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Steeple Grange Light Railway

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Title: Steeple Grange Light Railway  
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Subject: Heritage railways in England, List of British heritage and private railways, Greenwood & Batley, Rushden Cavalcade, Visitor attractions in Derbyshire
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Steeple Grange Light Railway

Steeple Grange Light Railway
Locale Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England
Terminus Steeple Grange
Commercial operations
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Length 12 mile (0.80 km)
Preserved gauge 18 in (457 mm)
Preservation history
1985 opened

The Steeple Grange Light Railway is a heritage railway at Wirksworth in Derbyshire, UK. It uses industrial locomotives and rolling stock from disused mines, quarries, and steelworks around the country.


  • The line 1
  • Locomotives 2
    • Greenbat 2.1
    • ZM32 Horwich 2.2
    • Hudson 2.3
    • Claytons 2.4
    • Ladywash mine No.6 2.5
  • See also 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5

The line

The Steeple Grange is a 12-mile (0.80 km) 18 in (457 mm) gauge narrow gauge line, built in 1985 on the former Killer's Branch line from Steeple House Junction of the Cromford and High Peak Railway and Middleton Quarry in Derbyshire.[1] The line features a steep 1:27 (3.7 %) gradient incline from the back of the engine shed to halfway up Killer's Branch. A crossover exists halfway up the hill as well as sidings on the site of Dark Lane mine, soon to be the coaching stock shed.

Two extensions are being studied seriously:

  1. The National Stone Centre has expressed a wish to see the light railway build a line on the old trackbed to its facilities, which would provide a link to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway
  2. The railway also wishes to extended the incline to the level crossing next to Middleton Quarry.


The SGLR has two operational passenger locomotives, two permanent way/works locomotives and many others under restoration.


The railway's main locomotive is Greenbat, a 1.5 ton, 5HP "trammer" type battery locomotive built by Greenwood and Batley of Leeds. Greenbat incorporated a folding cab, to allow the locomotive to fit down small mineshafts. It was ordered by a steel mill, who specifically requested the cab be fixed. Greenbat herself has never been underground, working in various steel mills.

Greenbat was preserved by Adrian Booth, who passed it on to the SGLR when the line was in its infancy. She was fitted with air braking, and coupled to an ex-NCB manrider has provided nearly 15 years of service. In 2005 she received new batteries, the old ones having last 15 years out of a lifespan of 10.

Motor: 1x GB type T2 Drive: worm and wheel to each axle Voltage: 48V, Lead acid batteries

ZM32 Horwich

This locomotive is the only 18 in (457 mm) gauge Ruston and Hornsby LAT in existence. She was bought by British railways to work at their Horwich works in Lancashire, and was preserved alongside Wren at the National Railway Museum. When she was sold off, she was going to be sent to a banana plantation in South America. However, she languished in Liverpool docks until bought for the Gloddfa Ganol Museum in Wales. Here, she was regauged to 2 ft (610 mm) and restored to working order. When Gloddfa Ganol closed, she was bought by an SGLR member, restored to 18 in gauge and fitted with airbraking.

A gearbox failure led to her being taken to Dorothea Restorations for a complete overhaul. She is now back on the line, in lined out BR green, and used alternately with Greenbat. She was recently voted the most popular non-steam narrow gauge locomotive .

Engine: Ruston and Hornsby 20HP diesel Transmission: Hydraulic, 2 gear box


This locomotive is quite an oddity, being home built. The SGLR was originally started with stock from Ladywash Mine, near Eyam in Derbyshire. The only locomotive was No.6, which was in a very poor, nonfunctioning state. Before Greenbat arrived, it was decided that one of the four wheel Ladywash Hudson manriders should be converted to a locomotive. This was done by Alwyn Ambrey in 1988, using a villiers engine and transmission from a cricket pitch roller. It resulted in being able to seat 2 passengers and the driver. Unfortunately, the drive was geared too highly for the engine to cope with the gradient on the line. This, and the engine being in poor state, meant it was used very little. The locomotive was worked on by various people in the late 1990s, finally being finished by J Scott in 2003. Scott refurbished the engine, thus largely solving the underpowering problem, and fitted a much better braking system. Two years later, a new engine was found. It is basically the same as the old one, but has a 3:1 reduction gearbox fitted. Although there is still some tinkering to be done, this addition has greatly improved the locomotives haulage.

Engine: 312 HP Villiers Mk25 with reduction box Transmission: Cup and cone reversing clutch and chain drive


The railway has three battery Claytons of similar designs in private ownership. L10 (works Order No. 5431 of January 1968) and L16 (W/O No. B0109B of March 1973, named Peggy) are 134 ton, 7HP low height locomotives. They were both bought directly from industrial use. Peggy has recently been restored to operating condition, and is running using the redundant 15-year-old batteries from Greenbat. Peggy is fitted with a cam-contactor controller and resistances for speed control.

"Lady Marjorie" is a compact 7HP, 134 ton Clayton. Designed to work in 4 ft diameter sewer pipes, she even has a "barn roof" style battery box top to make maximum use of confined space. She has an electronic controller, as opposed to the more usual resistance type.

Ladywash mine No.6

This was the first locomotive on the railway, being bought with a large amount of track and rolling stock from Ladywash Mine, near Eyam in Derbyshire. She is a 10HP, 3 ton design also from Greenwood and Batley.

She spent all her working life at Ladywash, acquiring some interested but highly useful modifications-her works phot appears in Adrian Booths book on Greenwood and Batley, and is quite interesting to contrast with her current form. She was also fitted with a thyristor controller, which was removed before being sold.

She arrived at the SGLR in a poor state of repair, which along with the lack of controller meant she got dumped around various sidings untouched. Eventually she was bought in 2004, and work finally started on her restoration.

Following removal from the site for shotblasting, the frames have been repainted and simultaneously the axleboxes overhauled. Now back on site, she is currently a rolling chassis with brake gear being overhauled. Where necessary new parts are being machined by her owner.

Work is also currently underway on the manufacture of a replacement controller, making use of contactors and resistances from other electrical machines.

Future work includes overhaul of the two traction motors, some attention to one of the gearboxes and re-cabling prior to reassembly.

Motors: 2x GB type T2 Batteries: 60V lead-acid Weight: 3 tons new, 314-312 tons with modifications

See also

External links

  • The Steeple Grange Light Railway Official site


  1. ^ "Steeple Grange Light Railway". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
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