Steeple Grange Light Railway

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Steeple Grange Light Railway
Steeple Grange Light Railway (geograph 3090462).jpg
LocaleWirksworth, Derbyshire, England
TerminusSteeple Grange
Coordinates53°05′44″N 1°34′15″W / 53.0956°N 1.5709°W / 53.0956; -1.5709Coordinates: 53°05′44″N 1°34′15″W / 53.0956°N 1.5709°W / 53.0956; -1.5709
Steeple Grange Light Railway plan.png
Commercial operations
Original gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Length12 mile (0.80 km)
Preserved gauge18 in (457 mm)
Steeple Grange Light Railway
Middleton Top
Middleton Incline
Middleton Quarry
Recreation Ground
National Stone Centre
Steeple House
Steeplehouse & Wirksworth
Sheep Pasture Incline

The Steeple Grange Light Railway is a heritage railway at Wirksworth in Derbyshire, UK. It uses industrial locomotives and rolling stock from disused mines, quarries, and steelworks around the country.

The line[edit]

The Steeple Grange is a 12-mile (0.8 km) 18 in (457 mm) gauge narrow gauge line, built in 1985 on the former Killer's Branch line from Steeple House Junction of the Cromford and High Peak Railway and Middleton Quarry in Derbyshire.[1] The line features a steep 1:27 (3.7 %) gradient incline from the back of the engine shed to Middleton Top station which has a pathway leading to the road. At Dark Lane there is a carriage shed which houses the railway's coaching stock alongside a few locomotives that are under maintenance, and maintenance wagons.

Two extensions are being studied seriously:

  1. The National Stone Centre has expressed a wish to see the light railway build a line on the old trackbed to its facilities, which would provide a link to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway
  2. The railway also wishes to extend the incline to the level crossing next to Middleton Quarry.

The railway has reached its goal of extending the line up from the Recreation Ground station, towards Lawson's Loop (a runaround siding for trains to pass one another), past the level crossing. Middleton station was reached in 2019 with trains running regularly to this station. The station also has a ballast chute on its right-hand side when ascending the steep grade, used to pour ballast from wheelbarrows into the hopper wagon Lenard. The level crossing up from Lawson's Loop is operated by the guard from the passing train, raising flags at a 90-degree angle with the red flag straight out to warn oncoming vehicles and the yellow flag above the guard's head to allow the train to pass by safely.


The SGLR has two operational passenger locomotives, two permanent way/works locomotives and many others under restoration.


The railway's main locomotive is Greenbat, a 1.5 long tons (1.52 t; 1.68 short tons), 5 hp (3.7 kW) "trammer" type battery locomotive built by Greenwood and Batley of Leeds. Greenbat incorporated a folding cab, to allow the locomotive to fit down small mineshafts. It was ordered by a steel mill, who specifically requested the cab be fixed. Greenbat herself has never been underground, working in various steel mills.

Greenbat was preserved by Adrian Booth, who passed it on to the SGLR when the line was in its infancy. She was fitted with air braking, and coupled to an ex-NCB manrider has provided nearly 15 years of service. In 2005 she received new batteries, the old ones having last 15 years out of a lifespan of 10. Greenbat is the primary use locomotive at the railway, being used for normal day trips, private parties and Santa Specials (banked by ZM32 Horwich on these days).

Motor: 1× GB type T2
Drive: worm and wheel to each axle
Voltage: 48 V, Lead acid batteries

ZM32 Horwich[edit]

ZM32 Horwich was built in 1957 and was given the works number of 416214. This locomotive is the only 18 in (457 mm) gauge Ruston and Hornsby LAT in existence. She was bought by British Railways to work at their Horwich works in Lancashire, and was preserved alongside Wren at the National Railway Museum. When she was sold off, she was going to be sent to a banana plantation in South America. However, she languished in Liverpool docks until bought for the Gloddfa Ganol Museum in Wales. Here, she was regauged to 2 ft (610 mm) and restored to working order. When Gloddfa Ganol closed, she was bought by an SGLR member, restored to 18 in gauge and fitted with airbraking.

