Great Laxey Mine Railway

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Great Laxey Mine Railway
Locale Isle of Man
Dates of operation 1870s–Present
Track gauge 19 in (483 mm)
Length 14 mi (0.4 km)
Headquarters Laxey
Bee with a train in 2005
Ant outside the shed in 2005

The Great Laxey Mine Railway was originally constructed to serve the Isle of Man's Great Laxey Mine, a lead mine located in Laxey. The 19 in (483 mm) gauge railway runs from the old mine entrance to the washing floors along a right of way that passes through the Isle of Man's only remaining (The other being the now disused Dhoon West Quarry) railway tunnel under the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge Victorian Manx Electric Railway and the main A2 Douglas to Ramsey coast road.[1]


Although the railway began with pony haulage, a pair of steam locomotives were delivered from Stephen Lewin of Poole in 1877. Ant and Bee were 0-4-0 tank locomotives made unusually narrow, in order to fit within the adit shaft.[2] They were 4 ft 9in high and only 3 ft wide. Their two 4×6in inside cylinders had Bagnall-Price valve gear and a geared drive to the rear axle, but coupling rods between the axles. The arrangement of the water tanks was particularly unusual, being a front tank ahead of the smokebox, in order to reduce width. The boilers were launch-type, as were commonly used for small locomotives with insufficient space between the frames for a conventional firebox.[2]

Around 1905, a replacement locomotive was considered and W G Bagnall were asked for a design. This was similar to the Lewins design, but more conventional. A saddle tank was used and conventional cylinders with connecting rods to the axle. The power cylinders were however mounted inside the frames and the Bagnall-Price valvgear and slide valves mounted outside.[2] This new locomotive was never constructed, although Bagnalls did instead build two new boilers for the existing locomotives.[2] Both survived the closure of the mine, but were scrapped in 1935, some years afterwards.[2] also there is a Diesel locomotive called wasp which worked in a mine in cornwall

Restored route[edit]

Abandoned in 1929 when the mine closed, the 14 mi (0.4 km) Great Laxey Mine Railway re-opened in September 2004. Now the Ant and Bee, replicas of the Lewin steam locomotives with the same names originally built in 1877, carry passengers along a restored route once traversed by cars loaded with lead ore pulled by mules.

Laxey Browside Tramway[edit]

At the upper terminus, linking the railway to the Laxey Wheel, once operated the Laxey Browside Tramway but this has long since vanished, replaced with a car park.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Great Laxey Mine Railway
  2. ^ a b c d e Barnes, Robin (1985). "Chapter 3". Locomotives that never were. Jane's. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-7106-0326-6. 


  • Heavyside, Tom (2010). Douglas – Laxey – Ramsey: including the Groudle Glen Railway. Narrow Gauge Branch Lines series. Midhurst, West Sussex, UK: Middleton Press. ISBN 9781906008758. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°14′02″N 4°24′17″W / 54.233795°N 4.404858°W / 54.233795; -4.404858