Lea Bailey Light Railway

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Lea Bailey Light Railway
WR8 Locomotive entering Lea Bailey gold mine.jpg
WR8 locomotive shunting wagons into the mine
Locale England
Commercial operations
Name Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway
Built by Great Western Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Operated by Lea Bailey Light Railway Society
Length 200 yards (183 m)
Preserved gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1885
Closed 1917
Preservation history
2012 Work started at the Lea Bailey site

The Lea Bailey Light Railway is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge heritage railway in the United Kingdom. It is built on the site of a former gold mine which was started by the Chastan Syndicate in 1906. Having sold 75,000 shares at £1 each, test workings at Lea Bailey and nearby Staple Edge concluded that the small amount of gold present could not be extracted economically. The syndicate was wound up in 1908.[1]

The mine was later extended and some 3,000 long tons (3,048 t; 3,360 short tons) of iron ore were extracted — a small amount compared to the 150,000 long tons (152,407 t; 168,000 short tons) extracted from the nearby Wigpool Ironstone Mine.[2]

An attempt was made in 2003 by the owners of Clearwell Caves to open the mine as a tourist attraction, but this was ultimately unsuccessful. In 2012, a small group from the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club discovered the mine and a quantity of disused railway equipment and proposed to the owners that a volunteer-led project could start work on restoring the site. As of 2014, two locomotives and a number of wagons have been moved to Lea Bailey from storage at Clearwell Caves or the nearby Hawthorn Tunnel.[3]

In 2013 the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society was formed;[4] its members act as volunteers, undertaking all aspects of work on the site. A regular free newsletter is produced and sent out by e-mail.[5]


Name Type Builder Works number Date built Arrived at Lea Bailey Notes
4wDM Motor Rail 21282 1964 September 1993 Supplied to brickworks at Kempston Hardwick, then purchased by Alan Keef and sold to the Meirion Mill Railway in 1975. Returned to Alan Keef in late 1976, was sold on a peatworks where it worked until 1989. Then went to Lea Bailey.[6]
4w compressed air Eimco 401-216[7] Ex-mining contractor in British Columbia. Re-gauged from 18 in (457 mm) gauge.



  1. ^ "Lea Bailey Gold Mine Experience". Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Oliver Hunter's Website - Caving". Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Lea Bailey Light Railway - Newsletter No. 1" (PDF). Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Lea Bailey Light Railway Society". Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Lea Bailey Light Railway - Newsletter Archive". Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Quine, Dan (November 2016). "Trixie and the Meirion Mill Railway". Narrow Gauge World. 
  7. ^ "Chance to see rare loco in action at Lea Bailey". The Ross Gazette. 15 September 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°52′23.73″N 2°31′8.25″W / 51.8732583°N 2.5189583°W / 51.8732583; -2.5189583