West Lancashire Light Railway

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Coordinates: 53°42′01″N 2°50′19″W / 53.7003°N 2.8387°W / 53.7003; -2.8387

West Lancashire Light Railway
Irish Mail at West Lancs Light Railway.jpg
Irish Mail
Locale England
Dates of operation 1967–present
Track gauge 2 ft (610 mm)
Length 430 yards (393 m)
Headquarters Hesketh Bank

The West Lancashire Light Railway operates at Hesketh Bank,[1] situated between Preston and Southport in North West England.[2] The Railway is 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge[3] and has a running length of 430 yards (393 m).[2] 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.[4] 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.[5]


Site Map
Running Shed


Montalban built in 1913 being serviced and watered
Irish Mail

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.[7] 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,[8] 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.


Steam locomotives[edit]

Name/Number Builder Type Status Notes
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, restored in 2012 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

Diesel Locomotives[edit]

There are numerous diesel locomotives including products from;

Electric Locomotives[edit]

Name Builder Type Status Notes
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

See also[edit]


  • Thomas, Cliff (2002). The Narrow Gauge in Britain & Ireland. Atlantic Publishers. ISBN 1-902827-05-8. 

External links[edit]