Amberley Museum Railway
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (December 2016)
Polar Bear in 2006
|Dates of operation||1982–Present|
|Track gauge||2 ft (610 mm)|
|Length||500 yd (460 m)|
|Website||Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre Rail Group website|
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.
- 1 History
- 2 The Line Today
- 3 Locomotives
- 4 Passenger Stock
- 5 Gallery
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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.
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
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 1⁄4 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 were acquired: 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
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.
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 too 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
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.
Listings correct as of December 2017
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.
|Name||Works Number||Type||Gauge||Builder||Year Built||Previous Operator||Status||Notes||Image|
|Polar Bear||1781||2-4-0T||2 ft (610 mm)||W.G. Bagnall||1905||Groudle Glen Railway||In Use||Boiler Certificate expires in 2023. 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 5⁄8 in)
|Decauville||1947||L'enterprise Gagneraud||Static Display||Awaiting Overhaul. Privately Owned. Air fitted.|
|Townsend Hook||172L||0-4-0T||3 ft 2 1⁄4 in (972 mm)||Fletcher Jennings||1880||Dorking Greystone & Lime Co Ltd, Betchworth||Static display|
|23||23L||0-4-0T||1 ft 10 in (559 mm)||Wm. Spence||1920||Guinness Brewery, Dublin||Static display|
Internal combustion locomotives
|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. Privately Owned. 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||In occasional use.|
|-||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||Undergoing cosmetic restoration.|
|-||HE2208||2 ft (610 mm)||Hudson Hunslet||1941||Thakeham Tiles, Storrington||Source of spares.|
|-||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. Privately Owned.|
|-||L34521||2 ft (610 mm)||Lister||1949||Cumberland Moss Litter Industries, Carlisle||In occasional use.|
|Redland||OK6193||2 ft (610 mm)||Orenstein & Koppel||1937||Redland Pipes Ltd., Ripley||In occasional use.|
|Monty||OK7269||3 ft 2 1⁄4 in (972 mm)||Orenstein & Koppel||1936||Dorking Greystone & Lime Co Ltd, Betchworth||In occasional use.|
|The Major||OK7741||2 ft (610 mm)||Orenstein & Koppel||1937||Dorking Greystone & Lime, Betchworth||In occasional use.|
|Sonia||OK4013||2 ft (610 mm)||Orenstein & Koppel||1930||Diamond Tread (Chart) Ltd (Ashford)||In occasional use. Privately Owned.|
|-||MR872||2 ft (610 mm)||Motor Rail||1918||C V Buchan & Co Ltd||Static display.|
|'The Breadbin'||MR1381||2 ft (610 mm)||Motor Rail||1918||War Department||In occasional use.|
|No.27||MR5863||2 ft (610 mm)||Motor Rail||1934||Joseph Arnold, Leighton Buzzard||In occasional use.|
|-||MR10161||2 ft 11 in (889 mm)||Motor Rail||1950||London Brick Works, Arlesey||Static display.|
|Ibstock||MR11001||2 ft (610 mm)||Motor Rail||1956||London Brick Co., Yaxley||In use. Air fitted.|
|Burt||MR9019||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 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.|
|-||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. Privately Owned.|
|-||4||2 ft (610 mm)||Thakeham Tiles||c1946||Thakeham Tiles, Storrington||In occasional use. Privately owned.|
|-||5||2 ft (610 mm)||Thakeham Tiles||c1950||Thakeham Tiles, Storrington||In occasional use. Privately owned.|
|WD904||3403||2 ft (610 mm)||Wickham & Co||1943||MoD Eastriggs||In occasional use. Privately owned. Air piped.|
|Works Number||Gauge||Builder||Year Built||Previous Operator||Status|
|16303||2 ft (610 mm)||Brush Traction||1917||Royal Ordnance Factory||Undergoing restoration. Privately owned.|
|16306||2 ft (610 mm)||Brush Traction||1917||Royal Ordnance Factory||Dismantled, incomplete. Spares for 16303. Privately owned.|
|808||2 ft (610 mm)||English Electric||1931||Post Office Railway, London||Static Display.|
|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.|
|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.|
- 1x RAF Fauld coach. Restored in 2007. 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.
- 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.
In popular culture
The railway made an appearance in the 1985 James Bond film, A View to a Kill, 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amberley Working Museum steam locomotives.|