ASHORNE HALL RAILWAY, WARWICKSHIRE

Steam locomotive Ashorne at May 2005 sale viewing

The steam engine Ashorne on the day of the sale viewing

History

Ashorne Hall was built in the 1890's 4 miles South of Warwick. The estate was orginally very large but had lately reduced to the house and 6 acres.

The steam railway at Ashorne Hall in Warwickshire was short lived. It was built by Graham Whitehead over a period of six months in 1994 to complement the attractions at Ashorne Hall. It closed in 2003 with his death and sadly never reopened. A sale of the equipment took place in May 2005 and the track was lifted over a period of only a week in June 2005.

The railway was intended as a complementary attraction to the collection or organs and concert room at the Hall. This gave it the title of the Nickelodeon Line.  the railway was well equipped with high quality rolling stock and was very well laid out so that its half a mile of track of 12.25 inch gauge track was set out in only 6 acres of grounds. A trip traversed almost all the track twice so that a one mile journey was provided. A number a special event days saw visiting engines such as Sherpa from the Fairbourne and Barmouth Railway and Exmoor from it's private railway.

The railway started from a terminus Orange Blossom Halt, crossed an 80 foot  long bridge before climbing up a one in 70 gradient past the middle New Lodge station through a 40 foot tunnel and then round a reverse loop before retracing the route and calling at the middle station . There was hardly any straight track on the route. A journey took 10 minutes.

Equipment & Trains

Steam engine Ashorne leaves the tunnel

Ashorne leaves the tunnel

final train on the Ashorne Railway May 2005

The final train at Ashorne Hall 14 May 2005

Toast rack coach at Ashorne Hall

A toast rack coach outside the storage shed

The railway started with a single 2-4-2 tank engine built by the Exmoor Steam Railway  of Bratton Fleming in North Devon and which carried the name Ashorne.  This locomotive did most of the work despite problems with poor quality local water.

They also provided 3 carriage chassis on which local craftsman Paul Stamp built three superb bodies. These are arguably the best carriages ever built for this size of railway. Later a further two toast rack style coaches were added.

.Carriage on the Ashorne Hall Railway

One of the superb 10 seater coaches

A Petrol locomotive was built at Ashorne by combining a 2-4-2 chassis from Exmoor with a Coventry climax petrol engine. The result was an unusual locomotive with real character and it carried the name Bella and an unusual brown livery.

Bella and a toastrack Carrige at Ashorne Hall

Bella and toast rack coach outside the shed at Ashorne Hall

Visiting steam engine Sherpa from Fairbourne railway

Visiting engine sherpa from Fairbourne railway passes the waterfall

Ashorne takes a train up the grade past the drive entrance

Ashorne taking a train up the grade past vintage  tractors

 

The railway boasted two superb stations complete with waiting rooms and coal fires. A tunnel provided interest half way along the journey. The middle station also had a footbridge and water tower and was only accessed by the train on its return journey. A three road engine and carriage shed provided covered storage for all the rolling stock although it was apparently often not used with the stock left outside awaiting the next set of visitors.

Ashorne departs the middle station

Ashorne leaves the middle station

visiting engine Sherpa on an up train

Sherpa on an up train passes the middle station

The track was 13.5 Ib to the yard steel rail imported from Spain screwed to 4.5X3 tanalised sleepers

DISPERSAL

When it became clear that the new owners of the Hall would not want a steam railway in the garden the equipment was put up for tender sale. The disposition was the split the railway in three directions. About half the track and two wagons went to start a new railway near Rugby. The petrol locomotive Bella and all the carriages went to a private 10.25 inch gauge railway in the Midlands.

The Steam Locomotive Ashorne  and the remaining track went to the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway near Leek in Staffordshire.  The locomotive was renumbered as No.9 and renamed Pendragon and re-gauged in winter 2005-6 at the Exmoor Steam Railway and has been in regular use since March 2006 at the Rudyard Lake Railway. Pendragon now has its own web page detailing its story. You can learn to drive a steam train at Rudyard Lake Steam Railway

The track was used to relay part of the main line at Rudyard in 2007 and the points were re-gauged and re laid at Rudyard in February 2008. News of the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway in Staffordshire is here.   

The abandoned stations and tunnel remained in 2005 as a silent witness that a railway one ran on this site.  To see Chris Burgess's excellent site on the lifting and final pictures click Closure of Ashorne Hall

As for a brief period all the rolling stock was at  the Exmoor Steam Railway in Devon in Autumn 2005 and a special 'Ashorne Hall' day was organised by the new owners and the Exmoor Steam Railway in Devon. Click this link for more details.        

 Double Headed train at Exmoor Steam railway with the Ashorne stock

Double headed at Exmoor are Ashorne & Denzil with all the available rolling stock

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE RUDYARD LAKE STEAM RAILWAY (click on the links below)

  

Contact us by telephone / fax on 01995 672280

or Email:  info@rlsr.org

or write to us at Rudyard Station, Rudyard,

NR. Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 8PF