Battlefield Line Railway


Battlefield Line Railway

The Battlefield Line Railway is a heritage railway in Leicestershire, England. It runs from Shackerstone (Grid ref mmukscaled|SK379065|25|SK 379 065) to Shenton (mmukscaled|SK396002|25|SK 396 002), via Market Bosworth, a total of four and a half miles. Shenton is near Bosworth Field, (the location of the final battle of the Wars of the Roses immortalised in Shakespeare's "Richard III"), giving the railway its name.

Overview

The railway runs steam and diesel-hauled trains every weekend from April to October, as well as a summer mid-week service on Wednesdays in July and August; the latter is operated by their "Heartlander" diesel railcar service. They also operate special events: the Christmas Santa Specials (which operate on all weekends throughout December) and the popular annual diesel galas. Family focused events are held throughout the year; "Day out with Thomas the Tank Engine", "Postman Pat Day", and "Ivor the Engine" and Shackerstone Family Festival in September.

History

The railway used to be part of the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway, who operated the line jointly between Moira West Junction and Nuneaton. The first trains ran along this section in 1873. At Shackerstone station, there was once a junction where one section branched off towards Moira and Ashby and the other went towards Coalville Junction. In 1883, the Charnwood Forest Railway was opened, which extended the branch from Coalville Junction to Loughborough's Derby Road station, passing through the villages of Whitwick and Shepshed. In the 1923 Grouping, these lines were assigned to the London Midland and Scottish Railway. In 1931 the last scheduled passenger train went down the Charnwood Forest branch, with the line then only being open to freight and excursions until the 1960s. The Coalville Junction - Shackerstone section was dismantled and closed completely in 1964. The Ashby - Nuneaton line had its last passenger service in 1965, which was an enthusiasts special, before British Rail pulled the rails up in 1970.In its heyday, Shackerstone was a busy station, with steam trains doing the workings between Ashby and Nuneaton, whilst a railcar did the service between Shackerstone and Loughborough Derby Road.

The Shackerstone Railway Society was set up in 1969 at Market Bosworth, but soon moved to Shackerstone in 1970, as they needed a proper home for their first steam engine. When they got to Shackerstone they found one through line still intact, and their first aim was to build some sidings. Later they re-instated the "down" platform and connected the sidings to the line to Market Bosworth.

In 1973, to celebrate the centenary of the line, a small train of open wagons was hauled to Market Bosworth. Following the successful conclusions of the negotiations with British Rail, a start was made on track rearrangements which created run-round loops at both ends of the line and a number of sidings at Shackerstone.

In the 1980s, the Battlefield Line launched a campaign to extend their line to Shenton. This involved buying one and a half miles of rail and in 1992 after a successful campaign, the inaugural service arrived, hauled by the appropriately named 0-6-0 tank engine "Richard III."

Journey

Leaving the platforms at Shackerstone, the first sight to be seen from the train is the old goods yard. This is situated on the right-hand side of the running lines. This first section of the journey is located on a climbing gradient which continues until the train is clear of the station limits. Near the goods yard passengers can see the Station House (now a private residence) which still evokes much railway character. Approaching the signal-box, the train passes a large building. This is the steam locomotive and carriage shed.The signal-box, situated on the left of the train, is passed shortly, and once the driver has received the Single Line Token, the train may proceed into the section. The signal box is he oldest Midland Railway Co. type one box still in operational use. Once past the shed the Steam Locomotive Yard is in view. The Chassis of 0-6-0 RSH No3 "Richard III" is a current project and can be seen on the 1st Road at the back of the shed. Passengers can also (from the train) see the inspection pit and preparation area. Continuing further up the gradient,the train shortly passes the railway's DMU Siding on which are usually stored the 2-car 'Hybrid' Set and the Bubblecar. Behind these stand other items of railway origin which are either in store or awaiting overhaul/restoration. Locomotives to be seen from the train in this siding are currently Class 45 (45 015) and Class 73 (73 105).

