© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
Industrial systems always had a certain charm - especially the
narrow gauge lines, with their invariably wonky trackwork,
and locomotives that are aptly described by our cousins
across the Atlantic as "critters". Here are three such systems
in Yorkshire, long disappeared... On both occasions I was
staying near York, and both trips were "shorties" (the Alne
trip was combined with a spell beside the main line too).
8 December 1979: Hemingbrough Brickworks was a few miles
east of Selby, not far from the Selby - Hull line. The attraction
here was no less than six 2' gauge locomotives - the most recent
arrivals being a pair of Motor Rails, ex-preservation, from the
late Crockway Light Railway in Dorset. One of these, MR 8644 of
1941 "Druid", was clearly in regular use, though this being a
Saturday, it was resting at the head of a rake of v-skips. The
other five locomotives lay scattered around, off the rails, in
varying states of disrepair... Druid is now a little better known
(and quite different in appearance) at the Abbey Light Railway,
Leeds. The green MR7494, top left, is now splendidly restored
(left) and resident on a light railway being built in North
Yorkshire next to the Esk valley branch line.
Hemingbrough was definitely a working railway; our call on the
way back was an ex-railway. Henry Oakland and Sons' Escrick Tile
Works was still very much a going concern, but the railway was
clearly no longer in use, and its two Motor Rails stood forlorn,
one on a partly lifted length of track. I couldn't see their
dismantled Ruston - I must admit I didn't try very hard.
11 August 1983: A few years later, I paid a visit to another
mud-'ole a few miles north of York, at the Alne Brick
Company. There was only one locomotive here - yet
another Motor Rail, no. 8694 of 1943, which is now
preserved at Bursledon Brickworks in Hampshire. I'd looked
in here in May 1981, but nothing was doing. In August
1983, the railway was in operation, and I was able to make
a fair record of this little railway.
My last attempt to photograph a "mud-'ole" railway was at
William Blyth's Far Ings Tileries, in the shadow of the Humber
bridge, back in 1998. Sadly, the locomotive had failed. I'm
not sure whether it ever worked again - today, it's classed
as "out of use", and is unlikely to work there again. Far
Ings was the last claypit railway in Britain. No more
critters in the mud-'oles...
Industrial Railway Society
Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways
See also Rail Diaries entry "Abbey Light Railway"