The main site at Lea Bailey was open to the public from 11:00 to 16:00. The attractions included:
Our Simplex / Motor Rail 21282 and Wingrove & Rogers battery-electric locomotives in action
Our EIMCO 12B rocker shovel on display
Display of our two recently arrived battery-electric locomotives.
Freelance motorised skip wagon ‘Skippy’ from Alan Keef Ltd.
A Lister Auto Truck from Brian Faulkner
Alan Keef Ltd had announced that the planned ‘Steam-Up and Open Day’ would not be going ahead as originally planned on 19th September 2015 — however, the decision had been taken for the best possible reasons! Managing Director Patrick Keef explained:
“The culmination of a large project in Europe in conjunction with other major project work and the wonderful news that my fellow Director and sister Alice Basey will be having a baby around the same time as the Open Day, together with two family house moves, meant we had to review our priorities. The Open Day is a huge attraction for enthusiasts, customers and friends alike and we will of course miss seeing everyone, but we felt very strongly that if we couldn’t commit to putting on the very best show we could, we’d rather postpone it and instead plan an even better event for 2016.”
For our Open Days on 9th and 10th May we had not one but two air-powered machines — our own Eimco 12B rocker shovel (which can now propel itself under power) was joined by a visitor in the form of “Issing Sid” (Hunslet 9902 of 2009) from Statfold Barn Railway. Sid is a modern-day replica of a 19th Century compressed-air locomotive designed to work underground without the noxious fumes created by a steam or internal combustion engine.
Saturday 9th was a public open day welcoming local visitors and enthusiasts from farther afield. Sunday 10th was set aside for a visit from the Narrow Gauge Railway Society following their AGM at Perrygrove Railway the previous day. Visiting Clearwell Caves was Gareth’s Clayton battery-electric which joined our resident Hunslet 7446 as well as the long-term restoration projects such as the W227 and large Hudswell-Clarke 0-4-0 diesels.
If cost is everything then for an entry level locomotive you need look no further than a battery powered machine. We inherited our first one in more or less ready-to-run condition and in late 2014 took delivery of four more.
Rob Needham has arranged the purchase of one 2ft gauge WR8 and one 18in gauge WR5 battery locos from Murphy’s the contractors in London. The WR8 is 8hp 60volts, and has been stored under cover, so should be easy to get working quickly with batteries from our WR5 plus one more. Then we can take our WR5 out of use and give it an overhaul, including replacing the controller with that from the new WR5. The 18in gauge locomotive is just a temporary resident and is expected to go a site near Cardiff, obviously it would need major surgery to run at Lea Bailey.
Murphy’s have been disposing of their stock and it was an excellent opportunity to acquire locomotives in good overall condition.
Since we established ourselves in 2012, the Hawthorns Tunnel (Euroclydon Tunnel) site at Drybrook has been little more than a source of track for Lea Bailey. Now we have decided to establish a proper presence at the tunnel. The culvert that carries a small stream past our access gate had collapsed and that meant some initial hard work so we could get equipment down to the tunnel.
Another headache is the fact that the trackbed outside the tunnel is now several feet higher than the tunnel floor which is largely concreted. Also, when the stream overflows, water pours through the tunnel. Some digging out will hopefully have brought this under control. Our new skip (the result of an exchange for a former Coleford Brickworks wagon) has been pressed into service as can be seen. Inside the tunnel we shall lay track from that stored there for many years until it runs out.
Although the tunnel is very damp, should we so wish, we should be able to keep and operate the Hunslet here as it has no electrical system. However, that would mean bringing in a small compressor to start it every time it runs.
Administrator’s Note: Work in the cutting has been put on hold whilst matters relating to ownership of the land are put in order. Our access to the tunnel itself is not affected.
If cost is everything then for an entry-level locomotive you need look no further than a battery powered machine. We inherited our first one in more or less ready-to-run condition and have since taken delivery of two more.
The latest additions — no less than four of them — will be much more of a challenge. Given the cost of the heavy duty batteries needed to power them, I doubt we shall ever see a run past of all of them working simultaneously.
Clayton 1¾ ton 4wBE w/no 5961C of 1972.
Has no motor or brakes. Stored in Littledean. Bought from Ian Bendall, Wigston, Leics. Industrial identity ‘EL9’.
History not yet known:
One option is to fit two 24v lorry starter motors (one to each axle) and power with four 12v auto batteries.
This loco is of same type as one brought to Lea Bailey open day in June by Gareth Rees.
Logan ¾ ton 4wBE, w/no LM 1066 of 1951.
Complete apart from battery and battery boxes (but very corroded due to over 40 years stored OOU outdoors at Llechwedd, North Wales).
To Edmund Nuttall, Sons & Co (London) Ltd, no location known. Sold to Mitchell Bros, Son & Co Ltd, Tickhill, Doncaster in 1965; given plant no MBS236. Employed on Mitchell’s Tilbury Power Station contract, before moving on to their LT Victoria Line, Vauxhall Park contract. By February 1972 the loco was at Mitchell’s Tickhill Plant Depot, Doncaster. Sold to Llechwedd Slate Quarry & Tourist Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, moved by April 1972. Not used, put on static display. Sold to Alan Keef Sept 2014. Bought for LBLR and moved to storage in Littledean, 24th October 2014.
Longish term restoration project (for dry weather)
Needs two battery boxes making (there is a complete example in North Wales on which to measure the boxes). 96v so will need eight 12v auto batteries.
Wingrove & Rogers WR18 4wBE, w/no 7888R of 1977.
Complete apart from battery and brakes (but battered and corroded from use and outdoor storage).
