© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
The Telford Horsehay Steam Trust has been
around for nearly 30 years, based at the old
Horsehay Company's loco shed, on the route of
the Wellington (Ketley) - Buildwas line,
formerly a through route to Craven Arms. The
line south of Much Wenlock closed to
passengers at the end of 1951, although freight
lingered on until 1964 between Ketley and
Longville. In the meantime, the passenger
service to Wenlock finished on 21st July 1962. The only
remaining use for the line was then occasional traffic for the
works at Horsehay - Adamson Alliance, later part of the
Butterley Company, would send out fabricated steel bridges
and other structures from time to time. This traffic would be
worked down the remaining metals via Doseley to Lightmoor
Junction, where it would then join the Madeley Junction to
Ironbridge power station line (the line from Madeley Junction
to Lightmoor Junction was originally a branch
off the main route). I can recall seeing these
workings on the branch in the mid-70s - even
having to wait at Doseley level crossing one
morning for such a train. Sadly, I never had a
camera with me. The route from Lightmoor
Junction to the power station still sees traffic
to this day.
By the time the traffic to Horsehay finally ended,
in 1979, THST had been in existence for 3 years. Unfortunately
they were unable to prevent the lifting of most of the track
down to Lightmoor Junction, and the trackbed was later severed
by the construction of the Ironbridge by-pass
And so we come to the 21st anniversary. By 1984, ex-GWR 0-6-2T
no. 5619 was in full working order, and the
railway began to run passenger trips from a
platform in the works sidings, just outside the
loco shed, up to Heath Hill tunnel, then back
down to Horsehay and Dawley station on the
"main line". The spring bank holiday weekend
would see celebrations to mark 21 years of such a
service, and the hiring in of much-travelled
pannier tank no. 6430 from Llangollen (5619 is
currently at the reconstruction phase of extensive restoration
work - frames and bunker being on display outside the shed).
Also in action would be resident Peckett 1722 of 1926 "Rocket", a
class 104 DMU, and the unique 1984 Leyland Railbus RB004. This
latter vehicle would not be carrying any passengers - my first
impression was that it no longer had any seats.
I'm assured it has the normal complement - but at
present, it can only be driven from one end, the
real reason for its empty journeys.
The railway has ambitious plans for the future.
For the short term, clearance of land to the north
of Heath Hill tunnel is progressing, with the aim
of constructing a small station and run-round
loop. To the south, track has been
re-laid towards Doseley level crossing, but the
major obstacle of the Ironbridge by-pass remains.
The tunnel marked the summit of the line from
Wellington, and the gradient down to the station
is a challenging 1 in 40. The by-pass cuts through
an embankment which will have to be raised at
both sides to give sufficient clearance for road
traffic, although I was assured by a member of
the railway that the maximum gradient from
Lightmoor to a new bridge would not exceed the
1 in 40 in place further north.
Further plans (I think we're getting into the significantly
longer-term now) involve getting down to the power
station, then reversing along the scenic riverside
stretch to Ironbridge. Some of the ingredients for this
plan are falling into place - the power station has a
limited life now, probably no more than 10 years.
Between Lightmoor junction and the power station, the
line down through historic Coalbrookdale is double
track, but the box at Lightmoor is due to close shortly -
and one line of metals down the dale will become
redundant. Perhaps, with appropriate motive power and
coaching stock, a passenger service on this stretch is
not too far away.
Clearly this is one to watch!
Telford Steam Railway
Pannier 6430 in action, accompanied by Rocket and