Once the end of the "DMU Siding" is reached,the train passes under the first bridge which carries the road to Barton-in-the-Beans over the railway. From here on,the railway passes into open farmland and countryside. Here,the track changes from the left-hand side of the trackbed, to the right-hand side. The railway curves to the left here on a long sweeping curve which takes the train under James Farm Bridge and on towards Hedley's Farm Crossing. It then crosses a separate foot-crossing, at each of which locomotives must give a warning whistle.

After the crossings, the track straightens for a while. On the left can be seen the Italianate style church tower of Carlton and shortly after this the Market Bosworth Golf course can be sighted under construction. Look out for the local private airstrip also on the left, until a sweeping right-hand curve heralds the approach to Market Bosworth, 3 miles from Shackerstone. To the right of the train can be seen new housing developments whilst the left-hand side still boasts countryside scenery. Market Bosworth Station is soon approached and trains pass under the Station Bridge which carries the main road into Market Bosworth over the line. The train drifts through the disused platforms which still reminds us of a time when it was busy with farm traffic and rural commuters.

To the left-hand side of the train here there are usually stored locomotives or wagons which gives the feel of a "scrapyard". To the right can be seen the old buildings and signalbox which used to control part of the operation of the station.

Once the train is clear of Market Bosworth Station, the train accelerates again towards Far Coton road bridge and then passes into a left-hand curve in a cutting. Much wildlife can be seen from a train by the watchful passengers. Out of the cutting, the train continues on a long, straight section of track on top of an embankment. From here, the wonders of the Leicestershire countryside can be witnessed. To the right hand side can be seen Aqueduct Cottage and the actual Ashby Canal aqueduct beyond it. Trains slow as they cross the bridge which carries over the road between Shenton Village and Sutton Cheney. As the line curves to the right slightly, the train approaches Shenton Station, just over convert|4.5|mi|km away from Shackerstone.

The trains slow to enter the platform and the Station Pottery and Car Park can be seen to the right. The Pottery is the only surviving part of the original station. The current station is the reconstructed Humberstone Road Station from Leicester. To the left, the "Flag of the Boar" can be seen flying proudly above the field on which the Battle of Bosworth was fought. The attractive Shenton Station is a handy starting point for walks in the Battlefield Country Park.

At the end of the line is a headshunt underneath an old cattle bridge. The small bridge was previously used to allow safe passage of farm traffic over the route of the old Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Railway.

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Trivia

The line was originally double track but was later singled. Confusingly, part of the line was called the Bluebell Line (The Charnwood Forest Line; Hugglescote to Loughborough Derby Road Station, this line was only accessible via the ANJR).

The royal train now in the National Railway Museum went to Shackerstone on its first outing in December 1902. It conveyed King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria on their way to Gopsall Hall, where Handel is reputed to have composed his oratorio Messiah.

