Monday, 5 March 2012

5.Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway

The Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway was  constructed by Mr CW Bartholomew who was the occupant of Blakesley Hall.  It was to 15 inch gauge, and originally operated an American outline 4-4-0 Steam locomotive around the grounds of the Hall.  Later it was famous for having a diesel locomotive, albeit hidden under a steam outline body, as early as 1909!  This makes it possibly the first diesel locomotive in the world even if it was powered by a car engine.  WJ Bassett-Lowke, the famous model engineer was based in nearby Northampton is known to have been involved in this pleasure line.  It was opened on high days and holidays to the public, including the Annual Flower and Produce Show.



The Bartholomews owned collieries in Wombwell in South Yorkshire and coal was delivered, at no cost, to the household via the siding at Blakesley station.  As a an engineer, Bartholomew was keen make use of his line to carry the coal 1/4 mile to the house.  He managed to gain access to the SMJ trackbed under the Railway bridge (Bridge 25) and built a small station next to the mainline one.  He also arranged for a siding to meet the very end of the mainline railway's siding for coal deliveries.

My model of the platform and shelter of the Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway.
Bartholomew bought six V tipper wagons and one flatbed bogie truck to add to the three bogie passenger carriages already in existence.  15 inch gauge tippler wagons were not common and it is believed that he bought these through mining contacts on the continent. They allowed coal to be shoveled from his own collieries' wagons to the Halls' boiler room almost directly.


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