estate which is visible on the top left of the satellite image. New New Farm is on the right of the image.

To the East of Whinney Lane and a little beyond New Hey Farm a private siding used to exist which for a time provided excellent income for the line. The siding served Preesall Salt Mines. The mines were owned by the United Alkali Co. Ltd and traffic from the mines was marshalled in the sidings at Knott end before transporting across the railway network. The siding opened in 1912. [4: p22] As a result of this traffic the line was solvent for a number of years. Sadly with the advent of the First World War mist of the income was taken by the Government. After the war, the line was included in the LMS estate and under its watch the LMS managed to upset the United Alkali Co. in negotiations over cartage rates. The result was that, in 1925, the United Alkali Co. installed a pipeline under the River Wyre to another of their sites on the outskirts of Fleetwood (Burn Naze) and terminated their arrangement with the railway company. [4: p25] It seems as though the siding remained in place until 1934. The OS Map extract below [3] shows the mineral railway which remained for a time linking the mine, the jetty at the Wyre and the pumping station south of the village of Preesall. Evidence of the link to the Garstang and Knott End line had disappeared by the time surveys were undertaken for the OS Map. Dave Richardson provides a map of its route in his book. [5: p95]Interestingly, a pumping station from the Preesall Salt Mines and its associated boreholes remain evident to the Northeast of Preesall Station on another OS Map extract from the same series below .

Parrox Hall was then passed to the North of the line, with Curwens Hill Farm to the South. Parrox Hall is one of the oldest family homes in Lancashire with a history stretching back at least 600 years. [7]Parrox Hall.By the time that trains passed under the road bridge into Preesall Station they were travelling due East. The road bridge was expensive to construct. Given that it is the only structure over the line and given the extensive embankments required, it may well have been better for the line if an at-grade crossing had been used. The next two OS Map extracts below show the track layout, and the satellite images show the site in the 21st century.The village of Preesall was to the South of the Station. It and the station are shown in the OS Map extract immediately below as they were in the early 20th century, and on the satellite image as they are in the early 21st century.Preesall Station opened in 1908 , lost its passenger service in 1930 and finally closed to all traffic in 1950. [8] A passing loop was provided on the North side of the main line by 1910. [5: p74] A two-track goods yard was on the South side of the line.

The station access road is shown in the picture below as it was on 24th January 2020.The goods facilities are now redeveloped as an egg-packing plant.An egg-packing plant now occupies the site of the old station’s goods yard. The main running line of the old railway followed what is now a line of large trees behind the factory. The view above is taken from Google Streetview.Looking West back along the formation of the old line towards Knott End from the B5377 (24th January 2020).This view from Google Streetview shows the B5377 looking Southeast in the 21st century towards what was the crown of the road over the railway bridge. The opening in the hedge to the right of the image is the footpath down to rail level. The footpath extends in a Westerly direction towards Knott End.The footpath runs down a slope to join the original rail formation (24th January 2020).

The RAILSCOT website has a series of five pictures from this location which are copyright protected and which are worth viewing on their site. [9]

The small lake on the North side of the line is what remains of the gravel pit excavated by the contractor during the construction of the line. This was used to supply ballast to the work undertaken on the extension between Pilling and Knott End. Dave Richardson notes that the “station had the dubious distinction of languishing in a semi-completed state from January 1890 until work recommenced in the extension at the end of 1907.” [5: p73]This panorama shows the small lake which was on the North side of Preesall Station and the station site itself. The old mainline and loop are now heavily covered in trees (24th January 2020).

Preesall station’s two goods sidings came directly off the main line with no headshunt. “One ran behind the passenger platform to serve a small goods shed and loading bank. The 1923 LMS report says that the shed was built of timber, but photographs show that it was of … corrugated iron construction, probably wood-framed and on a brick base. The loading bank was equipped with a crane having a capacity of two-tons.” [5: p 74]

The next crossing was at Sandy Lane, shown on the OS Map below.The Crossing Keeper’s Cottage was on the North side of the line, West of Sandy Lane.The old line continued East from Sandy Lane across what are, in the 21st century, open fields.The line passed South of Bourbles Farm and on toward Green Dick’s Lane.The Crossing Keeper’s Cottage was once again to the Northwest of the Level Crossing. The road crossed the old line at a sharp angle as can be seen on the OS Map extract above. The cottage is own in the Google Streetview image below.On my visit in January 2020 the skies were more leaden but the two images below look back along the line towards Knott End to the West, and forward in the direction of Pilling and Garstang to the East.This picture looks West along the side of what was the crossing keeper’s cottage but gives very little idea other route of the old line to the West. (24th January 2020).Taken from a point slightly to the South of the previous image, this picture allows a glimpse back down the route of the old line (24th January 2020).This final image at the location of Green Dick’s Crossing looks East. The old line passed through the trees to the left of the open gate (24th January 2020).