team Locomotives

*LNER 4-6-0 Class B1 No. 1306 "Mayflower" - Operational, and used occasionally on Passenger Services.
*Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns No. 3 0-6-0T "Richard III". Built in 1949. Undergoing overhaul following a long period out of service. This design of locomotive is said to be one of, if not the most powerful industrial locomotive type ever built. Currently resides behind Shackerstone Shed on No1 Road.
*Peckett and Sons No. 7 0-4-0ST. Built in 1949. In Dilapidated condition and awaiting a major restoration. The engine had been a regular performer on the line during the 1970s but the firebox was condemned. Resides out in the elements and out of public view down, in the North End sidings at Shackerstone.
*W.G. Bagnall No. 3 0-6-0ST "Lamport". Built in 1942. Awaiting full overhaul at Shackerstone following an expired boiler certificate. Owned by Leicester Industrial Locomotive Group this engine had served the railway well previously.
*Hudswell Clarke No 750. 0-4-0ST "Waleswood". Built in 1906 and undergoing long term restoration. Her bufferbeams show evidence of rough shunting and encounters with moving wagons acquired whilst working for the National Coal Board (NCB).
*Peckett and Sons No 1859 0-6-0ST "Sir Gomer". Built in June 1932. Painted in green and lined out in black and yellow. The locomotive had worked at Mountain Ash Colliery until the early 1980s and then at the preserved Vale of Glamorgan Railway until October 2001. As of 2008, this engine, and 1306 "Mayflower" are the mainstay of the Battlefield Line's steam locomotive fleet. This engine was designed to pull loads of over 900 tons on level ground and so provides a very powerful six-coupled engine. Her names comes from Sir James Gomer Berry who had been involved with a few Welsh collieries, including Mountain Ash. "Sir Gomer" wears a Green Livery lined out in Black and Yellow. She is currently in service.
*Aveling and Porter Rail Locomotive No.9449 2-2-0WT "The Blue Circle". Formerly worked at Blue Circle Cement. Built in 1926 and operated around Shackerstone Station.
*Cockerill No. 2945 0-4-0VBT "Yvonne" Built in 1920. "Yvonne" is an unusual machine as she combines a verticle boiler with conventional valve gear. Operational, and can be seen operating around Shackerstone.

Heritage Diesel Locomotives

*Class 31 No. 31101. "Brush Veteran". Operational
*Class 31 No. 31130. "Calder Hall Power Station". Operational
*Class 31 No. 31461. Under restoration.
*Class 33 No. 33008. "Eastleigh". Under restoration.
*Class 33 No. 33019 "Griffon". Operational.
*Class 37 No. 37227. Currently waiting for a space in the Steam Locomotive Shed for a bodywork overhaul.
*Class 37 No. 37905 "Vulcan Enterprise". Operational.
*Class 45 No. 45015. Stored out of use.
*Class 47 No. 47640 "University of Strathclyde". Operational.
*Class 73 No. 73105. Stored awaiting an engine replacement and bodywork overhaul.
*Class 73 No. 73114. "Stewarts Lane Traction Maintenance Depot" . Operational.

Diesel shunters

*Class 02 No D2867 "Diane". Operational-Regularly used as Shed Shunter for steam locomotive department.
*Class 03 No 03170. Operational and used regularly.
*Class 03 No 03180. Stored out of use.
*Class 04 No 11215. Out of service. Undergoing engine refit inside the Steam Locomotive Shed in front Of "Waleswood".
*Class 04 No 04110 (D2310). Operational, and painted in BR Blue
*Class 07 No 07005. Stored out of use.
*Class 08 No 08576. Awaiting Restoration.
*Class 08 No 08825. Stored out of use.
*Class 11 No 12083. Under restoration.
*Andrew Barclay No 422 "Hot Wheels". Stored out of use at Market Bosworth Station.
*Barclay "Big Momma". Stored out of use at Market Bosworth Station.
*English Electric No 8431. Stored out of use.
*Hunslet 6684. Stored out of use.
*Motor Rail Simplex No 9921 'Caroline'/'Rusty'. Only used on special events because of its size. Non-Operational due to clutch failure.
*Ruston Hornsby No 2 "Nancy". Operational but does not see much use.
*Ruston "Hercules". Currently undergoing bearing work & a bodywork overhaul.

Diesel Multiple Units

*Class 122 DMBS No 55005. Non-Operation, awaiting Bodywork Repairs and a Repaint.

*Class 116 DMBS No 51131. Operational, used with No 51321 on passenger trains regularly.

*Class 118 DMS No 51321. Operational, used with 51131 on passenger trains, operates regularly.

Gallery

External links

* [http://www.battlefield-line-railway.co.uk Official Web]
* [http://www.shackerstone-diesels.co.uk Railways Diesel Dept Web]
* [http://www.shackerstonefestival.co.uk Shackerstone Family Festival Web]


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