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Summertime Past

MRW Digest
Joined: October 30th, 2007, 10:37 pm

July 31st, 2008, 9:06 am #1

Summertime Past... the whiff of internal combustion power

A personal look, with Colin Peake

Somewhere out there, no doubt, there are miniature railway 'purists' who can only bear to look at the most pristine steam locomotives. I have yet to actually meet one, but I'm sure they might exist...

In the summer season of day trips and holidays I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the unsung heros of the miniature railway field, the internal combustion locos. We find them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some steam outline, others based on real diesel locos, some truly miniatures, and others figments of their designer's (sometimes vivid) imaginations.

So here are some holiday memories from the various cameras I have owned though the years, varying from my original Halina compact through to my first Olympus digital. Many of the photos are from the East Midlands and Yorkshire as these are the areas within easiest reach for day trips from home!

Konigswinter heads tender first from Lakeside to Kingsway at Cleethorpes in the summer of 1993 (Colin Peake)

Starting on the Lincolnshire coast, nearly fifteen years ago in the early 1990s the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway had recently taken over the former Cleethorpes Miniature Railway, still uniquely gauged at 14 ½ inches. Liquid Petroleum Gas was the fuel of choice and 'Konigswinter' and 'Ross Castle' were rebuilds of the original Severn Lamb 'Rio Grande' locomotives. 'Konigswinter' is seen here on my first visit to the line (some will say it obviously left an impression…) and was later rebuilt as a steam outline tank loco and can today be found at Windmill Farm in Lancashire.

Volunteer a home built steam outline 0-4-0 on the first incarnation of the LLR at Kirton Lindsey (Colin Peake)

Cleethorpes wasn't alone in Lincolnshire with its home-brewed internal combustion engines. The 10 ¼ inch gauge Lincolnshire Light Railway operated from two bases during it’s lifetime, firstly a simple line at Kirton Lindsey in the north of the county and then a more extensive line at Burgh-le-Marsh near Skegness. The locomotives were built and rebuilt by the railway in its own workshops, eventually building up into a fleet of two steam outline and one 'diesel' outline locomotive.

The second incarnation of the LLR at Burgh le Marsh near Skegness. Note the 2ft gauge stock stored on the adjacent property (Colin Peake)

Due to family circumstances the line and associated museum subsequently closed, with the line later rebuilt at the ill-fated Transperience museum in Bradford before that too closed. Today the stock is believed to be in store, however the remains of 'Gat', the diesel outline loco seen outside the shed, have recently been saved by a MRW Forum member for restoration and are now home in Lincolnshire.

The Mablethorpe Miniature Railway seen in 2005, the logo is a steam outline bogie design! (Colin Peake)

Unusual locomotive design must be in the Lincolnshire air. Fast-forwarding from the 1990s to 2005 the Mablethorpe miniature railway is seen on 3rd September. This short 7 ¼ inch gauge line is located in Queen's Park in the town and is operated by an unusual steam outline locomotive. Perhaps not one of the purist but recorded here all the same! A return visit in 2007 found things largely the same, the main difference being a repaint for the loco, renamed 'Lewis'.

The Mardyke Deltic at Belton House in the early days of National Trust ownership (Colin Peake)

More conventional locomotive design can be found in the south of the county at Belton House near Grantham, where the National Trust operates a short 7 ¼ inch gauge line using stock from a line that once ran in Wyndham Park in the town. This line opened in 1979, coming into the ownership of the Trust several years later. I can recall seeing two steam locomotives in the shed on my first visit at a young age, one was a LNER A3 and the other I believe was based on a Festiniog design. My trips on this line have always been behind the Mardyke Deltic that was the mainstay here for many years. A subsequent look in the shed whilst on a school trip in the late 1980s found only another diesel loco.

Mickey seen at Wonderland back in 2003. The park has recently been taken over by the owners of TwinLakes park in Leicestershire and renamed Wheelgate Park (Colin Peake)

Heading north and west into Nottinghamshire, a very unusual line is located at Wheelgate Park (formerly Wonderland) at Farnsfield near Mansfield. The rail section is heavy for 7 ¼ inch gauge and the loco, 'Mickey', a Roger Greatrex 4w-2PH locomotive built in 1999, sports fake coupling rods and synchronised sound effects! There is an attractive station area where the run-around procedure is also unusual - the train is propelled out of the station, the loco turned on a turntable and into a siding, and the carriages return to the platform by gravity. Who needs loops?

Little David seen at Hall Lays Park in 2003 (Richard Peake)

Loops are also absent at the Hall Leys Park railway in Matlock, where the whole line is only 200 yards long, built to the now quite rare 9 ½ inch gauge. This line is operated by 'Little David', a 6wDH built by Allcock/Coleby Simkins which is the sole motive power. Steam power, in the form of a Battison built pacific, used to operate here in the past and also on other railways in the Matlock area.

Before it's naming in more recent years, the Chesterfield Severn Lamb is seen in 2003 (Colin Peake)

Derbyshire unusually retains two miniature lines operated in public parks by local authorities. At Queen's Park in Chesterfield a Severn Lamb 2-6-0DH locomotive (works no. 77-4-88) operates on a 10 ¼ inch gauge circuit around the boating lake. This loco started life as 'Lady of the Lake' at the Bickington Steam Railway but is now named 'Puffin' Billy'. This is the second permanent railway at the park, the original line used a former BR trackbed alongside the park to provide a point to point run. The trackbed of the original line is now a roadway, although the same stock shed is still in use, connected to the current circuit by a spur almost as long as the running line at Matlock.

