A Light Railway for the Western Dales

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A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Sun Apr 16, 2017 1:02 pm

The GWLR began life in 2014, building on the enthusiasm and foresight of local history buffs, who had unearthed the story behind the Yorkshire dales' forgotten railway - the Breastfield & Bogg Bridge Light Railway, a long forgotten and foolhardy effort by the great Bernard Housedown (Potter) of 'Black Burton', the former home of pottery in the Yorkshire dales (It is said the villages name was derived from the black smog that enveloped the village and most of Gretadale from the pottery chimneys, burning the local sulphurous coal). In these more genteel times, the village is now called Burton in Gretadale - but not by t'locals - who still refer to 'Black Burton'.

Bernard was much inspired by the canal system which had led Stoke on Trent to surpass him as a leading supplier of fine pottery to the dales, but was convinced that a light railway would be quicker and cheaper, despite warnings from his son Bringdur Housedown (Bernard's wife was Icelandic, hence his son's unusual first name) that "t'railways not exactly smooth sailin', is it? Won't t'ut pottery get smashed afore it gets out o' town?". "Oh, shut oop Lad" Bernard is alleged to have replied "I wants a railway, an' a railway I shall 'ave!"

As is so often the way with such things, once challenged by his son Bringdur, Bernard became like a man possessed; a railway engineer was appointed and planning began. Isambard (K.B.) politely declined Bernard's invitation, but a chance meeting at a local hostelry resulted in self proclaimed (and self recommended) rail engineer William Eckerslike (Willy to his friends) being appointed, on 'advantageous' terms.

Perhaps Bernard was unwise to tell Willy to "spare no expense" but that is exactly what he did, although at the subsequent bankruptcy hearing, it was not possible to identify where Willy had spent the Housedown fortune. Certainly, a track was laid, rolling stock was purchased and a fine causeway was constructed over Manor Bog, in tribute to Mr Madoc, MP - one of Bernard's life heroes. But the infrastructure and stock were valued at no more than a tenth of the expenses claimed - if only Willy could've been found to attend the hearing, perhaps some light could have been shed…

Despite the best advice of friends and accountant, Bernard got the railway he'd longed for. Unfortunately, the pottery business in the Dales had gone into permanent decline under the onslaught of cheap mass produced pots from Staffordshire. The first, and only, scheduled train from Breastfield left the pottery with its load just as the receivers entered Bernard's office. And, sure enough, on arrival at Bogg Bridge, most of the consignment had been reduced to shattered shards - just as Bringdur predicted…

All of the stock and property of the railway were sold to cover Bernard's outstanding debts. By the time the scrapmen and administrators had finished, all that was left of the line was the associated earthworks, and of course, Bogg Causeway.

Moving nearer to the present day; in 2014 a chance conversation in the local hostelry (The Punch Bag) revealed an interest in looking for remains of the route taken by the railway, with the obvious starting point being Bogg Causeway. From this inauspicious start, a new limited company, BaBBLR Preservation Group, was born. Couldn the railway be restored, and run viably as a freight and tourist led enterprise?
BoggCauseway1.jpg
Bogg Causeway - the land nearest camera has now been reclaimed as farmland. The causeway appears solid and useable. At 165 (scale) yards long, it was a major engineering triumph over boggy peaty land - especially for an engineer of Willy Eckerslike's dubious ability. Now to find the route of the rest of the line...

Having verified that the causeway was still usable, work began to identify the route taken between Breastfield Pottery (as was) and Bogg Bridge.
The old station area had been left to nature, and became very overgrown. The local grapevine, meanwhile, lead to a real surge in interest amongst locals - a work party arrived to help with clearing the station area - far more than tree fellers!
P1020345_stn_clearance.jpg
Remains of giant Leylandii Eforvicia have been grubbed out.
P1020598_pottery.jpg
Tireless work at Gretadale Reference Library, uncovered the route to Breastfield (now a wooded area outside the village) where the remains of the old Housedown Pottery were discovered.

