The Branch Line Society


Leighton Buzzard Flying Sander
Saturday 12th April 2014

Thanks to local member Bill Davis, 59 members, (including a new one on the day), enjoyed a fascinating visit to the 2’ gauge Leighton Buzzard Light Railway (LBR). Following complimentary refreshments at Dobber’s* Café the party left platform 1 at Pages Park double headed by Simplex locos. No.43 Trotter of 1954 and No.44 of 1941. After setting back to the end of line headshunt, used for running round, the tour drew forward onto the main line and set back through platform 2, again into the headshunt. The yard, locomotive and carriage shed were then visited, first to the end of the yard shunting neck and then each road in turn from north to south. The tour ran in the shed to the end of line on the clear northernmost road, then the others which were occupied, as far as possible. Returning to platform 2, the train took the main line, exactly three miles end to end, to Stonehenge Works with photo stops at Leedon Loop and Vandyke Road crossing. At the latter, the remains of the Chamberlain's Barn branch were inspected; the disconnected track was overgrown and buried but discernible.

At Stonehenge Works, the locomotives were detached. The leading coach was then top and tailed with Simplex locos No.17 Damredub and No.34 Red Rum, both of 1936 vintage, to traverse the siding within the station loop, then both top and bottom yards covering literally all available track, and as far as safely possible to Munday’s Hill. Participants noted nearly ¼ mile of track (in various stages of deterioration) beyond, once part of the former main line to Double Arches Sand Quarry, still in production. It was surprising how lengthy some of the yard sidings were. Three identical tours ran allowing maximum track coverage for all, the duration reducing with each run as the staff became more familiar with the point clipping/blocking arrangements.

Most of the storage sheds were opened for the inspection of locomotives and stock including the ex RAF Chilmark battery electric loco No.NG 23 scheduled as the main train locomotive but unfortunately failed a few days before. Members could also travel on the steam 7¼” miniature railway running specially, included in their donation, behind 0-6-0PT Bill and socialise while sampling refreshments bought from the shop.

The train re-assembled and set back along the Munday’s Hill line to cover the other side of the loop (formerly the main running line in sand carrying days), returning to Pages Park platform 1 behind locos. 43 and 44 with a further photo stop at Vandyke Road and a spirited run up Marley Bank. We are very grateful to the many volunteers who turned out at LBR on a non-running day for us and opened all the facilities especially at this very friendly railway.

(*A Dobber was a sand digger before mechanisation).