From Green Dick’s Crossing the line continued in a generally easterly direction, crossing first Lamb’s Lane and then Carr Lane Crossing.At Lamb’s Lane the crossing keeper’s cottage was to the Southeast of the Crossing.The building on the site of the old crossing keeper’s cottage at Lamb’s Lane (24th January 2020).Looking back West along the old line from the site of Lamb’s Lane Crossing (24th January 2020).Looking East along the route of the old line. The modern gates will be a couple of metre a east of the old crossing gates (24th January 2020).At Carr Lane the Cottage was to the Northeast of the Crossing.The Cottage was a substantial older brick structure which appears to have been extended in good-keeping with the original structure. The old line passed to the right of the modern garage (24th January 2020).Looking West from Carr Lane. The formation of the old line is approximately under the plastic wrapped bales in the picture. The house just visible on the right was built long after the closure of the line (24th January 2020).

Beyong Carr Lane the old line gradually swung round from an East-Northeast alignment to a East-Southeast alignment, passing to the North of Fold Houses and approaching Pilling.Pilling Station was the one time terminus of the line. Finances initially only permitted construction from the West Coast mainline as far as Pilling. For the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century, locomotives ran round their trains at Pilling and in doing so blocked the road junction to the West of the station.

The Crossing Keeper’s Cottage was to the Southeast of the crossing.One of the early locomotives on the Garstang to Knott End line. This is either Hope or Farmers’ Friend at Pilling about 1890. [10]The saddle tank in the picture above has been called ‘The Pilling Pig’, the wooden model has been called ‘The Piglet’. They are sited to the West of the site of The level crossing at Pilling. [11]  They stand at the entrance to the Fold House caravan park. The saddle tank is ex-NCB Mountain Ash Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST No 1885 of 1955. It took three days to be transported to the site by road in 2001, was lifted into position over the trees and then restored and named Pilling Pig. [12]The Fold House Caravan Park is in the top left of the satellite image. The old line ran through the modern caravan park. The old station site is on the right side of the image. The old level-crossing is about a third into the image from the right of the picture.This loco was used on the line. It was a Saddle Tank and so has some similarity to the locomotive on display at the entrance to the caravan park. It is Farmer’s Friend (or “Pilling Pig”), an 1875 Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST and the third locomotive on the line.

The road crossing at the West end of Pilling Station. The original branch terminated here with the headshunt for passenger locos at the station crossing the road junction. The crossing keeper’s cottage can be seen on the South side of the line on the East side of the road junction on the above map.

We finish this leg of the journey from Knott End to the West Coast mainline with a view looking across the location of the old level crossing into the old station site.Looking East into the site of Pilling Station. A house has been built over the old line. The Crossing Keeper’s Cottage is still present on the right hand side of the photograph (24th January 2020).


1. John Scott-Morgan; British Independent Light Railways; p68-70.

2., accessed on 1st January 2020.

3., accessed from 2nd January 2020 to 26th January 2020.

4. R.W. Rush & M.R.C. Price; The Garstang and Knott End Railway; Oakwood Press No. 23, Headington, Oxford, 1985.

5. D. Richardson; The Pilling Pig; Cumbrian Railways Association, Amadeus Press, Cleckheaton, 2018.

6., accessed on 22nd January 2020.

7., accessed on 21st January 2020.

8., accessed on 22nd January 2020.

9., accessed on 22nd January 2020.

10., accessed on 28th January 2020.




British Railways: 1948 – Part 2

We all know that nationalisation of the UK’s railways took place on 1st January 1948.

It is interesting to ask when the idea was first promoted. There were, after all, two periods of effective nationalisation prior to 1948. Both of the two world wars saw UK railways under government control. ……….

So, was the idea of nationalisation first thought of in the preparations for the major conflict which was looming in the early part of the 20th century?