Not being content with simply researching and maybe restoring a defunct railway, a man of vision in the community, Frederick Archibald Turnpike, realised the potential for a resurgence of narrow gauge railways as a low cost transport link to the wider world. Working quietly behind the scenes, Turnpike secured funding to establish a new light railway company - news broken to the local population via their own publication in December 2014 -
Black-Burton-news-Dec2014.jpg
Appointed as the new Railway's Controller, Mr F. A Turnpike said the name change was unavoidable, if the line wished to become recognised in the local area, and more importantly, to secure the financial input from the anonymous benefactor 'in perpetuity'. And so, in 2014, began the Greta and Wenningdale Light Railway, or GWLR, as it has become known.
Last edited by Lonsdaler on Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by laalratty » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:54 pm

Excellent backstory Phil, although if my knowledge of local NG lines is correct at Carnforth there is also connections to the Little Morecambe Steam Railway and the southern (respectable) section of the Silverdale Light Railway. The less said about the highly disrespectable northern section of the SLR the better....

Apologies to other forum members to whom this post won't make much sense, apart from those who have been here a while and might remember when LMSjools and SLRmidge still posted regularly. Phil is a member of the same 16mm Association area group as I am.
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:09 am

You are of course quite right Chris, but the connection from the GWLR is via the Lindeth Light Railway. I understand there is even a little welsh railway near Moribund Bay! :lol:
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by pippindoo » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:10 pm

As a fellow Yorkshire railway entrepreneur, I'll be keeping an interest in developments here. Reading the back story, it seems Bernard and Lord Hollycross have much in common!

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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by daan » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:11 pm

Apart from the news of the railwaysystem being rediscovered, I saw an article about jobless people having children at taxpayers expense. I always thought this was a unique thing only in Holland, but it seems that the virus has spread.. :lol:
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:46 am

Daan,
We thought it was unique to the UK! :lol:

Anyway, back on topic -
In the space of just three years, my railway has had three layouts! This plan is as it was at the beginning of 2016
Garden Railway Plan1.jpg
The track initially consisted of the portion from 'Black Burton', to the end of the garden, then along the field wall (which is ground level in the garden and represents Bogg Causeway) before going around the west loop (which represented Bernard Housedowns old pottery site) to return to Black Burton. A small retaining wall was built along the flower bed to retain the soil. Here's a photo from when a friend became the first 'visitor' to the line, showing the section where Bendam station is.
Francis_visits.jpg
And another shot of the whole stretch up the side of the garden. This was taken 12 months after the shot above, and shows the stone is starting to weather nicely.
Weathered stone wall.jpg
This is the tunnel entrance to Black Burton yard, which is built in the base of a large former quarry.
Tunnel_entrance.jpg
Below is the current view of Black Burton. I had removed the doors of the station building to repaint the cream. The rest of the building is a sedate beigey cream, but the door panels were painted with railmatch WR cream, which is just too custardey for me. I'll do a separate post on the building itself. The low relief engine shed is made from foamboard and a Jackon's door and window. This has been outside since 2015, and seems to be surviving the rigours well.
Stn_yard.jpg
The turntable consists of a round planting tray sunk into the paving, and a centrally pivoted table made from some decorative sheet metal (for radiator covers, I think), and plastic card railings. PTFE washers on the ends of the table allow a low friction operation of the turntable
turntable.jpg
The loop at bottom right in the plan was built in summer 2015, to provide the facility of a run around circuit, and represented the link to Ingleton Mountain Railway. This was negotiated with the Planning Authority to allow continuous running on the line, without the need for running round at Burton. Certain conditions had to be met - it had to be removable (so it was built on a filcris ladder 'frame'). This also meant that another short sharp gradient was required, as this placed the loop two inches above the other track, with only 3 feet to achieve the height gain. it was achieved, and seemed to work well; except for free running :roll: The only picture I have of the loop was taken during the winter - to my shame, I didn't take advantage of the conditions to run anything :oops: The sharp incline (deliberate) is where the lower green cross is on the plan above, whilst the green cross at top right is the site of another steep gradient, on a bend which was due to poor engineering on my part.
IMR Loop.jpg
It was dissatisfaction with the running on these gradients that lead to the current arrangement. Despite all my good intentions trying to keep the gradient to the straight, and to utilise the whole length to lessen the slope (upper right side in the plan), I failed :cry: The gradient is gentle for most of the straight down from the tunnel, but then becomes too fierce approaching the bend, and worse still, continues into the bend - this has led to several derailments, and also makes it impossible to run without radio control, because sufficient regulator to get up the slope causes the locomotive to career wildly down the slope. This photo shows the offending corner, with the rockery behind. The board (left in the picture) is not (yet!) attractive but is very necessary - it stops (real) cows destroying the rockery :lol: My plan was to paint an image of Ingleborough onto it as a small 'backdrop'
Crash corner.jpg
Last edited by Lonsdaler on Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by LNR » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:52 am