New to Stanhopeburn mine. 6/1978 as No 3 moved to Cambokeels mine. By 16/10/1988 moved to Frazers Grove mine. C4/2004 moved to Broadwood Processing Plant for storage. Bought for LBLR and moved to Lea Bailey 27th October 2014.
Wheels and motors rotate (but are stiff). 72v so will need six 12v auto batteries. Although handbrake, blocks and rigging are missing this loco appears to have a transmission brake.
The WR18 is an upgraded version of W227 as used on the George & Charlotte mine tramway at Morwellham.
Wingrove & Rogers WR18 4wBE, w/no 7964 of 1977.
Complete apart from battery and brakes (but battered and corroded from use and outdoor storage), battery box is not original (too small).
New to Redburn mine. By 11/3/1978 to Stanhopeburn mine. After 7/1979, by 12/10/1980 moved to Cambokeels mine as No 4. By 16/10/1988 moved to Frazers Grove mine. By 19/12/1989 moved to Cambokeels mine. By 17/11/1990 moved to Frazers Grove mine as No 1. 12/1999 moved to Broadwood Processing Plant for storage. 8/7/2004 sold to I Hughes, Langwathby, Cumbria. Then sold to R Etherington, Shackerstone, Leics. Bought for LBLR and moved to Clearwell 24th October 2014 to be restored for use as shunter at the Caves.
Wheels and motors rotate (easier than on 7888). 72v so will need six 12v auto batteries. Although handbrake, blocks and rigging are missing this loco hopefully has a transmission brake as on 7888.
N.B.Redburn, Stanhopeburn, Cambokeels and Frazers Grove mines and Broadwood Processing Plant were all parts of the (now defunct) Weardale fluorspar industry in County Durham.
The other Forest of Dean September Open Days were lower-key than in2013 as the Alan Keef works was ‘between projects’ and the Vintage Train had left Perrygrove. Nevertheless, a constant stream of visitors arrived at Lea Bailey many directed from our stall at Lea Lines which was much busier than the pictures suggest — you can’t take photographs while you are talking to potential visitors. The numbers at Clearwell were a little disappointing and next year we shall probably only operate there for the Summer Open Day.
At Lea Bailey, the W&R battery loco blew a fuse and retired, but the centre of attention was the newly restored Eimco rocker shovel which was taught how to throw bricks using a specially hired compressor. On the Sunday, we were very pleased to welcome some of Alan Keef’s weekend guests, maybe next year they will bring one of their steam locos with them. As the picture shows, they had to work for their entertainment as the Eimco derailed itself.
Apart from the very welcome publicity which will raise our profile, we collected some £300 in donations and sales.
A visit from the mining inspectorate requested some changes to our operating practices. Most seriously, we have been told not to store or operate locomotives within the mine. We have nowhere else sufficiently secure to keep the Hunslet at Lea Bailey and it has been returned to Clearwell. At the same time, the Eimco rocker shovel and the Wingrove & Rogers battery-electric locomotive have moved to Lea Bailey (the W&R is small enough to fit in the container with the Simplex). The rocker shovel is now back in action although a little more work is needed before it moves itself.
We have been told to ballast the track and work to do this will be carried out shortly, at the time of writing a delivery of ballast is on site. This has now been carried out (22nd September 2014). Meanwhile, the siding that runs behind the shed is nearing completion and it will give us much needed storage space for those vehicles which are more or less vandal proof.
This was the first time we had given an advance public invitation to the railway and we had no idea what to expect in terms of visitors. Apparently there were enough that those who might have counted gave up. The car park was full most of the time and it will have to be extended before the September event. We collected almost £200 in donations which we shall have no trouble spending. There was a full turnout of volunteers who were keen to demonstrate ongoing and completed projects and refreshments were available courtesy of Jen Clifford.
Apart from our own locomotives — the Simplex has been given a spruce up and now you can see it coming — we had a Clayton battery-electric on show; it had been collected from Alan Keef at Lea Lines on the Saturday. The mine was open and illuminated by a small generator. Thanks to Rob and John Needham for supplying some of the pictures.
This was the first time that ‘advertised’ trains had run at Clearwell Caves for very many years. Apart from our own Wingrove & Rogers battery-electric locomotive we had a visitor from a private railway near Gloucester in the form of a rather travel weary small Lister — sensible because the tracks at Clearwell are a bit rough after years of disuse.
The Lister arrived on Saturday afternoon and after unloading was taken on a proving run or two, as you can see from the picture, it wasn’t just the track that was a bit rough.
The Eimco Rocker Shovel had recently been recovered from inside where it had been stored for quite a few years and from time to time it was moved up and down. It will need new cables and probably air pipes before it returns to service.
On Sunday, the Clearwell Caves electric winch was in action moving tubs up and down, which were then run out into the open. The plan was to do this hourly but that proved optimistic, especially when the heavy traffic took its toll on the track. At which point the webmaster made his excuses and left.
Important lessons have been learned and everything should go much more smoothly in September. Thanks to Rob and John Needham for supplying the pictures.
Wingrove & Rogers Ltd works number L1009 was built in 1981, an 0-4-0BE of Type WR5, quoted in IRS handbook ‘Industrial Railways and Locomotives of South Western England’ as of 5hp, but the motor is clearly marked 4hp. After a number of owners it pitched up at Clearwell Caves. Some time later, the battery failed and was scrapped. It then remained out of use for at least 5 years until it moved again under the power of four 12-volt batteries on 9th March 2014. It will be a useful addition for light loads at Lea Bailey in due course but for the time being will remain at Clearwell.