When conflict was declared on 4th August 1914, the Railway Executive Committee, which had been formed in 1912 as an intermediary between Government and the 120 private railway companies, moved swiftly to take control of the network. Within 24 hours of the start of the conflict, the Committee used the powers of the Regulation of the Forces Act 1871 to secure its ascendancy. Direct, day-to-day operations were still the remit of the railway companies but, as Jones explains in ‘The Nation’s Railway‘, “the remuneration for the owners was fixed by the government, which could secure whatever priorities it required for different classes of traffic, a facility with economic as well military significance.” [1: p12] Clearly, this mechanism was already in the mind of the Committee before the start of the conflict.

We know that David Lloyd George was sympathetic to trade union calls for nationalisation of the railway network. He was prime minister from 1916 to 1922. [1: p16] His plan was opposed by Andrew Bonar Law who was the then leader of the Conservative party and followed Lloyd George as prime minister. Bonar Law favoured a grouping of companies into regional monopolies. This was enshrined in the Railways Act 1921 and postponed any thoughts of nationalisation.

Speaking of this time in the development of the railways, Wikipedia tells us that, “during the First World War the railway network was taken under government control and run by the Railway Executive Committee of the Government. This revealed some advantages in running the railways with fewer companies, and after the war it was widely agreed that the required development of the rail network could not be achieved under the conditions that had existed before the war. The nationalisation of the railways, which had been mooted by William Ewart Gladstone as early as the 1830s, was considered, but was rejected by the government and the owners of the rail companies. A compromise was created in the Railways Act 1921. Under this act, almost all of the hundreds of existing rail companies were grouped together into four new companies.” [2]

Back to my question … Was it in the period from 1912 to 1921 that nationalisation was first considered? Or was it earlier?

It appears that the matter was seriously considered much earlier than this. In the midst of the railway mania of the 1840s, it was, surprisingly, the Conservative government of Robert Peel that first proposed nationalisation as a solution to specific problems in the railway industry. The Railway Regulation Act, 1844  was designed to “force the railways to reduce charges in the interests of the whole body of capitalist manufacturers and traders, by holding over their heads the threat of nationalisation.” [1: p8]

W.E. Gladstone

The Act was promoted by W.E. Gladstone, then a Conservative Minister and President of the Board of Trade. He “threatened British railway companies with a state takeover of they did not cut fares for poorer sections of society.” [1: p7]

His threat was the secondary purpose of the 1844 Act. It “enshrined in law the requirement to provide affordable ticket prices for the poorer sections of society, to enable them to travel to find work. … Gladstone’s Act … stipulated that one train with provision for carrying third class passengers, should run on every line, every day, in each direction, stopping at every station, with a fare of no more than a penny a mile and up to 56lb of luggage per passenger carried free of charge. The average speed should be not less than 12mph, and third class passengers should be protected from the weather and be provided with seats.” [1: p8]

Ian McLean asserted, in a paper about the history of regulation in the UK, that “Gladstone’s bill of 1844 was ‘a personal rather than a departmental measure’ and he persevered with it despite the ‘indifference to hostility’ of the rest of the Cabinet … He argued that the need for regulation arose ‘owing to the great and almost unparalleled extent of capital unemployed’ in Britain. Early railways had seemed to be dubious investments. By 1844 they had proved themselves technically and economically and were earning large dividends. Therefore there was a sudden rush to promote new schemes, and the Private Bill Office had more railway bills in hand than ever before. Gladstone did not think that the entry of new railway companies would bring the railway business into competitive equilibrium. Rather, if Parliament were to allow competing routes between the same towns, ‘it would afford facilities to exaction … an increase of the evil, … a mere multiplication of monopoly’ (Hansard 3rd series vol. 72, cols 232-6).” [3]

So, Gladstone proposed, among other things, a power to cap the rates of new railways after a period of years, to a level such that their dividends would be held at 10% of the value of their issued capital, and a power to nationalise any such lines after the same period of time.

The Act’s provision for nationalisation was not invoked. However, it remained as a possibility which the government could use if circumstances were right, or if railway companies failed to deliver on promises made in the future.

It seems as though the events of 1947 and 1948 were part of a long political saga. As we know, those events were in no way the end of the story!


  1. Robin Jones; The Nation’s Railway: Birth, Beeching and Beyond; Morton’s Media Group, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, 2017. 
  2., accessed on 23rd January 2020.
  3. Iain McLean; The origin and strange history of regulation in the UK: three case studies in search of a theory; Paper for ESF/SCSS Exploratory Workshop: The Politics of Regulation, Barcelona, November 2002;, accessed on 23rd January 2020.

