The Branch Line Society


Apedale Valley Light Railway
Sunday 2nd October 2016

This 2ft gauge line - MR p23 - (OP 14 Aug 2010) is to the west of the Potteries in Apedale Country Park. On a lovely, thankfully dry, autumn morning a full party (18) visited. There was a repeat performance in the afternoon, both with the very suitable rather 'cosy' 'Hayfield & Whaley Bridge Light Railway' coach to reach every nook and cranny of the complex railway!


'I am sure that we did lay some track here you know!'
[Brian Elliott]

The 500yd public run is from Silverdale station north to Apedale Road, with rounding loops each end so unusual track is difficult to get. We last visited, again twice, on 30 Oct 2011 (report BLN 1153 p34) and the railway has expanded considerably since. The track map was particularly useful! The Moseley Railway Trust here aims to 'preserve, conserve and interpret' industrial narrow gauge railways.

At 10.30 prompt, loco DH887 (BD3756/1981) propelled the coach to the buffers at Silverdale station (adjacent to Apedale Heritage Centre, the site of its former colliery). Then it was off through the run-round loop to the other end of the line at Apedale Road station. A swift run-round allowed the other loop and end of line to be visited (again the coach was against the buffers). This very friendly railway fully understood our needs and all track that was suitable for a passenger train or not occupied by the vast collection of stock was visited. As in 2011, a thorough meticulous operating plan was followed.

[John Cameron]

The single connection to the rest of the railway was taken just north of Silverdale station. The tour first visited the Aurora Works (the two lines nearest the main line; the curvature and clearances were too tight on the third). Aurora North Shed followed (all three roads going well inside on No1 nearest to the main line) with engine 13 (MR11142/1960) taking over. The two locos followed each other around all morning, swapping over to keep dwell time to a minimum as running round was not possible at most locations. Very efficient! Road 'Brian', was also visited (named after a member) behind the shed with an embankment to one side, it is a headshunt for three other lines.

In the north siding at 'Loos Loop' (not a loop yet!).
[John Cameron]

Now we know why it's called a 'Field Railway'! On the left Gary Lonsdale takes stock and to his right, Martyn Brailsford (with glasses) is plotting.
This is the end of the headshunt for the Trench Tramway (which the other green loco is standing on); top left is the 1:13 climb up the 'Ski Jump'
to the Waterhouses Triangle area. The 'top level' line runs left to right in front of the containers.

'Brian' suitably traversed, it was off south for a left turn past the site of the future museum (where foundations are laid and the four tracks built to the entrance) to become the first ever passenger train on the Field Railway. This is east of the main run, built to recreate and remember the important role of such narrow gauge railways in WWI. The well attended public re-enactment days are impressive and well worth a visit. This lightly laid large railway has a complicated layout. Starting on the top level the traverser and sidings were passed on the right before reaching the future 'Loos Loop' at the extremity, currently north and south dead end sidings.

On return, the tour turned right at 'Waterhouses Triangle South Jn' to cross the North to East Curve there at right angles on the level reaching the points for the sidings at Brian's Barn, a Field Railway container. Backtracking to reverse at the South Jn, the tight curve 'down' (literally at 1:13 and known as the 'Ski Jump') was cautiously followed to the third branch extremity which is the headshunt for the Trench Tramway. It disappeared under long grass (above).

Here Vanguard (RH195846/1939) and a 6-seat riding vehicle were waiting and made three return trips (with full overlap) to take the whole group along the 'Trench Tramway'; even more lightly laid than the rest. There are good views of some recreated typical WWI trenches. The first trip struggled in the long grass but, with skilful driving and sanding, it became progressively easier. Thankfully, all was quiet on the Western Front! Finally, it was up the 1:13 incline this time (had it been wet this would not have been possible) to the remaining Waterhouses Triangle East to North Jns side, over the flat crossing in the 'other' direction to complete the most interesting layout which is due to be further expanded. Returning far behind the front line, the tour finished back at the main station.

Approaching the headshunt from the other direction, the Trench Tramway trails in left.

The spotters among the group were taken around the site by the knowledgeable and very friendly volunteer staff who helped identify the many locos as the afternoon participants started to arrive. Containers were opened revealing yet more locos.

Passing the trenches, appropriately on the Trench Tramway, which was done in groups of six at a time. The participants waiting top right are
near the head shunt shown in the previous picture. This section is very reminiscent of the closed Duchal Moor Grouse Shooting Railway
(BLN 1255.842, with picture in e-BLN 1253.X36).

Many thanks to our member John Cameron for organising this fantastic visit and to the railway (Simon Lomax particularly) for hosting us. As usual with our visits, we knew we were on to a winner when the drivers and guard said that it was the first time that they had been to some of the places on a train!