Amberley Museum Railway

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The Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre Railway is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway based at the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre, Amberley, West Sussex. It has a varied collection of engines and rolling stock ranging from 18 in (457 mm) gauge to 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) gauge. It operates passenger trains at the museum using a mixture of steam, internal combustion and battery-electric locomotives.

Amberley Museum Railway Collection
AmberleyMuseum.jpg
Polar Bear in 2006
Dates of operation 1982–Present
Track gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Length 500 yards
Website Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre Rail Group website

History[edit]

Pre-Preservation[edit]

Before the advent of Amberley Museum, the site was a chalk quarry operated by Pepper & Sons. The site had its own loco worked standard gauge railway, which connected with the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway at Amberley station. Over the years Peppers owned a range of locos, including Marshall and Aveling & Porter steam designs, and a Hibberd Planet petrol loco. When the site was abandoned in the late 1960s the track was lifted.

Early Days[edit]

When the museum opened in the late 1970s a small industrial railway was envisaged, operating typical narrow gauge industrial trains. The first loco to arrive on site was Hibberd Simplex 1980 from the City of Chichester Sewage Works at Apuldram. In 1982 the Thakeham Tiles company, located a few miles from the museum, donated its entire railway system including two Hudson Hunslet locos, several wagons and some track, a new conveyor system having started operation at the works. The donation was on the condition the whole lot was removed over a weekend. This was duly accomplished. Today some of the Thakeham track is still in use on non-passenger parts of the line, along with one of the locos (Hunslet 3653). The other, Hudson Hunslet 2208 is in store, having been used as a spares donor for the museum's other Hudson Hunslet locos. Also in 1982, the Brockham Museum in Surrey closed down and moved its entire stock to Amberley. This influx, including several steam locos, gave the inspiration to expand the operation to a passenger carrying line.

The Brockham Story[edit]

The story of the Brockham Museum starts in 1960, when the Dorking Greystone Lime Co. of Betchworth, Surrey, was disposing of its railway stock and the company's general manager, Major Taylerson, was keen to see the locos preserved. The London Area Group of the Narrow Gauge Railway Society purchased one of the pair of 3 ft 2 14 in (972 mm) gauge Fletcher Jennings tank locos, 'Townsend Hook'. Initially this was placed on display at Sheffield Park station on the embryonic Bluebell Railway. However this was not a particularly satisfactory arrangement and efforts were made to find an alternative home. A site was found at a disused chalk pit in Brockham, only a stone's throw from Townsend Hook's old stamping grounds at Betchworth. Townsend Hook moved there in 1962. That year the two Orenstein & Koppel diesel locos from Betchworth, no.6 'Monty' and No. 7, later named 'The Major' in honour of Major Taylerson. The Brockham Museum Trust was formed as a separate entity to the NGRS, although the NGRS retained ownership of Townsend Hook and later acquisition 'Peter' (Bagnall 2067) until the early 2000s. In 1967 the now-flagship of the museum fleet was acquired, 1905 -built Bagnall 2-4-0T 1781 'Polar Bear', from the Groudle Glen Railway. The story goes that Brockham were offered both 'Polar Bear' and her sister, 'Sea Lion', along with all the carriages for £50, but the museum couldn't raise that much money and instead purchased Polar Bear and two carriages, along with many spares from 'Sea Lion', which had been out of use since 1939 to keep 'Polar Bear' in traffic. The museum continued to expand, becoming home to most of Amberley's current collection. However by the early 1980s the limited access to the site forced a transfer away from Brockham, and Amberley was deemed the best location to move to.

The Combined Collection[edit]

A running line was built at Amberley from 1982 to 1984 running along one side of the pit between Amberley and Brockham stations. The inaugural train was hauled by Polar Bear, by that time back in steam. The Hudson Hunslet diesels 3097 and Blue Star were stalwarts of the passenger service in the 80s, until the arrival of Motor Rail Simplex 60S prototype 11001. In the mid-1980s Decauville 0-4-0WT 'Barbouilleur' entered service, and following Polar Bear's boiler being condemned around 1987, was the sole steam locomotive available until 1993. 'Polar Bear' re-entered traffic with a new boiler in 1993, and was joined that same year by 'Peter'. 'Townsend Hook' departed in 1995 to Eastleigh College for an ultimately ill-fated restoration attempt.