Unusual Locomotives and Railcars – Part 2

Some further examples of unusual locomotives and railcars.

1. A First Michelin Pneumatic-Tyred Railcar (Type No.9)

The 1973 Railway World Annual edited by Alan Williams contained an article by W.T. Thornwell entitled, “Forward from Steam,” which featured a number of different proposals for developing passenger and freight services in the 1930s. One of the experimental vehicles which could be seen on British rails was the Michelin Pneumatic-Tyred Railcar. A picture appears in the Railway World Annual © M.W. Earley  [1: p81]

Whether these railcars were small is perhaps a moot point, their appearance was certainly unusual as far as the UK was concerned. As far as I can ascertain, the railcars were trialed at two different locations in the UK.

The GWR put one through its paces between Banbury and Wolverhampton. The LMS used the route between Bletchley and Oxford. Neither company was sufficiently impressed by the trials to order one of the units. It appears that the LMS did go on to trial other railcars as a result. [2][3]

The Commercial Motor Magazine carried an article about this railcar on 16th February 1932, entitled, ”The Michelin Railcar in England.” [9]  The article is full of praise for the railcar and somewhat exaggerates its top speed at 92 mph. Perhaps that should have read kph?

There is an excellent discussion about this railcar on the Disused Stations Website ( [10]  It is surprising that the railcar is featured on a page about Cambridge Station as it is very unlikely that it ever visited Cambridge. Nonetheless, the detail provided about the railcar is excellent.


2. Guinness Factory Narrow Gauge Locos and their Standard Gauge conversion vehicle.

I have written about these locomotives elsewhere. [4] A series of small locomotives were purchased to move a variety of goods and produce around the brewery site in Dublin. Once the decision had been taken to use a narrow gauge rail system across the St. James’s Gate site, the basic system was laid between 1873 and 1877 under the supervision of Samuel Geoghegan who joined the brewery engineering staff in 1872 at the age of 28 and rose to the position of Head Engineer in 1875. The track gauge was settled at 1ft 10in, the loading gauge was to have a headway of six feet and a maximum width of five feet, and the maximum gradient was to be not steeper than 1 in 40. [6]

Two years after construction of the line had started, the first of the narrow gauge locomotives was delivered. This was a small Sharp Stewart 0−4−0 saddle tank costing £445, with inside cylinders (unusual for a narrow gauge locomotive) and numbered ‘1’ in the narrow gauge locomotive stock. It weighed only about two tons and proved to be inadequate for the work. One problem encountered with it was maintenance of the motion, which, being very near the ground, was inaccessible whilst the locomotive was on the road. Later, as more engines appeared on the scene, No.1 was used only for hauling the visitors’ special passenger train, and it was eventually withdrawn from service in 1913. [5][6]

In the following year, 1876, two locomotives were obtained from Stephen Lewin, of Poole, Dorset, at a cost of £366 each; they carried numbers 2 and 3 and were named HOPS and MALT respectively.

These locomotives were geared and had large flywheels, similar to steam rollers. Weighing about five tons each they were more powerful than No.1, but repair costs were high, they  damaged the track and were slow and troublesome in operation. [5][6]

1878 saw two new arrivals, Sharp Stewart 0−4−0 side tank engines weighing six tons each and having outside cylinders. As they survived until 1925, they must have had a certain measure of success. [5][6]

After this Geoghegan designed his own locomotives. These were also an 0−4−0 side tank engine with horizontally mounted cylinders. An IRS article says that the cylinders were ”situated above the marine-type boiler driving through a dummy crankshaft and vertical connecting rods, which in turn drove the wheels. Instead of the cylinders being bolted to the boiler, they were fixed to the frames which were carried the full height of the locomotive above the top of the boiler. The side tanks were also attached to the frames. Another novel feature was the independent spring frame which consisted of eight steel leaves in pairs, two pairs on each side of the locomotive and one pair each above and below the axleboxes. It was attached to the front and back stays, so that by removing the pins and connecting rods, and with the locomotive lifted, the spring frame could be wheeled out from beneath the locomotive to receive attention and maintenance. The general layout of these engines was one of accessibility for repair but with maximum protection from dirt.” [5][6] Geoghegan’s drawing is shown in the image above. [5]

