Ribble Steam Railway

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Coordinates: 53°45′32″N 2°45′22″W / 53.7588°N 2.7561°W / 53.7588; -2.7561

Ribble Steam Railway
5643 on the swing bridge - geograph.org.uk - 1697655.jpg
GWR 5600 Class 5643 crossing the swing bridge
Locale Preston, Lancashire, England
Terminus Riversway
Commercial operations
Name Ribble Branch Line
Built by North Union Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Operated by Ribble Steam Railway
Stations 1
Length 1 12 miles (2.4 km)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1882
Closed 1990s
Preservation history
Opened 2005
Route map
end of line with shed
Running Shed and Workshops
Museum Building
Riverside Station
Ribble Rail Shed
Lanfina Transfer Sidings
crossing over Lockside Road
Bridge over River Ribble into Marina
Exchange Sidings
limit of Ribble Steam
and Network Rail
crossing over Strand Rd
Fishergate Hill
Walton Parade bridge
Christian Rd bridge
to Preston railway station

The Ribble Steam Railway is a standard gauge preserved railway in Lancashire, in the United Kingdom. It was opened to the public on 17 September 2005, running along Preston Docks. The railway began by housing much of the collection from the previously closed Southport Railway Museum (Steamport), which was based in the old Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway engine shed at Southport (BR shed code 27C).


The project was first started in 1973, a preservation centre opened in Southport, on the Derby Road, in a refurbished Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway steam shed. However, the shed was becoming a costly burden to handle for the museum, so a relocation scheme was started. Preston Docks was chosen as the new location for the museum. Preston Docks has a large railway network, that used to serve the vast docks and quays. But when the docks closed, the railway was not used. The project finally closed the Southport Railway Museum in 1999.

The project's new site now could be re-developed with new large workshops, platforms and a museum. The first building to open was the Workshop, in 2001.[1] Locomotives could now go into the building, and more space could now be utilised. Next to the workshop, is the machine shop, built in 1978. At the other end of the workshop is the visitor centre, which contains the museum, cafe, shop and railway platform. The museum was finally completed in 2004. The collection of locomotives (44), is one of the largest collection of locomotives in the United Kingdom.[2]


Ribble Steam Railway - geograph.org.uk - 558035.jpg

The museum also operates passenger services to Strand Road Crossing and back, from its own station – Preston Riverside. The frequency of its trains are every hour, and are usually made up of two or more Mark 1 coaches and a small steam engine or diesel engine.[3] This service is only operational in the summer months.

A separate company, Ribble Rail, handles the freight traffic that uses the dock lines. Ribble Rail takes over from the DB Schenker locomotive, and carries the load – Bitumen – down to the Total plant near the Preston Riverside station.

A DB Schenker-operated train arrives at the riverside sidings near Strand Road Crossing with loaded oil tanks. The locomotive uncouples, runs round and takes the empty wagons. This process occurs very early in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

From here Ribble Rail shunts these wagons to the siding serving the nearby Total bitumen plant. After unloading, Ribble Rail returns the wagons to the riverside sidings for pick-up.


The museum is currently located in an industrial estate, and is not well publicised. There are currently plans to build a station at the Strand Road Crossing, so that the railway can utilise the more popular end of the docks. Then, instead of just a 'ride' on the train, it can be used as a 'service'. A L&YR signal box has recently been bought for the railway. It will be restored to its original condition, and put near the Preston Riverside station. There are also plans to extend the railway to the Ribble Link canal. The route would offer 1.5 miles extra to the line, although plans for this have not been finalised.[4]


Steam locomotives[edit]

The railway has a large collection of industrial steam engines and one main line locomotive.

Operational steam locomotives[edit]

  • Vulcan Works 0-4-0T No. 3271 "Vulcan" built in 1918. Visiting from Barrow Hill Roundhouse.
  • Bagnall 0-6-0ST No. 2680 "Birchenwood No. 4" built in 1942. Returned to service in February 2014. Painted to resemble "Courageous", a long lost Preston Docks engine.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 2261, 'No 6' built in 1949. Returned to steam in 2013.

Operational locos elsewhere[edit]

Steam locomotives undergoing overhaul or restoration[edit]

The Ribble Steam Railway's workshops house locomotives undergoing overhaul, restoration or stored.

  • Grant, Ritchie and Company 0-4-0ST No. 272 built in 1894. Currently in the workshop receiving much attention. The chassis is almost complete, and remedial boiler work is now underway.
  • Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST No. 1935 "Hornet" built in 1937. Wheels removed & long term overhaul commencing.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0 No. 2890 "Douglas" built in 1943. Is a converted tender locomotive from a standard Hunslet Austerity. Formerly based at the Watercress Line.
  • Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST No. 3931 "Linda" built in 1938. The chassis is largely complete, and significant boilerwork has been undertaken over the last 4 years. It is hoped that Linda may return to steam in late 2018.
  • Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST No. 1999 "North Western Gas Board" built in 1941. Replacement of the rotten platework is almost done and boiler work is next to be done. The restoration continues though no date has been fixed for completion.
  • Sentinel 4 wheeled No. 9373 "St Monans" built in 1947. Undergoing overhaul & awaiting boiler repairs. currently on hold whilst 272 is completed.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0ST No. 3793 "Shropshire" built in 1953. Undergoing overhaul with fellow Hunslet engine Respite lending it its boiler and is expected to be returned to traffic speedily.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0ST No. 3794 "Cumbria" built in 1953. Awaiting return of boiler to complete major overhaul (following completion of 5643.