Third pic. down does it for me with the track sweeping round the curve, up through the cutting into the station. Seems you have some civil engineering hurdles, but I'm sure with the track in place, ways around any problems often become more obvious.
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by daan » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:02 pm

Nice layout, I like the half buildings at the station. The front of the shed could also be a nice way to hide an entrance into a storage siding in a garage or something. Apart from that; gradiënts are annoying, certainly for live steam and even more when you want to run without the electronics. Could it be possible to take the grade and decent again with a momentum van? I saw that someone else on the board sells these and that they can help getting steamlocomotives to behave..
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by laalratty » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:44 pm

Most interesting, must get round to visiting at some point. Your track plan is very similar to mine, the first one I've seen that is so similar.
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:21 pm

LNR wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:52 am
Third pic. down does it for me with the track sweeping round the curve, up through the cutting into the station. Seems you have some civil engineering hurdles, but I'm sure with the track in place, ways around any problems often become more obvious.
Grant.
Thanks Grant. There are a couple of spots on the layout now that are particularly photogenic. Hopefully more will develop as it matures 8)
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:27 pm

daan wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:02 pm
Nice layout, I like the half buildings at the station. The front of the shed could also be a nice way to hide an entrance into a storage siding in a garage or something. Apart from that; gradiënts are annoying, certainly for live steam and even more when you want to run without the electronics. Could it be possible to take the grade and decent again with a momentum van? I saw that someone else on the board sells these and that they can help getting steamlocomotives to behave..
If only there were room behind that engine shed - unfortunately it would be subterranean if I were to use it like that! :shock:
As for using a momentum van - that is exactly what I did initially, but this is a sort of catch up thread at the moment. I solved the problem with some re-engineering (some of which is still ongoing) which I shall detail in other posts.
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:29 pm

laalratty wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:44 pm
Most interesting, must get round to visiting at some point. Your track plan is very similar to mine, the first one I've seen that is so similar.
Haven't run a thing so far this year Christopher, but I shall eventually, and an invite will go out to the NWAGers at some point. You'll be welcome to brave the torrid weather of the windswept western dales! :lol:
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:41 pm

In early 2016, my wife finally decided to retire from her physically demanding job in the NHS, and is now taking an even more keen interest in the garden.
An unexpected bonus has been that she now appears to view the railway as an asset, rather than a liability :thumbup:
Discussions led to an exploration of what we would both like to see in the garden. For my wife - wider flowerbeds, and a pond - which I also liked the sound of - and a reappraisal of how the railway sits in the garden. In particular, the Ingleton loop was discussed. At the time it was seen as a space limited solution to solving the problem of eliminating end to end running - the intention had been to fill the loop with flowerpots in the summer. Perhaps the railway would be less intrusive if the loop was removed and it ran along the front of the patio, and down a widened border on the SW side of the garden?
Perhaps it would, I said, and how attractive the pond would look with reflections of trains passing lazily in the summer sun? And if the line was raised by only a few inches at the bottom of the garden, all the gradient issues could be solved for good ;)
Not receiving a no to these musings resulted in a rethink of how the line should be routed. The result was 'Plan B' - Ta - da!!
Garden Railway Plan2.jpg