Ellison, the author of the IRS article, says that a “prototype locomotive was built in 1882 by the Avonside Engine Company, of Bristol, at a cost of £848, and numbered ‘6’ in the locomotive stock, This was also the last of Guinness’s narrow gauge steam locomotives to be built in England, all others being built by William Spence, of the Cork Street Foundry and Engineering Works, in Dublin. This firm built locomotives 7 to 9 in 1887, 10 to 12 in 1891 and 13 to 15 in 1895. A further four, the largest single order for these engines, were turned out in 1902, whilst 20 and 21 were delivered in 1905. 22 entered traffic in 1912 and the last two finally appeared in 1921. No.6 was withdrawn in 1936 but all the others survived the Second World War and lasted until the introduction of diesel locomotives.” [6]

Locomotive  No. 15. [7]

Locomotives Nos. 22 & 23. [8]

Thompson describes the first of these locos as being “rather odd-looking. To solve the dirt problem it had a heavy box-like frame with the two cylinders mounted on the top horizontally. Their valve gear drove vertical connecting rods which engaged the wheels below. The boiler was inside the “box” with the funnel barely visible. The side tanks were an integral part of the frame.” [5]

The Irish standard gauge lines on the St. James’s Gate site dated from the late 1870s or early 1880s. It connected the brewery with what was at the time known as Kingsbridge goods yard, and at its greatest extent possessed about two miles of track, out of the brewery’s one-time overall mileage of ten. Ellison says: “The line started at the loading and unloading banks and then ran out of the premises and along the public highway for about 500 yards to the goods yard. Compared with the narrow gauge lines, this section had a largely level route, as Kingsbridge yard and the lowest part of the brewery, where the line started, were much the same height above the river. This section of line along the public road was laid in granite setts, rather in the manner of a street tramway, right up to the time of closure. Probably unique in Ireland the rail used was of the centre-grooved type on which the wagons ran on their wheel flanges instead of their treads, whilst another notable feature was the unusual points necessary with this type of rail, wherein the whole rail was moved like a stub point.” [6]

Initially horses were used to convey wagons on the broad gauge, but from 1888, hauling and shunting was undertaken by narrow gauge locomotives mounted on unique vehicles called “haulage wagons”, another of Geoghegan’s inventions.

A narrow gauge locomotive in a haulage wagon. [7]

“The way in which the haulage wagons functioned was most interesting. A narrow gauge locomotive was lifted by an hydraulic hoist which stood astride a short section of gauntletted, dual gauge track. A haulage wagon was then propelled under the narrow gauge engine and the latter lowered between the frames of the former. Both ends of the locomotive were engaged in the wagon and the wheels of the narrow gauge engine rested on rollers whose shafts were geared to the running wheels of the haulage wagon at 3 to 1 reduction.” [6][7]

A view of a haulage wagon from aboveOn the left are the broad-gauge wheels, and in the centre is one of the rollers driven by the wheels of the narrow-gauge locomotive. Immediately to its right is the casing for the 3 to 1 reduction gears. The curved bit of metal at top right was presumably to prevent fore-and-aft movement of the locomotive on the rollers. [7]

3. Colonel Stephens Railcars

These were tiny railcars which usually ran in pairs and occasionally with a filler coach. Stephens bought a number of sets based a on Ford chassis and they were known as Railmotors.

Ford Railmotor set No. 1 arrived on the Kent and East Sussex Light Railway in 1922, featuring in the Commercial Motor Magazine of 12th December 1922. [11] It came from Edmonds of Thetford. The bodywork was made by Eaton Coachworks of Cringleford. The seating capacity was 20 in each car. Later models had the same capacity in seating but some design differences. Set No. 1 can be seen in the picture below. Compared with the locomotive, it is small!

Railmotor No. 1 on the K&ESR at Tenterden in 1923, sitting alongside an Ilfracombe goods loco  (c) Colonel Stephens Museum. In its early years the railmotor sets had headlamps either side of the radiator. Later a headlamp was sited on the roof. [12]


1. W.T. Thornwell; Forward From Steam; in A. Williams; Railway World Annual; Ian Allan, Sheperton, Surrey, 1973, p76-84.

2., accessed on 2nd January 2020.

3., accessed on 2nd January 2020.


5., accessed on 26th April 2019.

6., accessed on 26th April 2019.

7., accessed on 27th April 2019.

8., accessed on 27th April 2019.

9., accessed non 3rd January 2020.

10., accessed on 3rd January 2020.

11., accessed on 27th July 2019.

12., accessed on 27th July 2019.