Steam locomotives stored out-of-use[edit]

There are a number of locomotives stored in the yard/museum/away from Ribble.

  • Avonside 0-6-0ST No. 26 built in 1918. Stored in a non-public access shed.
  • Avonside 0-6-0ST No. 1883 built in 1922. Awaiting restoration.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-6-0ST No. 1833 built in 1924. Large Barclay Saddletank arrived from Strathspey Railway in 2012 & awaiting it's turn in the overhaul queue.
  • Borrows 0-4-0WT No. 53 "Windle" built in 1909. - Partially stripped for restoration.
  • GWR 4900 Class 4-6-0 No. 4979 "Wootton Hall" built at Swindon Works in Feb 1930. Recently been moved from Appleby heritage centre to Preston; restoration planned to commence shortly.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0ST No. 1954 "Kinsley" built in 1939. Work began on her restoration before the move to Preston, but efforts have been focussed on other locomotives since.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0ST No. 3696 "Respite" built in 1950. Stored awaiting major restoration. The boiler will shortly be installed into fellow Hunslet engine "Shropshire".
  • Hunslet 0-6-0ST No. 3855 "Glasshoughton" built in 1954. Boiler offsite awaiting attention for the replacement of the inner firebox. Chassis is in a non-public access building.
  • Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST No. 737 "Daphne" built in 1899. Stored in the yard with likely use as spares due to damage on boiler plus many seized parts.

Locomotives on display in the Museum[edit]

The following steam locomotives are on display in the museum.

  • LNWR 0-4-0ST No. 1439 built in 1862.
  • Borrows 0-4-0WT No. 48 "The King" built in 1906.
  • Avonside 0-6-0ST No. 1568 "Lucy" built in 1909.
  • L&Y 0-4-0ST No. 19 "Pug" built in 1910.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 1865 "Alexander" built in 1926. Requires boiler repairs.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0F No. 2 "Heysham" built in 1928. Recently had a cosmetic overhaul.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-ST No. 1969 "JN Derbyshire" built in 1929. Arrived at the railway in 2005.
  • Sentinel 4 wheeled No. 8024 "Gasbag" built in 1929. Boiler ticket expired in 2008, and will be stored for the time being whilst "St Monans" is restored.
  • RSH 0-4-0ST Agecroft No. 2 built in 1947. Boiler ticket expired in late 2008, and the loco will be on display in the museum until workshop space is available.

Diesel locomotives[edit]

The railway has a large collection of diesel locomotives either for shunting or use on passenger trains.

Operational diesel locomotives[edit]

  • English Electric 0-6-0DE No. NS663 built in 1956. Arrived at the railway in 2012 for varied use on bitumen trains and occasional passenger use.
  • North British 0-4-0 No. 27653 "BICC" built in 1957. Recently returned to service and operated on freight trains on the 2006 diesel gala. It is occasionally used for shunting.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0 No. D2595 built in 1959. Probably the most regular diesel locomotive on passenger trains. One of the most powerful locomotives on the line.
  • Sentinel 0-4-0DH No. 10165 "Energy" built in 1965. Sees occasional use on bitumen trains
  • Thomas Hill 0-4-0DH 160V "Stanlow No. 4" built in 1966. Recently had a repaint into green and is occasionally seen on passenger trains.
  • Sentinel 0-4-0DH No. 10282 "Enterprise" built in 1968. Sees regular use on bitumen trains
  • Sentinel 0-4-0DH No. 10283 "Progress" built in 1968. Sees regular use on bitumen trains

Diesel Locomotives under restoration / repair[edit]

  • British Railways 0-6-0DM No. D2148 built in 1960. Currently undergoing a power unit swap due to low oil pressure.
  • British Railways 0-6-0DM No. 03189 built in 1960. Currently undergoing a major overhaul (on hold whilst work completes on D2148).
  • British Railways 0-6-0DH No. D9539 built in 1960. Currently undergoing a minor overhaul (Cardan shaft replacement). Expected to return to traffic in 2013
  • Yorkshire 0-4-0DH No. 2677 "D2870" built in 1960. Currently awaiting completion of replacement clutch mechanism. Hoped to return to traffic in 2013 / 2014

Diesel Locomotives Stored awaiting repair[edit]

  • Fowler 0-4-0DM No. 21999 "Fluff" built in 1937. Owned by the Furness Railway Trust.
  • Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DM No. D629 built in 1944 "Sparky". Currently awaiting restoration.
  • Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DM No. D1031 built in 1956 "Margaret". Currently awaiting restoration.

Diesel Locomotives on display in the Museum[edit]

The following diesel and electric locomotives are on display in the museum.

  • Fowler 0-4-0DM No. 4160001 built 1952.
  • Howard 4wd No. 965 "Hotto" built in 1930.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]