The Charnwood Forest Light Railway

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Soar Valley Light
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The Charnwood Forest Light Railway

Post by Soar Valley Light » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:14 pm

Hello all,

The Charnwood Forest Light Railway is now my official title for the railway I'm working on. It makes my username a little superfluous but I don't want to start a new user name and loose all my posts!

My fictional back story has developed considerably. Those of you who have read my previous ramblings will know that I have to have an economic and engineering justification to make my line real for me and to give it purpose and reason. Those who read my Soar Valley Light Railway posts will have already read something of this and seen a first draft of the route. I've continued to work through this in my mind and on paper. I now have things sorted to the extent that I understand why the line might have been built and a fair idea of where. I have plotted it's course on a contoured plan. from this I've been able to work out areas of cut and fill and the depths of each. That allows me to put some logic in planning my garden railway to represent the line. It won't be a scale reproduction but I can now represent the railway in general. Once I tidy it up I'll post a new plan of the route (don't hold your breath!). Basically the new premise is a line running from Abbey Lane Leicester (opposite the park), running up and over the hill above Glenfield and down to Anstey. from there it follows the route previously posted (in the Soar Valley topic) with only minor detours. The stations and halts have altered a little too. They would now be:-

Leicester Abbey - terminus and small yard for general goods

Abbey Lane sidings - alongside the GCR and on a short branch, this would be for mineral traffic exchange primarily.

Somewhere between the two of these I need to work in the loco shed, works and carriage sidings.

Anstey - platform and a goods siding, possibly two. (no loop)

Cropston - platform and goods siding (no loop)

Swithland Halt - Platform only

Woodhouse - Platform, loop and goods siding. Branch to slate quarry (long siding really)

Beacon Halt - platform only

Oaks - Platform and siding

Shepshed - Platform and siding. Terminus of Public railway.

The line continues for about half a mile as a long siding to the Granite quarry (near Jct 23 of the M1).

The premise for the construction of the railway still centres around the imagined re-opening of the Swithland slate quarries on a commercial scale. There would be little justification for the railway continuing to Shepshed though (it's most expensive section to construct) for general traffic alone, nor even for granite traffic from the large quarry there; it was already served by the standard gauge Charnwood Forest Railway (by now part of the LNWR empire). To get round this I've imagined the discovery of further and more extensive deposits of Swithland slate on the southern edge of the granite quarry there, making the railway construction more worthwhile.

Even these premises would be unlikely to have stimulated construction of the railway on their own. An additional trigger was needed to make the construction seem plausible to me. When the GCR was planned it was intended that it would go around the reservoir being constructed at Swithland and pass close to the village of that name, before continuing to Anstey and entering the city of Leicester from a more north westerly direction. Lord Lanesborough had no intention of having the view from Swithland Hall spoiled by the new railway and it's trains and was influential enough in Parliament to block this route sending it further East and missing Anstey altogether. (Ansteys loss was Rothleys gain!). Leicester council took a very dim view of this, being very keen to get Anstey on the railway map to aid it's growth and development. Up to here the story is fact. Here's my imaginary twist. With both the GCR and Leicester council unhappy about these forced changesto the main line they entered negotiations to design and build a light railway to take advantage of the small but specialist mineral traffic and to put Anstey on the map in the process. The route favours narrow gauge to allow the line to hug the contours and to climb the hills, the quantities of traffic would be relatively small and so capacity would not need to be vast either. My view is that money from the council with some further support, partially financial but primarily technical, from the GC, would have been sufficient, along with local support, to finance the railway and operate it.

How the lines history developed I'm not sure yet. There would have certainly been a period of independent operation and it would probably have met it's end around the time of WW2. With the tie up to the GCR it's also quite likely that it may have been taken over at some stage by them or that it may have been grouped into the LNER. That bit still has to be worked out in my head!

