The Telford Steam Railway (TSR) in Shropshire is based at Horsehay which was once served by passenger trains operating between Wellington and Craven Arms (part of the Great Western Railway) a distance of around 28 miles.
History of the Telford Steam Railway
The line closed to passengers in July 1962 and to freight a few years afterwards between Ketley Junction and Horsehay. South of Horsehay, the line remained in situ as far as Lightmoor until 1983. To help place the line within the existing and former network of railway lines locally, please see the following diagram:
The TSR has reinstated the line for around a mile up to Lawley Village Street platform. This is located just South of the site of the original station which is now occupied by business units.
Passenger services now start from Spring Village station platform and head North. En route they pass through Heath Hill Tunnel and continue to Lawley Village platform.
Trains reverse here but on the return diverge to terminate at the original Horsehay and Dawley Holt station. Services then repeat the journey back to Spring Village station.
There are plans to extend the railway further southwards towards Coalbrookdale and even onto the site of the Ironbridge Power station at Buildwas. If successful this could become an excellent gateway to the Ironbridge Gorge Area. Until recently, coal trains supplied the power station. This was the reason the line from Shifnal was retained which has now been mothballed.
Industrial Heritage at Horsehay
It was my first visit to this railway. On arrival, our group of working volunteers from the Somerset and Dorset heritage railway at Midsomer Norton were met by Alan, one of the TSR volunteers. This was not an operating day but we were treated to the site of Peckett loco ‘Rocket’ being used for driver experience.
The site was previously occupied by the Horsehay Company Limited who produced steel bridges for all over the world. Huge workshops covered a significant area some of which is now occupied by the Telford Steam Railway. Most buildings were demolished during the 1980’s but the former work works canteen survived to become the village hall.
Our visit started in the yard alongside the former goods transshipment shed that was built in the mid-Victorian Era. This originally allowed the transfer of goods from the Wellington and Seven Junction Railway to the Coalbrookdale Companies narrow gauge plate way system.
Mark 3 Carriage
Within the yard was a Mark 3 sleeper coach painted in the livery of the Danish State Railways. This vehicle number 10676 built in 1981 was leased to the Danish State Railways in 1987 and returned to the UK some 10 years later. For around 5 years it was stored at Moreton-on-Marsh but early in 2002 it was purchased by the TSR for use as overnight accommodation. It is now supported on commonwealth bogies having lost its BT10 bogies presumably to help provide spares for the Mark 3 coach fleets operated in HSTs and loco hauled formations.
Steam Locomotives at the TSR
In another corner of the yard we saw Barclay fireless locomotive works number 1944 built in 1927 at the Caledonia Works in Kilmarnock. Until recently, building rubble partially obscured this locomotive but some very keen volunteers recently removed the rubble. It was originally supplied to Colemans Mustard.
On entering the former transshipment shed we saw the Peckett 1967 built in 1939 named Myrrdin, or Merlin in English. This locomotive spent time at the Bowes Railway in the North East and at Gwili Railway in South Wales. It was originally supplied to Stapleton Road Gas works near Bristol.
Wellington Queen Street Goods enamel sign now adorning wall inside transshipment building at Horsehay
On the wall was an enamel sign from the former Great Western goods shed at Wellington Queen Street that was demolished in the 1980’s.
Across the road at the Spring Village station platform was North British shunter works number 27414 in BR black livery. This has been at the Telford Steam Railway since the early 1980’s and the fitment of train brakes means it can be used on passenger services. The North British Locomotive Company had an exemplary reputation for steam locomotives but this was not mirrored in its production of diesel traction. However, 27414 built in 1954 served for many years at GKN Sankey in Hadley near Telford so it would appear to have bucked the trend for unreliability of North British locomotives.
Next to it Class 08 08757 built as D3925 at Horwich Works in 1961 is relatively new to the preservation scene having only been put up for sale by DB Cargo in the Autumn of 2016. A successful bid over the scrap man has resulted in it being moved to the TSR. This locomotive worked right across mainland Britain from its original allocation to the Scottish Region of BR down to the former Western Region territory. This included a period at the Merehead Stone Terminal for a 4 year hire from 2004. It is fitted with additional lights which in this picture can be seen on either side of the radiator. This is associated with its ability to be operated remotely. 08757 has had this facility fully recommissioned since its arrival at the TSR.
Class 108 Power Cars
Towards the end of the platform were Class 108 power cars M51950 and M52062 painted in GWR style chocolate and cream livery. This unit is operated both under its own power and on occasion is hauled by steam locomotives. DMU’s were frequently referred to by railway enthusiasts as ‘Bug Units’ because they were everywhere! Not so today clearly! However, the remaining few are providing nostalgic trips on our Heritage Railways for those that remember their use on British Railways.
We realised we were standing on a bank. On the opposite side to where the stock was stabled was a very overgrown track bed. This was part of the extensive rail system that used to be on this site. Hopefully, this area can have a single road shed built over it to assist with maintaining rolling stock.
Class 37 Locomotive
On our return to the road crossing, I photographed Class 37 number 37263 built in January 1965 as D6963 and entering service at Sheffield Darnal depot. This locomotive arrived at the Telford Steam Railway from Tyseley loco works in the Spring of 2017. The English Electric type 3 locomotives have proved to be one of the most successful and long-lasting types ever used on the national network. To some degree its ironic that one member of this highly successful class has been rebuilt into a Baby Deltic tarred with the reputation of being the least successful English Electric locomotive type.
Across the yard was Class 104 power twins M50479 and M50531. I remember undertaking many journeys on these Birmingham Rail & Carriage Works diesel multiple units particularly between Buxton and Manchester in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. These units are over 60 years old. Stabled alongside was 1906 built Great Western Railway Autocoach number W38W. This vehicle had been restored some years ago but now requires a further extensive overhaul. It spent some time in the early 1970’s at the preservation site at Ashchurch.
We thanked Alan for his time and informative tour. I wish the TSR all the very best in their expansion plans. I hope to return to the Telford Steam Railway for a ride next time.