#124 – Narrow Gauge in West Lancashire

OK, not my usual style as it’s not black and white, but I made the short journey to the West Lancs Light Railway for it’s Quarry Engine gala. I’ve often cycled to their base at Hesketh Bank as it’s a pleasant ride from Chorley, but they don’t seem to run on Saturdays when I tend to use my bike!

It’s only a short line, but it’s nice and neat with a small workshop, engine sheds and  neat little terminus named Becconsall. The line is about half a mile or so but there are ambitions to extend the line to the River Douglas, which would give a line of over a mile. This is linked in with council plans to turn the adjacent wasteland into a park, so this may take some time to come to fruition given the current problems with funding in local authorities. It’s quite unusual in that the railway is not on the trackbed of a previous railway (although the trackbed of the old West Lancashire line from Preston to Southport runs nearby) but was a former brickworks that did have some internal railways and the railway did use some of their old track and materials. 

But back to the present, the short running line did mean that train services were frequent, which was probably for the best as I probably wouldn’t want to travel too far on a wooden bench! The track is well laid though, and there was negligible rocking around which was good considering it is a 2 foot gauge and the carriages were probably 5- 6 foot wide.

The railway is home to a few European steam engines, but it was the engines from the Welsh Quarries that were the attraction, with the ex-Penrhyn pair Stanhope and Edward Sholto being re-united and the resident ex-Dinorwic engine ‘Irish Mail’, which was of particular interest to me as I’d visited Dinorwic quarry last year. It was interesting to hear that the Dinorwic drivers preferred the engines without cabs, not sure whether that was down to the improved visibility or just preferring to tackle the elements head on!


Utrillas, a German built loco from Orenstein & Koppel. This almost has the look of some sleepy backwater Mediterranean narrow gauge.

Stanhope approaching Becconsall. They’ve done a nice job on the station – the water tower is very neat.

Inevitable close up.  I do like a nice brass tap.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ian Krause says:

    Utrillas is an old coal-mining town in northern Spain. Could this loco perchance have been based there during its working life?


    1. andy says:

      Sounds about right Ian – the West Lancs website doesn’t say much other than ‘Ex Minas de Utrillas, Zaragoza, Spain’.


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