Expansion[edit]

The 2000s showed significant expansion for the railway. In the early 2000s it was decided WW1 Baldwin 4-6-0PT 778 'Lion', which had been in store for many years, needed an alternative home for it to be restored, as it was far to big for the sharp curves on the Amberley system. It departed for the Leighton Buzzard railway, where it is now in service. A new exhibition hall for the railway, built with lottery funding, was opened in 2003. This building also serves as a carriage shed, the carriage fleet having suffered severe deterioration when stored outside beforehand. A new running shed was also built, opening in 2005. This building serves as a dedicated operating and restoration base for the passenger steam fleet, as well as a dedicated home and charging station for the battery electric locos. The steam fleet was bolstered in 2006 by the arrival of the Hampshire Narrow Gauge Trust's Bagnall 0-4-0ST 2091 'Wendy'. The running line was extended in the 2000s, with the extension round the top of the pit to the new Cragside station opening in mid-2007. In 2008 Hunslet diesel-hydraulic 8969 'No. 12' the rest of the time entered service as the main passenger loco. Another addition was made to the steam fleet in 2009 when HNGRT's other steam loco, Quarry Hunslet 0-4-0ST 542 'Cloister' arrived. Both HNGRT locos left Amberley during Summer 2012.

The Line Today[edit]

The main line runs from Amberley station near the museum entrance along the side of the pit past the De Witt lime kilns to Brockham station, currently the only intermediate stations. From Brockham the line curves round the top of the pit and passes the running shed and ends up at Cragside station, across the pit from Brockham. The industrial (non-passenger) lines connect to the main line at Brockham station. At Amberley station there is a rarely used siding into the woodyard. Brockham has a small siding on Platform 2, as well as a former London, Brighton and South Coast Railway ticket office from Hove station. In addition there is the Betchworth Hall shed, used for the restoration of Townsend Hook, and eventually will be used as a museum to display the Dorking Greystone Lime Co. exhibits (Townsend Hook, Monty, The Major, wagons 10 and 60, and some miscellaneous items).

The railway holds its annual Gala Weekend on the second weekend of July each year, in addition to two Industrial Trains Days in April and October.

Locomotives[edit]

Listing as of March 2013.

Engines marked 'In occasional use' are generally only operated at railway special events and are usually either on display in the museum building or stored in one of the sheds or the tunnel. Locos marked 'Air Fitted/Piped' are capable of hauling passenger trains.

Steam locomotives[edit]

Name Works Number Type Gauge Builder Year Built Previous Operator Status Notes
 Polar Bear  1781 2-4-0T 2 ft (610 mm)  W.G. Bagnall  1905 Groudle Glen Railway Running in Back in service July 2013. Air fitted.
 Peter  2067 0-4-0ST 2 ft (610 mm)

(3 ft (914 mm) until 1919)

 W.G. Bagnall  1917 Cliffe Hill Quarry Co. In use Boiler Certificate expires in 2019. Air fitted.
 Barbouilleur  1126 0-4-0WT 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in)

(Nominally 2')

 Decauville  1947 L'enterprise Gagneraud Static Display Awaiting Overhaul. Privately Owned. Air fitted.
 Scaldwell  1316 0-6-0ST 3 ft (914 mm)  Peckett  1913 Scaldwell Ironstone Quarries, Northants Static display Cosmetic overhaul likely after Townsend Hook is completed.
 Townsend Hook   172L 0-4-0T 3 ft 2 14 in (972 mm)  Fletcher Jennings   1880 Dorking Greystone & Lime Co Ltd, Betchworth Undergoing cosmetic restoration Cosmetic restoration due to be completed 2014/15.
 23  23L 0-4-0T 1 ft 10 in (559 mm)  Wm. Spence  1920 Guinness Brewery, Dublin Static display

Internal combustion locomotives[edit]

