West Lancashire Light Railway
No. 21. Stanhope.
|Dates of operation||1967–present|
|Track gauge||2 ft (610 mm)|
|Length||430 yards (393 m)|
The West Lancashire Light Railway operates at Hesketh Bank, situated between Preston and Southport in North West England. The Railway is 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge and has a running length of 430 yards (393 m). The full line is longer than this however it follows a ledge above the old clay pit which is narrow enough to prohibit the building of a run round loop. An extension is planned. The line now boasts eight steam locomotives, four of which are in operating condition, one is currently being restored and another is on static display. There are also two electric locomotives and many IC locomotives. See Locomotives section for details.
The line was first envisaged by six like-minded school boys who wanted to save the light railway equipment which was disappearing from local industries. The first problem was finding a suitable site, this was solved when a strip of land above the clay pits at Alty's Brickworks. In 1967 the group of six started laying track using rails from the former clay tramways and rough timbers as sleepers.
Two locos were soon acquired both of Ruston and Hornsby design, one a 13 hp diesel, the other a 20 hp diesel. Respectively named Clwyd and Tawd, these two locos were soon joined by more industrial diesels and the first home-built items of rolling stock.
In 1980 the railway saw the WLLRs first steam locomotive, Irish Mail, in steam. This was a significant achievement for the line as the loco, bought at an auction at Dinorwic slate quarry in Wales, had not had a boiler when acquired by the railway. This fact meant that a new one had to be sourced and brought to the railway. This necessity eventually led the members of the West Lancs to retrieve the remnants of Alice, a loco of the same design as Irish Mail, from the top of Dinorwic slate quarry, a location which had previously foiled attempts from other interested railway preservationists. Irish Mail was completely rebuilt on site using the original boiler from Alice.
The running line slowly grew in length until it ran from Becconsall to a station known as Asland, which is no longer the far terminus of the line. The line in its present form runs from Becconsall to Delph, with the original track to Asland running on from Delph but not suitable for running engines.
At Becconsall, the railway's sheds are situated. The first of these was built by the members using cast-off bricks from Alty's. This original workshop has been much added to over the years and the equipment in this workshop allows most of the work on restoring a steam locomotive to be undertaken, excluding boiler construction. Facilities for visitors have also been built at Becconsall.
The WLLR and its members own a variety of goods wagons obtained from several UK industrial narrow gauge railways, including tipper sand wagons from Pilkington Brothers sandfields in the Rainford and Bickerstaffe areas.
The WLLR is open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holidays and passengers can ride in semi-open coaches which have been built by the railway's volunteers. Special weekends are organised when visiting steam locomotives can also be seen in operation.
Driver, fireman and guard training courses are organised for small groups on days when public trains are not operating. These courses help to raise revenue to keep the WLLR in continued successful operation.
|Irish Mail||Hunslet||0-4-0ST 'Alice' class||Operational, overhaul completed in 2015||Ex. Dinorwic Slate Quarry, Wales|
|Joffre||Kerr Stuart||0-6-0T+WT 'Joffre' class||Operational||Ex. WW1 French Artillery Railways|
|Montalban (22)||Orenstein and Koppel||0-4-0T+WT||Undergoing Overhaul||Ex. Minas y Ferrocarril de Utrillas, Aragon, Spain|
|Utrillas (21)||Orenstein and Koppel||0-4-0T+WT||Operational||Ex. Minas y Ferrocarril de Utrillas, Aragon, Spain|
|No. 45||Chrzanow||0-6-0T+WT 'LAS' class||Static display||Ex. Polish 2 ft. Gauge|
|No.47||Henschel||0-8-0T||Awaiting restoration||Ex. WW1 German Feldbahn|
|No.48||Fowler||0-4-2T||Undergoing restoration||Ex. Sena Sugar Estates, Mozambique|
|Sybil||Bagnall||0-4-0ST||Undergoing restoration||Ex. Dinorwic Slate Quarry, Wales|
|Cheetal||Fowler||0-6-0WT||Awaiting restoration||Ex. Karachi Port Trust, India|
There are numerous diesel locomotives including products from;
- Hudson Hunslet Ltd.
- Ruston and Hornsby.
- Motor Rail Ltd.
- F. C. Hibberd and Co.
- R A Lister and Company.
- Hudswell Clarke.
- E.E.Baguley Ltd.
|Greenbat||Greenwood and Batley||0-4-0 Battery-Electric||Operational||Ex. R.A.F Fauld|
|Welsh Pony||British Electric Vehicles||0-4-0 Overhead-Electric||Awaiting restoration||Ex. Llechwedd Slate Quarry, Wales|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to West Lancashire Light Railway.|
- British narrow gauge railways
- Lakeside Miniature Railway, Southport
- Moseley Railway Trust
- Narrow gauge railway
- Thomas, Cliff (2002). The Narrow Gauge in Britain & Ireland. Atlantic Publishers. ISBN 1-902827-05-8.
- BBC News Report
- WLLR website
- Local Newspaper and also Executive Manager Planning & Development Services Report Also see Hesketh-with-Becconsall Parish Council News Letter
- Local Newspaper
- Audio report.
- Advert on local paper website.
- http://john-robinson.fotopic.net/ A train info. website.