I had been staying in Reading, and made the journey across
to a friend's near Bristol, so I took the opportunity to visit
one or two industrial sites on the way.
23rd August: Starter for the day was the Buckinghamshire works
of Marlow Sand and Gravel, home to a small fleet of Motor-Rail
"Simplex" 2'0" gauge diesels. In operation on this occasion were
no 3 (MR5867 of 1934) and no 5 (MR21283 of 1965), taking turns
to work between the excavator on the edge of the water-filled
pit and the tipper. Sadly, this line ceased operation shortly after
Next port of call was the Oxfordshire site of Alan Keef Ltd, the
well-known builder and renovator of narrow gauge equipment.
Many locomotives were present, of a wide variety of gauges and
types - illustrated are a sample - "Sue", a 2'0" gauge Ruston
(RH476106 of 1964) and "Dinmor", a 3'0" gauge Fowler dating
from 1947 (JF3900011). Alan Keef moved his business a year or
two later to Lea Line in the Forest of Dean; annual open days are
held, takings going to local charity.
I drove on to Wiltshire, heading for Kingston Minerals Ltd at
Corsham. Here, stone was mined for building purposes, and a
fleet of three locomotives was in use - a battery electric
underground and a pair of Rustons on the surface. There was no
activity on the 2'6" gauge railway at the time of my visit, though
a worker kindly started up the illustrated loco, which stood
coupled to a flat wagon carrying several large blocks of the
25th August: After an excellent day walking on the Mendips with
my friend, I headed for the quarries which are (very slowly)
causing them to be removed..... I aimed first of all for the ARC
Whatley quarry, where a fleet of four Thomas Hill 4w diesels
were in use. The locos illustrated are nos. 1 and 3, TH133c of
1963 and 152v of 1965. The "c" in the former locomotive's works
number signifies that it is a rebuild of a Sentinel steam loco.
This quarry is still in use, though three of the THs have been
replaced by ex-BR 08s.
Moving on, I took position on the main road overbridge at Foster
Yeoman's Merehead Quarry, and was able to photograph their
General Motors diesel "Western Yeoman II", just two years old at
the time of my visit. The site became much better known a few
years later when the main-line GMs, the class 59s, arrived.
My main objective on this occasion lay a few miles further to the
south, the Fisons' peat lines on the Somerset levels at Shapwick
Heath. I spent a very happy hour or so here, photographing
operations between the moss and the wagon tippler, and taking a
trip with the train. On our way out, a wagon became derailed -
the picture shows the rerailing method employed (I'm not sure
how a full wagon would be dealt with - perhaps the extra weight
would keep it more firmly on the tracks!).
The site was home, at the time, to twelve locos, 11 Listers /
Lister Blackstones, and one "home made" locomotive (which
looked suspiciously like a Lister engine in a home-made chassis).
Only one loco was in use, no 7 (L42494 of 1956) - and, sadly, this
site ceased to use its railway shortly after my visit.
On leaving the peat lines I headed north, crossing the Avon and
making for Avonmouth. All I could find working there was No 7,
Sentinel 10023 of 1960 at Commonwealth Smelting Ltd,
managing to grab a snap as it worked past with a short train.
Finally I called at the Filton Coal Concentration Depot of
Western Fuels Ltd, home to an unusual Baguley 0-4-0 diesel. (Bg
3410 of 1955). And that was it - two excellent days.
Industrial Railway Society
Alan Keef Ltd