A gearbox failure led to her being taken to Dorothea Restorations for a complete overhaul. She is now back on the line, in lined out BR green, and used alternately with Greenbat. She was recently voted the most popular non-steam narrow gauge locomotive[citation needed].

This locomotive is regularly used a banker to help locomotive Greenbat up the line to Santa's Grotto on Santa Special weekends in December.

Engine: Ruston and Hornsby 20 hp (15 kW) diesel
Transmission: Hydraulic, 2 gear box


This locomotive is quite an oddity, being home built. The SGLR was originally started with stock from Ladywash Mine, near Eyam in Derbyshire. The only locomotive was No.6, which was in a very poor, nonfunctioning state. Before Greenbat arrived, it was decided that one of the four wheel Ladywash Hudson manriders should be converted to a locomotive. This was done by Alwyn Ambrey in 1988, using a Villiers engine and transmission from a cricket pitch roller. It resulted in being able to seat 2 passengers and the driver. The drive was geared too highly for the engine to cope with the gradient on the line. This, and the engine being in poor state, meant it was used very little. The locomotive was worked on by various people in the late 1990s, finally being finished by J Scott in 2003. Scott refurbished the engine, thus largely solving the underpowering problem, and fitted a much better braking system. Two years later, a new engine was found. It is basically the same as the old one, but has a 3:1 reduction gearbox fitted. Although there is still some tinkering to be done, this addition has greatly improved the locomotives haulage. The locomotive is not in regular use because of its insufficient haulage capacity and not having the required horsepower to climb the grade before Middleton station.[citation needed]

Engine: 3½ HP Villiers Mk25 with reduction box
Transmission: Cup and cone reversing clutch and chain drive


The railway has three battery Claytons of similar designs in private ownership. L10 (works Order No. 5431 of January 1968) and L16 (W/O No. B0109B of March 1973, named Peggy) are 1 34 long tons (1.8 t; 2.0 short tons), 7 hp (5.2 kW) low-height locomotives. They were both bought directly from industrial use. Peggy has recently been restored to operating condition, and is running using the redundant 15-year-old batteries from Greenbat. Peggy is fitted with a cam-contactor controller and resistances for speed control. Peggy serves as the primary locomotive for work trains on the SGLR, taking volunteers up and down the line to do rail and infrastructure maintenance, often seen with the tool wagon being shunted back and forth. Peggy also works on the branchline trains down into the quarry, interchanging with Peter every so often.

Lady Margorie is a compact 7 hp (5.2 kW), 1 34 long tons (1.8 t; 2.0 short tons) Clayton. Designed to work in 4 ft (1.22 m) diameter sewer pipes, she even has a "barn roof" style battery box top to make maximum use of confined space. She has an electronic controller, as opposed to the more usual resistance type. On 20 May 2012 Lady Margorie was renamed Peter after the late Peter Sellers, the society chairman.[citation needed]

Ladywash Mine No.6[edit]

This was the first locomotive on the railway, bought with a large amount of track and rolling stock from Ladywash Mine, near Eyam in Derbyshire. She is a 10 hp (7.5 kW), 3 long tons (3.05 t; 3.36 short tons) design also from Greenwood and Batley.

She spent all her working life at Ladywash, acquiring some interesting but highly useful modifications – her works photo appears in Adrian Booth's book on Greenwood and Batley, and is quite interesting to contrast with her current form. She was also fitted with a thyristor controller, which was removed before being sold.

She arrived at the SGLR in a poor state of repair which, along with the lack of controller, meant she was dumped around various sidings untouched. Eventually she was bought in 2004, and work finally started on her restoration. Following removal from the site for shotblasting, the frames have been repainted and simultaneously the axleboxes overhauled. Now back on site, she is currently a rolling chassis with brake gear being overhauled. Where necessary, new parts are being machined by her owner. Work is also currently underway on the manufacture of a replacement controller, making use of contactors and resistances from other electrical machines. Future work includes overhaul of the two traction motors, some attention to one of the gearboxes and re-cabling prior to reassembly.

Motors: 2× GB type T2
Batteries: 60V lead-acid
Weight: 3 tons new, 3¼–3½ tons with modifications

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Steeple Grange Light Railway". Retrieved 6 March 2009.

External links[edit]