Mountsorrel Railway

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Mountsorrel Railway
Barrow-upon-Soar National Rail
UK road A6.PNG
Mountsorrel Quarry
End of running line
Heritage Centre
Great Central Railway northward
Swithland Sidings
Rothley
Great Central Railway southward
The Current Logo

The Mountsorrel Railway was a network of industrial railway lines that served the granite quarries which dominate the Leicestershire village of Mountsorrel. After being closed in the 1950s, a section was reopened in 2015 as a heritage line run by Mountsorrel & Rothley Community Heritage Centre.

History[edit]

As early as 1860, there were eight-and-a-half miles of track serving the local quarries of the Mountsorrel Granite Company, now owned by Lafarge Aggregates. The line ran from the Great Central Railway at Swithland Sidings, around the quarries, over the Grand Union Canal at Mountsorrel, to the Midland Main Line at Barrow-upon-Soar.[1]

The line fell out of use in the 1950s, the track was taken up in the 1960s, and most of the route was abandoned.

Restoration[edit]

1950-built wagon No. B477060, restored as 654 for the Mountsorrel Railway project

The line between Mountsorrel and Barrow is still followed by a mineral conveyor to Barrow, where quarry rock is sorted for distribution.

A local resident, Steve Cramp, has been researching the railway and, as well as writing a book about it, is leading a project to rebuild the part of the railway going from Swithland to Mountsorrel. Donations have already come in for the project, including from Lafarge.[2] The project will reinstate one-and-a-quarter miles of new track to a small halt station under Wood Lane bridge. This will allow the villagers of Mountsorrel to catch a train for nearby Rothley and then onto the rest of the preserved network. The line climbs at a grade of 1-in-62, which is far steeper than the gradients on the Great Central Mainline, as they reached only 1-in-175.

Despite numerous examples, none of the original Mountsorrel wagons had been preserved, so three wooden-bodied open wagons (two 5-plank bodies and one 3-plank) which closely resembled the old ones were selected to be returned to service in the official light grey livery of the old Mountsorrel Granite Company.[3]

Open days have been held on the trackbed since May 2009, involving ecology groups and track bed 'tours among' children and adults. When finished, the plan is to provide the Great Central Railway with a secondary attraction, recreating various scenes from the past, including a time when children would ride in the open wagons on Sundays and days out.[citation needed]

At present, the group have completed ballast laying over the first mile from the junction with the GCR to Wood Lane. On 10 May 2010, the track work began with the placement of a right-handed point at Swithland Sidings, the first part of the new junction.[4] In June, the group received a £5000 donation from the Great Central's support charity, bringing them closer to their goal to complete the track laying.[5] An ex-British Railways AC Cars railbus, which has been stored at the back of Loughborough since 2006, is also planned to be restored for use on the branch and the rest of the railway in general, with work due to start as soon as enough money has been raised.[6] Work is due to continue as finances allow and the group are currently looking for more track, sleepers and fittings for the branch.

By May 2011, track had been laid over the first 300m of the branch line, which allowed the first trains to run on the railway since the track lifting trains in 1959. The group are currently in the process of fund raising for £16,000 to allow the next 450m of track to be laid.

By the end of April 2012, phase 2 had been completed, with a further 250-300m laid and many hedgerows planted, and fund raising for phase three was well underway (£11,000 of £23,000 raised so far). This will allow laying of the next 500m of track and take the track to Wood Lane, on the outskirts of Mountsorrel.[7]

In early December 2012, track-laying passed through the bridge at Wood Lane. Materials had also been secured to reach the end of the line at Bond Lane. By this time, total project spend had been £90,000, with £9,500 still to be raised to complete the track to passenger-carrying standards.[8]

One of the original Mountsorrel locomotives was also preserved, Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST Works No. 1759 Elizabeth of 1928. It is currently undergoing restoration at the nearby Rutland Railway (Cottesmore). It is a long-term ambition of the project team to return this locomotive to the railway in the near future.

The preserved line[edit]

The Mountsorrel Quarryman inaugural train

On 21 November 2013, the first passenger train travelled the railway towards Mountsorrel hauling the project volunteers. Project leader Steve Cramp said on the day that “It’s been an emotional time for us all, everybody has worked so hard over the last six years to bring this vision to reality and it’s so nice to actually see a steam train get back up to Mountsorrel."[9]

On 27 January 2014, planning permission for a simple 50m-long platform built into the base of the cutting next to the bridge at Bond Lane was granted by Charnwood Borough Council. The platform was constructed from concrete blocks faced with Mountsorrel Granite. The aim for the new platform was to link up with Stonehurst Family Farm and Motor Museum bringing together the local community [10]

After eight years and over 80,000 hours of volunteer time, the Mountsorrel Railway was opened to the public over the weekend of 24 and 25 October 2015 by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who is President of the Heritage Railway Association and Vice Chairman of the Science Museum.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]