S. A. Leleux
An industrial railway served the transport needs of, generally, a single company. It might be just transport within a factory, mine, quarry, etc, or it might link the firm’s premises with long distance transport in the form of canal, dock, road or main line railway. Many industrial lines served both aspects. The first railways and the first steam locomotives were all industrials.
The gauge of industrial railways varied from standard (or even 7ft in GW broad gauge areas, and 5ft 4in in a Scottish nuclear facility) down. The narrowest I have seen was 11 inches in a lead mine. Standard gauge lines usually, but by no means always, included a connection to a main line railway. The commonest narrow gauges were 2ft (or thereabouts) and 3ft, although gauges from 18in or less up to 4ft 6in existed.
Photo: ROBERT 0-6-0ST Avonside 2068 of 1938 with iron ore dump cars at the narrow gauge tip, Scaldwell Quarries, Northamptonshire 7-9-1961
Standard gauge steam industrial locomotives were typically outside cylinder 0-4-0ST and inside or outside cylinder 0-6-0ST or, less frequently, 0-6-0T. 0-4-0Ts were uncommon and inside cylinder 0-4-0s were rare. The various firms building industrial locomotives had their own distinctive features – for example, the products of Andrew Barclay, Manning Wardle, or Peckett are as dissimilar as those of Crewe, Doncaster or Swindon. Main line locomotives were sometimes sold into industry, and not always locally. For example, LSWR B4 0-4-0T worked in the West Midlands and in North Yorkshire, and a L&Y 0-4-0ST worked in south London. Diesels raged from small 40hp mechanical transmission locomotives to BoBo diesel electrics. Many class 03, 08 and D95XX shunters, and even some class 20, were sold to industrial users. Electric locomotives, from batteries or overhead wire, were to be found. Self propelled cranes, steam or diesel, sometimes with buffers and drawgear for light shunting, were not uncommon. Standard locomotives sometimes had reduced height cabs, or even no cab at all, in order to work under low bridges or similar. Fireless steam locomotives were used in areas with a high risk of fire where the factory could provide a supply of steam. Various designs of crane tank were occasionally to be found. Active steam had largely disappeared by the early 1970s, although for some years a number of places still had a steamer as spare to the diesel which had replaced it.
Photo: 3ft gauge SCALDWELL 0-6-0ST Peckett 1316 of 1913 backing loaded tippers on to the tip at Scaldwell Quarries. The previously emptied rake of tippers have been released from the loop and the loco will collect them in a nearby dip. 7-9-1961
Narrow gauge steam locomotives were mainly outside cylindered 4 & 6-coupled tanks, side or saddle, sometimes with a rear pony truck. Active steam had disappeared by the early 1960s, since from WW2 petrol and diesel locomotives, had become increasingly common, with battery or overhead wire electric used in mines and tunnelling contracts.
Photo: 3rd rail Metrovick locomotive and steel tippers on the isolated railway in Highstead Chalk Pit, near Sittingbourne, Kent. 22-10-1960
Locomotive livery was often medium to dark green, but red, blue, black and orange were used, and from around 1960 sometimes with black and yellow stripes on the ends. In more recent times all over yellow has become very common, with white for underground use. Lining, if used, was restricted to steam locomotives, and could be quite elaborate. Names were usually on brass plates, but numbers might be on plates or just painted on. The company’s name or initials might be painted on the tank as well. The paint job could be as simple or elaborate as the firm wanted.
Photo: 2ft 6in gauge UNIQUE 2-4-0 Fireless Bagnall 2216 of 1923, being charged with steam from Kemsey Paper Mill’s boilers at Bowater's, Sittingbourne, Kent. 22-10-1960
Rolling stock on standard gauge systems usually included many vehicles worked in from the main line, but in addition there were often vehicles for internal use only. These could range from second hand main line wagons (marked internal use) and the very occasional carriage for staff, to wooden single-side tippers, slag ladles and 24-wheel (4x6-wheel bogies) torpedo ladles carrying 250 tons of liquid steel. On the narrow gauge, quarries mainly used wooden single side tippers or steel V-skips, with U-skips or tubs (emptied by inversion in a tippler) underground.
Photo: 2ft 6in gauge ALPHA 0-6-2T Bagnall 2472 of 1932 at Ridham Dock, heading a scheduled passenger train to Sittingbourne on Bowater’s system. Note lining, spark arresting chimney and cab side windows. 11-6-1960
Signalling was usually absent. Engine sheds ranged from brick or corrugated iron buildings to stabling under a convenient bridge or even no shed at all. A red board with white lettering stating ‘BR engines must not pass this board’ was normally near the main line connection. An industrial locomotive normally did not venture on to main line tracks, unless it carried a main line registration plate. Although many industrial locomotives were scrapped soon after withdrawal, some languished, sometimes literally for years, in a quiet corner, becoming steadily more rusty and often overgrown.
Photo: Part of the Penrhyn Quarries’ scrap line at Bethesda, near Bangor, on 17-8-1961. 1ft 10¾in gauge locomotives, from the right, are: LILLA 0-4-0ST Hunslet 554 of 1891, SGT MURPHY 0-6-0T Kerr Stuart 3117 of 1918, and LILLIAN 0-4-0ST Hunslet 317 of 1893. 17-8-1961
While locomotive haulage predominated, continuous cable, horse and man power were also used, particularly on narrow gauge lines. Rope worked inclines existed, on standard gauge as well as narrow.
There was plenty of variety on industrial systems, and some remain in operation today.
Photo: BLUE JOHN B-B DH Hunslet-Barclay 773 of 1990 in the main line sidings serving Hope Cement Works, Derbyshire. 26-7-1996
The Society's Library at Butterley has an industrial railway section .
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