Name Works Number Gauge Builder Year Built Previous Operator Status
T0001 3751 2 ft (610 mm) Baguley-Drewry 1980 RNAD Dean Hill, Wiltshire In occasional use. Air fitted.
Peldon JF21295 2 ft (610 mm) Fowler 1936 Essex Water Authority, Abberton Awaiting repair. Air fitted.
- FH1980 2 ft (610 mm) Hibberd 1936 City of Chichester Sewage Works In occasional use.
- FH3627 2 ft (610 mm) Hibberd 1953 North Bierley Sewage Works, Bradford Under repair.
- 45913 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) Hudson 1932 Midhurst Whites Ltd, Midhurst Static display.
- DM686 2 ft (610 mm) Hudswell Clarke 1948 National Coal Board, Tilmanstone Colliery Awaiting restoration.
- HE2208 2 ft (610 mm) Hudson Hunslet 1941 Thakeham Tiles, Storrington Awaiting restoration.
- HE3097 2 ft (610 mm) Hudson Hunslet 1944 Borough of Merton Sewage Works In use. Air fitted.
Blue Star Unknown 2 ft (610 mm) Hudson Hunslet Unknown Star Construction, Billingshurst In use. Air fitted.
- HE3653 2 ft (610 mm) Hunslet 1946 Thakeham Tiles, Storrington In occasional use.
No.12 HE8969 2 ft (610 mm) Hunslet 1980 BAE Bishopton, Glasgow In use. Air fitted.
- L33937 2 ft (610 mm) Lister 1949 William H Collier Ltd, Marks Tey In occasional use.
- L34521 2 ft (610 mm) Lister 1949 Cumberland Moss Litter Industries, Carlisle Stored.
Redland OK6193 2 ft (610 mm) Orenstein & Koppel 1937 Redland Pipes Ltd., Ripley In occasional use.
Monty OK7269 3 ft 2 14 in (972 mm) Orenstein & Koppel 1936 Dorking Greystone & Lime Co Ltd, Betchworth Awaiting repairs.
The Major OK7741 2 ft (610 mm) Orenstein & Koppel 1937 Dorking Greystone & Lime, Betchworth In occasional use.
- MR872 2 ft (610 mm) Motor Rail 1918 C V Buchan & Co Ltd Static display.
MR1381 2 ft (610 mm) Motor Rail 1918 War Department Static display.
No.27 MR5863 2 ft (610 mm) Motor Rail 1934 Joseph Arnold, Leighton Buzzard In occasional use.
- MR10160 2 ft 11 in (889 mm) Motor Rail 1950 London Brick Works, Arlesey Static display.
MR11001 2 ft (610 mm) Motor Rail 1956 London Brick Co., Yaxley In use. Air fitted.
Burt MR9019 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Motor Rail 1959 Burt, Boulton and Haywood Timber, Erith In occasional use.
- RR80 2 ft (610 mm) Ransomes and Rapier 1936 Chinnor Cement & Lime Co Ltd In occasional use. Previously air piped.
- RH166024 2 ft (610 mm) Ruston & Hornsby 1933 Colne Valley Water Co, Rickmansworth Dismantled, awaiting restoration.
- RH187081 2 ft (610 mm) Ruston & Hornsby 1937 City of York Sewage Department In occasional use.
Jenny 5239 2 ft (610 mm) Schöma 1991 Taylor Woodrow Greenford, Middlesex In use. Air piped.
- 4 2 ft (610 mm) Thakeham Tiles c1946 Thakeham Tiles, Storrington In occasional use.
- 5 2 ft (610 mm) Thakeham Tiles c1950 Thakeham Tiles, Storrington In occasional use.
WD904 3403 2 ft (610 mm) Wickham & Co 1943 MoD Eastriggs Awaiting repair.

Battery-electric locomotives[edit]

Works Number Gauge Builder Year Built Previous Operator Status
16303 2 ft (610 mm) Brush Traction 1917 Royal Ordnance Factory Awaiting Restoration
16306 2 ft (610 mm) Brush Traction 1917 Royal Ordnance Factory Dismantled, incomplete. Spares for 16303.
4998 2 ft (610 mm) Wingrove & Rogers 1953 Redland Brick Ltd, North Holmwood Operational. Air piped.
5031 2 ft (610 mm) Wingrove & Rogers 1953 Dismantled, source of spares for other battery electric locos.
5034 2 ft (610 mm) Wingrove & Rogers 1953 Redland Brick Ltd, North Holmwood Operational.
T8033 2 ft (610 mm) Wingrove & Rogers 1979 Redland Brick Ltd, North Holmwood Operational.

Passenger Stock[edit]

  • 1x RAF Fauld coach. Can run on its own or with the Lydd or Penrhyn coaches.
  • 2x Lydd coaches. From Lydd Ranges in Kent. Can run together as a set or with the Fauld coach to make a 3-car set.
  • 2x Penrhyn Quarry Railway coaches. Open top coaches, have to run with either the Fauld coach or one Lydd coach due to lack of a brake position or air brake reserve tanks.
  • 4x Groudle Glen Railway coaches. Usually run with Polar Bear, but can run with certain other diesel and steam locos if no other coaches are available.
  • Wickham trolley 3404. Originally trailer car for powered trolley 3403, now converted to push-pull trailer to run with battery loco 4998.
  • 1x Thorpe Park coach. Built by Alan Keef. Body frame only, new bogies are to be ordered for this coach.

Gallery[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The railway made an appearance in the 1985 James Bond film, A View To A Kill,[1] with the railway's storage tunnel appearing as the entrance to a mine. Later, engines HE3097 and 'Blue Star' were sent to Pinewood Studios along with a quantity of wagons to film scenes 'inside the mine'. Many of the railway's skip wagons still carry 'Zorin Green' livery.

In 2010 four of the museum's Hudson flat wagons were sent to Pinewood Studios for use in the film, Captain America: The First Avenger.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Image taken during the filming

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°54′02″N 0°32′10″W / 50.90056°N 0.53611°W / 50.90056; -0.53611