Unusual Locomotives and Railcars – Part 1

Across the railway network, and particularly on some of the light railways which sprang to life after the Light Railways Act 1896, [1] there were a number of unusual locomotives and railcars.

One of these was ‘Gazelle’ which was fabricated by Dodman’s in King’s Lynn. [2] Gazelle was eventually used on the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway and remained there until closure of that line before being relocated as a static display. The Railway World Annual of 1981 has a picture of Gazelle at Longmoor Camp in June 1953, © R. E. Vincent. [13] Ultimately, Gazelle was moved to the Colonel Stephens Museum at Tenterden. [3]Colonel Stephens made use of a wide range of locomotives, railcars and carriages to keep the costs of running his network of light railways to an absolute minimum. He would mix-and-match, make-do-and-mend until he was satisfied that a particular solution was appropriate for one of his lines. [4][5]

Similar experiments were undertaken on other light railways. For example, the Brill Tramway made use of a version of a road-running steam engine but of a redesign which enabled it to operate on rails. I came across the small Aveling and Porter locomotive while reading ‘British Independent Light Railways’ by John Scott-Morgan. [6][12]

Old Chainey is a chain and flywheel-driven loco built in 1872, for use on the tramway between Quainton Road and Brill.  It was not very successful, especially if loads were heavy. It lasted in service on the Tramway until 1895 when it was sold for use at Nether Heyford Brickworks in Northamptonshire, where it continued working until the Second World War. Indeed the Industrial Railway Society provides a photograph of this Locomotive a (see below) at Nether Heyford in 1936. [11]

It is now a static exhibit. It was placed, first at the London Transport Museum and then on long-term loan from the London Transport Museum to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. [6]

The locomotive was Aveling and Porter No. 807 (and became Wotton Tramway No. 1). It was nicknamed “Old Chainey” because it was noisy. It had a flywheel which drove a large-linked chain which in turn drove the wheels. [9]

It was the first steam locomotive used on the Wotton Tramway. [6]

The lightly laid track on the Tramway with longitudinal sleepers limited them to about 9 tons [7] and necessitated the use the lightest locomotives possible. [8: p13] No. 807 was the first of two locomotives converted for use on the Tramway. They cost £398 each. [8: p13] No. 807 was delivered to the Tramway in January 1872. The second loco was delivered in September of the same year. [8: p18][10: p29]

Although the two engines had a top speed of 8 miles per hour, they averaged 4 mph between Brill and Quainton Road. [8: p18]

As we have already noted, No. 807 was sold for industrial use. It appears in the adjacent image at Nether Heyford Brickworks on 11th April 1936, © G. Alliez. This image accompanies an article from ‘The Engineer’ reproduced by the Industrial Railway Society. [11]

That article, discussing  a series of tramway locomotives produced by Aveling & Porter, appeared first in the Industrial Railway Record, Volume No. 48. It talks of No. 807 in the following terms: …

Aveling & Porter 807 of 1872 is shown above “at the Nether Heyford Brickworks (Northamptonshire) of Henry Martin Ltd. The engine was one of a pair which were obtained by the Blisworth & Stowe Brick & Tile Co Ltd  Martin’s predecessors  from the Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad Co in 1894. Originally supplied in January 1872 to the Duke of Buckingham (for the Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad), 807 had a single cylinder (7¾in by 10in) and was carried on wheels of 3ft 0in diameter. … The brickworks closed in 1940 but was used as an ammunition store by the War Department. Happily, 807 survived the War, being stored until March 1951. It was then secured by the Industrial Locomotive Society, and is now on display at the Museum of British Transport, Clapham.” [11]

As noted above, it can now be found at the Buckingham Railway.


1., accessed on 1st January 2020.


3., accessed on 1st January 2020.



6., accessed on 1st January 2020.

7. Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith; Aylesbury to Rugby; Middleton Press, Midhurst, 2006.

8. Ian Melton, “From Quainton to Brill: A history of the Wotton Tramway”;  R. J., Greenaway (ed.). Underground, Hemel Hempstead: The London Underground Railway Society, 1984.

9. Bill Simpson; A History of the Metropolitan Railway; Lamplight Publications, Whitney, Oxon, 2005.

10. Bill Simpson; The Brill Tramway. Oxford Publishing, Poole, 1985.

11. The Industrial Railway Record httpsVolume No. 48, p34-38;, accessed on 1st January 2020.

12., accessed on 1st January 2020.

13. Railway Work Annual, Ian Allan, Shepperton, Surrey, 1981, p87.