More will follow here as all this surfaces, in the meantime, construction in the garden is really under way now. It will still be very slow, the terra forming will go on for some time yet, but some formation and structural work has now been completed and we're finally out of the ground! Further progress reports will be posted as and when but they won't be that frequent for the time being. Watch this space!

Andrew
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Post by MDLR » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:33 pm

I hate to have to tell you this, but there's already a Charnwood Forest Garden Railway...................... in the station yard at Rothley!
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Post by Soar Valley Light » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:48 pm

Brian,

As a long serving GCR volunteer I'm well aware of that. There was also a Charnwood Forest Railway. My line is neither, it is the Charnwood Forest LIGHT railway.

I've toyed with other names but this seems the most likely to have been chosen (IMHO)

Andrew
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Post by Peter Butler » Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:16 pm

Excellent news Andrew... all of the reasons for not starting have now been brushed aside and nothing can stand in the way of progress.
Even pictures of groundworks are somehow helpful, especially when you receive encouraging replies.
More power to your shovel!!!!
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Post by Dwayne » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:06 am

Andrew, sounds like a winner. Looking forward to photos.

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Post by Soar Valley Light » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:25 pm

If all has gone to plan there is a picture of the formation construction work at Abbey Lane station above this little update. The levels have been trimmed and covered with standard gauge geotextile leading to a french drain. The station is the area to the right of the slabbed yard. Beyond you may just be able to make out an operating well which will be bridged by the station throat area. This was a discovery of the yard resurfacing which was the start point for redesigning the whole garden (apart from some path construction at the other end of the garden, as yet incomplete until I can move some plants, which will allow the old path to be closed off and the railway built across it). The operating well used to be a set of steps down to a side gate in the wall on the right (we live on a corner plot). The remains of the walls and steps had simply been filled in. I've dug them out and reconstructed them to fit better with the railway plans. The other discovery was an eight foot deep four foot diameter mortar and bitumen lined surface water tank. I couldn't think of a way to include this in the railway (and it was two feet from the back door!) so that was covered over again and is just under the slabs in the picture. (The edging slabs sit on the outside of the collar). More pics to follow in due course (provided I've got the uploading process right!)

Image
Last edited by Soar Valley Light on Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Post by Stephen Jack Wallbank » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:29 pm

You could use the tank as a very big pond :D

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Post by Peter Butler » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:27 pm

That garden and that picture could only be yours Andrew! After all the detailed description of how it should be done I can see you are following your own rules and being particular with the preparation work. This will pay dividends in the future even if it takes that little bit longer.
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Post by Soar Valley Light » Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:55 pm

rThank you Peter. Those words coming from you mean a great deal. The ancillary wok is going to take a long time but it has to be so if the railway is going to be worthwhile. Construction started on the Granite wall to the left of the operating pit this afternoon. I can't believe how much mortar this form of construction takes!

I've been thinking about track levels and gradients a good deal and will continue to do so for a little while yet. You can probably see that the main garden down the slope is lower by about 18 to 20 inches. The main part of the railway will be a loop round the lower garden. The upper terminus will branch off from it at the far end of the garden and run along the right hand side next to the boundary wall, climbing up to the terminus.

The main loop will be mainly level, maybe a very slight fall back towards the house no more than an inch or two at the most. It will be built up above (present) ground level though, so the level difference on the track will be less than that on the ground. To be honest there will be so much landscaping down there that some of the railway will be in cutting by the time I've finished!

Thanks for the encouragement,

Andrew
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Post by Soar Valley Light » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:30 pm

The things this hobby gets you involved in!

I've spent several evenings this week working on a short stretch of stone walling that will form the back of the operating pit at Abbey station (and prevent the unwary users of the main path to the house falling into it!) I'm going to struggle to pick up for free (or transport) sufficient stone to make a solid stone wall, so I'm building two outer faces in stone and infilling with a rubble concrete mix. It's a tricky old job getting the right stone for the right place without leaving unsightly mortar infill. For the fill I'm mainly using a mix of broken concrete (the old yard surface) smashed up into lumps no bigger that 1" square, mixed with sand and cement in the ratio of about 1 cement: 3 sand: 4 rubble. Does this sound sensible for the core fill of a wall? The wall is only about 5 feet long and 3 feet high so the mixes are small as I'm bringing it up in stages. In such small quantities the sand/cement slurry doesn't coat and bind the rubble too well so this afternoon I tried filling between the stones with dry rubble then pouring in a very wet slurry mix to bind them. It seemed to work but I shan't know for sure until it's had a few days to go off.

