We will be opening the site at Lea Bailey for visitors between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 24th September.
Our resident Simplex 21282 will be operational on the day, with other locomotives and items of interest on static display.
We will be requesting a donation of £5 per person, towards our new appeal to raise funds for a wagon turntable which will form an integral part of the new line we are planning to construct on the mine tip. Along with the wagon traverser and new set of point this will allow us to demonstrate multiple techniques which were used to move and process wagon loads of materials in historic mining operations.
Our volunteers will be on-hand to answer queries, and to give information about the history of the site and our heritage activities.
Whilst the rest of the country was in lockdown, members of the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society were working behind the scenes on ambitious plans to extract and process a rare mineral from the Bailey Level mine.
During a routine mine inspection, a rich deposit of Coprolite was discovered in a partially-collapsed side working just off the main level. After work to stabilise the collapse, a partnership was soon formed with a local manufacturer of garden fertiliser to process the Coprolite ore into a consumer product at a new site inside a disused quarry on Wigpool Common.
To avoid transporting the ore by road on the narrow lanes around Wigpool a scheme was devised to move the ore by rail, utilising a new narrow gauge railway laid on existing forestry tracks. The project will be known as Rail Loop F with the “F” representing Fertiliser and also the Forest under which it is mined.
On 31st March 2021, approval was granted by the Mines And New Underground Railways Executive to begin construction. The ore will be drilled and blasted by trained Nonex operatives before being loaded into wagons using an Eimco 12B rocker shovel loader. The society would like to thank the Association of Rocker Shovel Experts for undertaking training and certification for this machine as well as providing servicing manuals.
An ore conveyor will move the coprolite up the steep incline to the forestry track above the mine entrance, where it will be loaded into wagons for the journey along Rail Loop F to the processing plant. The wagons will be hauled using the Continuous Rope And Pulley system, similar to the cable-hauled “creeper” utilised by the Arthur & Edward Colliery in Lydbrook many years ago.
Once the ore reaches the processing plant, it will be crushed to a fine powder by a set of Cornish Stamps along with dried organic silt from Wigpool Water Works. This Partially Oricaceous Organic Powder will then be mixed with a top-secret blend of natural fertilisers derived from plant and animal sources. These ingredients will be obtained from local farms to minimise the impact of road transport. The blend will then be stabilised using a proprietary formula to create Mineral Infused Liquid Fertiliser which is to be sold to consumers through a network of local distributors. The end product is designed to be diluted with water as a plant food supplement, suitable for both ornamental and food crops.
Professor Owen Lee and Dr. Joe King of the Sharlston Hill Institute of Technology for mineral analysis
Councillor April Fuller for her invaluable assistance with the statutory planning process
Mapping services by the Ordnance Survey with route overlay by Amos E. Wolfe
During the lockdown, individual volunteers have been visiting the railway for regular site checks, and so far no problems have been found.
Travel restrictions are being eased in Wales from Monday 6th July, and as some of our core group of volunteers travel to us from over the border, the Chairman is considering re-starting volunteer working parties from Sunday 12 July 2020.
We are currently consulting Government guidelines and drawing up a risk assessment and a set of guidelines for the various tasks that can be carried out on the railway whilst maintaining appropriate social distancing.
This year our Autumn Open Day will be a low-key affair as we only have one locomotive in operation and no working compressor to run the Eimco 12B and 24 rocker shovels and 401 air locomotive. Motor Rail “Simplex” 21282 will be available for demonstration trains and our volunteers will be on hand to give progress updates on our work at the mine.
Please aim to visit us between 11:00am and 3:00pm.
? Update(as of 4th July 2019): Money raised so far is £690.00 with thanks to everyone who donated (including a very generous donation from a local business owner). Please keep donating if you are able to do so. Further funds will be used to purchase new traction batteries for the WR8 battery-electric locomotive
We have now had a quote from a supplier for parts required to get our Motor Rail diesel locomotive back into working order following the theft of several engine components during a break-in back in March 2019.
This leaves us with the sum of just over £500 to raise in order to get 21282 running again. The locomotive has been a valuable workhorse for many years, and had the honour of hauling the first train when the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society first started work on the site in 2012.
Volunteers are working hard and investing their own time and money to improve the security of our storage facilities to avoid any repeat visits from thieves and vandals.
Click the Donate button below and use your PayPal account or credit/debit card.
If more money is raised than is needed to purchase the replacement engine parts for 21282, we will put any additional funds towards a full service and repaint of the locomotive once it is running. We are also aiming to purchase a set of traction batteries for the Wingrove & Rogers WR8 battery-electric locomotive owned by the Society.
Disclaimer: Whilst the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society is a not-for-profit organisation, we are not a Registered Charity in the United Kingdom. Your donation will be used at the discretion of the Society’s officers to further the aims of our projects.
Volunteers at a heritage mine railway on the Gloucestershire-Herefordshire border have been left without motive power after thieves broke in and stole parts from two diesel engines.
Lea Bailey Light Railway Society operates the mine and associated railway system at Bailey Level in the Forest of Dean which is also home to several small independent iron and coal mines known as Freemines, operated under an ancient right granted by King Edward I.
A Lister JK6 coupled to a generator set which was stored awaiting restoration has been stripped of several parts but the real blow was the removal of the rocker covers and rockers from the 3-cylinder Deutz engine fitted to Motor Rail locomotive № 21282.
This 58-year old locomotive is known affectionately as “The Simplex” — a nickname derived from its patented two-speed gearbox design — and has been an indispensible workhorse since it arrived at Lea Bailey in 2012.
Wagons containing minerals and waste materials are moved by hand on the underground section of the railway, but a powerful locomotive is needed to shunt heavy loads including the two-ton Eimco 12B rocker shovel loader which is a popular exhibit at the Society’s open days.
Volunteers now have a race against time to source replacement parts to get № 21282 back into working order for the next Open Weekend on 18th & 19th May. Other items that have been taken include the starter battery & leads, coupling pins & chains, air filter, and a number of D-shackles.
Anyone with information is asked to contact email@example.com or report to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Due to recent unforseen events the Open Weekend has been postponed — watch this space for details…
We are in the early stages of planning for our next Open Weekend which will be on 18th & 19th May 2019. This event will focus on mining, with displays and demonstrations of heritage mining equipment and techniques. Mining has had a great impact on shaping the social history of the Forest of Dean, its people and culture.