This would require a connection to the loop at Housedown (below) as well as raising the line in the loop and over Bogg Causeway by some 3 inches (a scale 4 1/2 feet) or so, as well as provision of a water reflective viewing platform (commonly known as a bridge!).
Housedown Loopl.jpg

At the following planning meeting, tensions ran high as the result was awaited, but thankfully, there was unanimous agreement to the proposed changes
So, in the space of four or five weeks from early June 2016, the civil engineers and permanent way gangs were hard at work.
The Ingleton Loop was torn up - the cutting that led to it and one of the notorious inclines was levelled and track relaid to the same level as Black Burton.
New Cutting.jpg

The long flat run across the patio was laid (although it is only about 50% ballasted in this image) and already there has been an alteration, with a run around loop included (approved at an emergency planning meeting only this afternoon!)
Patio straight.jpg

In addition, a major geological event resulted in the appearance of a substantial expanse of water - (or is it a small pond, to represent a local major waterway?)
That extension to the line means we have now reached one of the lines long awaited goals - a crossing of the River Lune! Plans were drawn up for the bridge to span this illustrious waterway!
River Lune.jpg

So, still to do:
1. The line and West Loop at the field end to be raised 4.5 scale feet (3") along it's length (the salvaged filcris from the Ingleton loop will be utilised for this).
2. Construction of the Lune river crossing.
3. Establish a permanent way from the Lune down the west border to the west loop.
4. Establish a 'river' (the Greta) at the rockery end, with associated crossings.
5. The station for Nether Kettle will now be located at the patio end, utilising the new run round loop.
6. Make it all look fantastic so she doesn't regret her decisions!
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by Lonsdaler » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:13 pm

Despite the summer weather reverting to the norm for the Northwest of England*, the Bogg causeway was raised a scale four feet six inches, but the track had not yet gone back down. This will also require the building of some 800 scale feet of scale five foot high retaining walling! :shock:
coos and causeway.jpg
The material is recycled plastic 'lumber'. I used filcris for the Housedown and Ingleton loops, but decided to see if I could get similar material more cheaply, more locally. I found a supplier of recycled plastic, but I think you get what you pay for. After laying it out, I proceeded to have real issues with thermal expansion due to the sun, on the brief occasions it shows itself! I have endeavoured to reduce this by packing the centre space with soil (an attempt to increase it's thermal mass), and when it stops raining, it will get a quick coat of white primer to further reflect heat, which should help until the retaining walls go in. I didn't notice the filcris reacting in the same way, even on the loop laid on the patio, which was exposed to all the elements. If you go for plastic wood, I would recommend filcris in preference to other unbranded recycled plastic lumber! The dead duck on the lawn is a much loved toy belonging to my dog :roll:

In this shot, the problematic curve near the rockery has not yet been raised and levelled - still work to do there. However, the 'coo' proof backing board has seen some attention - a local mountain has come into view, though this is still a work in progress.
As you can see, my inquisitive friends are near constant companions during the summer months! :lol:
ingleborough.jpg

Because the causeway has been raised, the West loop has also been raised by a similar amount. The existing track work has been cut out (by the derelict pottery and near the piece of broken flag), ready to accept the points that will create Housedown Triangle, to join up to the crossing of the Lune (an amendment to Plan B that means I probably need to move onto plan C!). I re-used the filcris from the removed Ingleton loop for the line supports, but used plastic waste pipe for the uprights to support it. These were concreted into place - 12 months on, they seem to be working.
loop work - triangle.jpg

Work on the river crossing was unfortunately stalled somewhat, and I'll cover the building of that in a separate post.

*Although I live in North Yorkshire, I am as far west as you can get and still be in an 'eastern' county. Morecambe (aka Moribund) Bay is only 10 miles away as the crows fly. :?
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Re: A Light Railway for the Western Dales

Post by daan » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:47 pm

I guess it's a bit unrewarding to work with a crowd which continuously "boo's" your work.. :lol: You have a rather nice stretch of track this way, suitable for long trains and higher speeds..
"En schöne Gruess" from an Alpine railway in Holland.

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