I think the return wall at the end nearest the house will be in brick to give the suggestion of a more urban and industrial area. The Abbey area of Leicester is very old and does have a fair amount of stone construction (especially rubble walls!) but is more predominantly brick when it comes to later industrial construction. Seeing as this is the location from which the GCR strode out across the city on blue brick viaducts, and given the GC connection in my history, I may build at least some of this in blues. I need to raid more skips as my brick supply is running low now!

I'll try and get one or two pictures over the weekend to post on here.

All the best,

Andrew
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"'cause I can't manage on three gaffer!"

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Post by Soar Valley Light » Sat Aug 22, 2015 5:17 pm

Sorry about these photos people, I simply can't get them to post upright!

Image

This is the operating pit for Abbey station from the other direction. You can see the wall under construction in the centre fore ground.


Image

Here is the wall construction (as promised). You can see the outer stone walls and the in-situ concrete infill. The construction seems reasonably sound so far. Today's mix of slurry to rubble was a little less precise and the slurry was a tad too liquid. Some topping up will be required before the next lift I think. It highlighted another aspect for future construction. I thought I'd got all the joints between the stonework fully mortared but there was an outflow of slurry from two places. I need to be more watertight in future!


Image

Just for interest, here is the main soil dump in the main part of the garden, stockpiled ready for landscaping work.


Image

And finally - here's the gravel quarry I've been working to provide bedding material for the new path. I could have done with my own 2' gauge line to carry all this material around!

I'll update you when there is further progress to report.

Andrew
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Post by Peter Butler » Sat Aug 22, 2015 6:53 pm

Wonderful.... great to see progress and how it's coming forward in stages.
Photographs mean so much more than words on their own can describe and even if they do require a little physical activity to view they are well worth the effort.
Thanks.
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Post by Alan P » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:35 am

Soar Valley Light:112844 wrote:Sorry about these photos people, I simply can't get them to post upright!

Image

This is the operating pit for Abbey station from the other direction. You can see the wall under construction in the centre fore ground.


Image

Here is the wall construction (as promised). You can see the outer stone walls and the in-situ concrete infill. The construction seems reasonably sound so far. Today's mix of slurry to rubble was a little less precise and the slurry was a tad too liquid. Some topping up will be required before the next lift I think. It highlighted another aspect for future construction. I thought I'd got all the joints between the stonework fully mortared but there was an outflow of slurry from two places. I need to be more watertight in future!


Image

Just for interest, here is the main soil dump in the main part of the garden, stockpiled ready for landscaping work.


Image

And finally - here's the gravel quarry I've been working to provide bedding material for the new path. I could have done with my own 2' gauge line to carry all this material around!

I'll update you when there is further progress to report.

Andrew
Andrew, any basic Graphics Software program will allow you to rotate images. I would recommend something like Paint Shop Pro,
it's very easy to use (it must be if i can use it!) and the older versions are available to download for free.
Alan.

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Post by Soar Valley Light » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:50 pm

Thanks Alan,

The problem is that they are the right way up in my pictures folder. I've tried rotating them through 90 to put them on their other side (in the hope that the 90 shift in posting would straighten them up) but they STILL post on here on their sides!

Those who know me well will tell you that I'm unlucky when it comes to technology well beyond what can be considered normal!

I'll keep trying,

Andrew
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Post by Alan P » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:01 pm

I know the feeling!

Here's your first picture correctly orientated, i simply did a screen grab and used Paint Shop Pro to rotate the image.

Image
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