Staffs industrial steam preservation
10 October 2004
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The Foxfield railway is an unusual little setup in the rolling Staffordshire countryside near Blythe Bridge. Unusual in a number of ways - including its fearsome gradients, its large stock of ex-industrial steam and diesel locomotives, several of which are unique and historically significant - and the fact that the line was never part of the BR network, and never carried regular passenger services. Pride of place must go to three locomotives built in the 19th century - Bellerophon, built in 1874 at Haydock Foundry, Beyer Peacock 1827 of 1879, and No. 6, built by Robert Heath in 1885. But don't forget the others - for example the two crane tanks, both very different, or the most unusual little Kerr Stuart saddle tank (no. 4388 of 1926) which looks for all the world as though it was built to 2' gauge and then grew until it fitted the standard gauge. My wife, looking at it, suggested that its saddle tank had shrunk in the wash. I think I knew what she meant. Some of the diesels are worth a second glance - especially the Kerr Stuart 6wDM no. 4421 of 1929, a representative of that company's desperate attempts to stay afloat in the dark days of the depression.
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
Today's locomotive in steam was "Hawarden", a chunky and powerful 0-4- 0ST built in 1940 by Bagnalls of Stafford, works no. 2623. We took a ride along the pleasantly scenic route to Dilhorne Park, where the train runs round before returning to the line's HQ at Caverswall Road. Beyond Dilhorne Park, the line descends one of those gradients mentioned earlier to the former Foxfield Colliery, a short section of track which does not see regular passenger traffic yet. On our previous visit, perhaps ten years ago, a little Barclay 0-4- 0ST had struggled noisily to get its two-coach train up to Dilhorne. Hawarden seemed to make light work of what was probably a heavier train of two ex-BR Mk II coaches, in the attractive if somewhat non-authentic early BR maroon and cream livery. Yet another pleasant little outing to a line which, despite its relative seniority in the preservation field, still has some potential. Link: Foxfield Railway
In the shed - Moss Bay KS4167 of 1920 Bellerophon - Haydock Foundry "C" of 1874 The Kerr Stuart diesel 4421 of 1929 Lewisham (WB2221 of 1927) and Roker (RSHN 7006 of 1940) Wimblebury HE3839 of 1956 Ancient locos - BP1827 of 1879 and Heath of 1885 That unusual little Kerr Stuart 4388 of 1926 Hawarden arrives at Caverswall Road WD 820 (AKA WD 123) Bg/DC of 1941 Hawarden runs round at Dilhorne Park Steam in the woods - Hawarden at Dilhorne Park Ready to depart from Dilhorne Park Cab action