The Alan Keef 0-6-0DH seen soon after introduction at Pavilion Gardens, Buxton (Colin Peake)

The Spa town of Buxton is home to the other Derbyshire municipal line. The restored Pavilion Gardens have been host to a railway for many years. The original 10 ¼ inch gauge line was closed and replaced with a well engineered 12 ¼ gauge line with a new Alan Keef 0-6-0DH locomotive and stock as part of the wider park regeneration project.

The Severn Lamb 'Rio Grande' at Twycross Zoo in 2005, the line in the foreground leads to the locomotive shed (Colin Peake)

Hoping county once more we come to Twycross Zoo near Leicester, home to a standard Severn-Lamb 'Rio Grande' 2-8-0DH (works number 22.2.83). This is used on a sharply curved and steeply graded figure-of-eight 10 ¼ gauge gauge line, which incorporates a girder bridge over itself in shades of the Festiniog railway! A short spur leads to the loco shed. This line was originally laid to 7 ¼ inch gauge by Cromar White but was re-gauged on the same formation to accommodate the new rolling stock in 1983.

Heading northwards to Yorkshire two lines made an impression on me as a child, both in the Rippon area.

The original Severn Lamb 'Rio Grande' at Lightwater Valley (Colin Peake)

At Lightwater Valley a visit in 1990 found the Severn Lamb 'Rio Grande' working on the mile long circuit. This locomotive was for many years the workhorse of the line, whilst the collection of historic steam locomotives were available for the high days and holidays. Sadly the steam locomotives moved on in more recent years, whilst the original Severn Lamb locomotive eventually became in need of repair and was supplemented by a newer machine from rival park Flamingoland!

Countess de Grey on the Newby Hall Railway in the days before the GNER makeover (Colin Peake)

The other side of Ripon lies the stately home of Newby Hall, where a miniature railway was laid out by Cromar White in the late 1970s. Originally equipped with a steam 'Royal Scot' this was later joined by a Severn Lamb i/c loco which took on the brunt of the work for many years. More recently it has been joined by an older Severn Lamb based on the British Railways 'Western' class. The older locomotive, converted to run on LPG, received a makeover into the colours of main line operator GNER in later years, with the demise of that operator, will it get a National Express makeover next?

Thankyou for bearing with me through my photographic journey, wherever you go this summer, do not ignore the internal combustion power on our miniature railways!

Small World Revisited is taking a break this month, but will return in September.
Miniature Railway World Digest
Edited by Colin Peake

Joined: May 27th, 2007, 4:12 pm

July 31st, 2008, 3:17 pm #2

Congratulations Colin, another cracker of a roundup!


Murray Tremellen
Joined: December 5th, 2006, 5:58 pm

July 31st, 2008, 7:41 pm #3

Aye, very good work :) Personally, my preference is for steam, but it is true that we must not ignore the I/C engines...they are tomorrow's history after all, so we need to record them now.

Joined: November 2nd, 2007, 6:25 pm

July 31st, 2008, 9:53 pm #4

Another great digest Colin! IC engines continue to play a large part at cclr!
"Humans are so smart, they dont even need a meteorite to destroy themselves, like the stupid dinosaurs did!"

NYMR Fireman - "More in the back end!"

Joined: January 7th, 2007, 8:13 pm

July 31st, 2008, 10:10 pm #5

DevilDrummer wrote:Another great digest Colin! IC engines continue to play a large part at cclr!
I think nearly all commercial concerns (Rudyard Lake is the exception that springs to mind, though I/C power is available there) rely heavily on I/C power, at least for shunting purposes or support for the steam locomotives during busy periods.


Dom Greenop
"There's no such thing as sanity, and that's the sanest fact" M. Knopfler, 1985

Joined: August 12th, 2007, 11:36 am

August 2nd, 2008, 12:39 am #6

Another excellent production Colin. Congratulations.

Many small children do not even know the difference between steam and IC.

If they can tell a real steam engine from an IC look-alike, they often prefer the latter, because it does not do unexpected things like blow off its safety valve, release the drain cocks, etc.

The main advantage from an operational point of view is the start up time!

When I had a BR cab pass, I cannot say that any drivers that I talked to wanted to exchange their air-con cab for a steam loco. footplate! There may have been a few, but I just never met them.
David Barnes

Bure Valley Railway - The 15" gauge railway with powerful steam locomotives.
Trains between Wroxham & Aylsham in Norfolk.
Daily services between 24th March and 28th October 2018.
Please look up the BVR website, for more details.

Joined: October 16th, 2007, 5:49 pm

August 2nd, 2008, 4:37 pm #7

I owned the deltic from Belton House and restored it in 2000, sadly I had sell it a couple of years latter due to pesonal cirumstances.

It was quite a powerful loco and drove to all wheels via propshafts. It was powered by a 5hp Briggs and Stratton petrol engine, I planned to convert it to diesel Hydraulic, but it never materialised.