7mm PW in the industrial world (in the Forest of Dean)

Discussion in 'Permanent Way' started by Dog Star, 9 June 2021.

  1. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Regulars to my writings may recall that Peter (@Spike and I are building a colliery extension to our layout, the layout is based upon the area around Norchard (Severn & Wye Railway) and is to include some screens plus empties and fulls roads. There has to be a boundary between railway property and the land which is leased from the Crown... we have chosen to place that boundary between fulls / empties roads and the turnouts which connect those sidings to the station goods yard. The placement of the railway boundary means that the turnouts at the railway end of the fulls / empties roads are of railway construction whilst the turnouts beyond the colliery screens are colliery property and hence of unknown origin.

    Given that the time period for the PW and infrastructure is the Edwardian era (of the 20th century) then I think that I am safe with the railway turnouts being based upon GWR S&C practice... move to the other end of the exchange sidings and my confidence is at an all time low. What was the appearance of industrial PW in the 1900s (other than disreputable)? How was a switch / crossing / turnout constructed?

    Plenty of advice welcome and photos are desirable.

    thank you, Graham
  2. daifly

    daifly Western Thunderer

    Sounds like a job for Railway Bylines! I have a full set if you can identify a particular issue(s) that might help.
    Dog Star likes this.
  3. Mudhen

    Mudhen Western Thunderer


    I Googled 'photos of colliery railways in the early 1900s', it came up with a large number of images. Try and see if it helps. Apologies if you've already done this.

    Dog Star likes this.
  4. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    cbrailways, AJC and Dog Star like this.
  5. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    A very interesting image as one can believe that the turnout is of railway origin... on first look, 9' loose heel straight cut switches.

    I shall follow through the suggestions given above, thank you.

    regards, Graham
  6. Graham, MRJ 283 has an article by Iain Rice titled 'thoughts on modelling bad track' which you might find helpful.
  7. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    I think that’s unlikely because the Harton line was very intensively worked and engineered for the tonnages. It’s a proper railway, kept in pretty good order. The kit would have been brought from the likes of Wards or Hudson of Leeds (themselves wholesalers as well as suppliers) so it’s all fairly standard stuff, especially since that network saw significant investment from the NCB. so the geometry and components would reflect RCH standards and spec. In any event, there was so much private mileage that it would have been impossible to supply industry from the cast offs of mainline companies anyway. Exactly as was the case with locos and wagons.

    So how old is your colliery? How well financed? Lighter section rail would be probable and spiked flat bottom or chaired, worn, second hand bullhead. The GCR London Extension images are full of the sort of detail you’re after, I’d think.

    Dog Star and Yorkshire Dave like this.
  8. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    @AJC After a bit of further reading I would concur the Forest of Dean collieries would have more than likely used a lighter rail section at this time as they did not produce the vast tonnage of coal compared to the Kent, Midlands, Northern and Scottish coalfields which would have required a heavier permanent way. In addition the FoD colliery owners would be spending a fair amount of money trying to keep the deep pits dry as this coalfield was/is notoriously wet.
    AJC likes this.
  9. cbrailways

    cbrailways Western Thunderer

    Photo 14 has a nice view of a Barry Slip in the bottom RH corner.
  10. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Barry Slip, wasn't he a backing singer for Cliff Richard?
  11. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    There is still a Barry slip in working order at Ropley on the Watercress line.
  12. cbrailways

    cbrailways Western Thunderer

  13. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    The answer to your questions does depend upon which FoD colliery is being used for inspiration given that our layout is based around the location of Norchard before WW1. At this time and using material from Ian Pope (@Ian Pope) we are working with photos of Princess Royal for the general placement of sidings and buildings although I expect that Northern United may be the basis of our screens.

    So no "accurate" representation of a prototype...

    Talking with Ian this morning he reminded me that the Severn & Wye Railway company provided PW materials for some collieries under the appropriate Private Siding Agreement - the PSA for Princess Royal is one of the documents which records such assistance from the S&W Rly. Just how far I can push that record towards GW S&C practice does depend upon what I can find in the way of photos from circa 1900.

    regards, Graham
  14. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Was the Severn & Wye Railway originally a broad gauge line?

    I've come across this about the Trafalgar Colliery which was connected to the Severn & Wye and the top photo appears to show possibly ex-Brunel broad gauge rails. This is a larger photo of the one shown in the link.

    Screenshot 2021-06-10 at 16-30-31 forest of dean colliery - Google Search.png
    Dog Star likes this.
  15. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Severn & Wye was originally a tramroad... then converted to a broad gauge railway.... and then to a "narrow" gauge railway (where "narrow" is the GWR description of standard gauge).
  16. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    A challenge could be to build the colliery railway as a standard (1435mm) gauge baulk road using ex-broad gauge bridge rails with the exchange roads/sidings being standard Midland/GW practice. :)
    Dog Star likes this.
  17. PhilH

    PhilH Western Thunderer

    I hesitate to contribute to this topic because my knowledge of colliery permanent way comes from visits to collieries in the 1960s and 1970s, with some 50 years or more of use and neglect from the period your layout represents. Also I'm not familiar with the Forest of Dean Coalfield or the GWR's arrangements for dealing with private sidings, so just bear that in mind in what follows. As an aside, I understand that the Forest of Dean Coalfield was excluded from nationalisation because of its tradition of free mining and any mines which came under NCB ownership were acquired after nationalisation.

    I was rather intrigued by the decision to site the railway boundary to include the turnouts at the main line end of the full and empty roads. The actual connection to the main line would no doubt be carried out by the GWR and probably include a catch point if deemed necessary. That would subsequently be maintained by the GWR. Beyond the connection the remainder of the layout would be the responsibility of the colliery owner. Private Siding Arrangements were usually accompanied by a plan which detailed exactly who was responsible for what as in the following example

    Glascoed Colliery Siding.jpg

    In this case the delineation between railway and colliery responsibility is conveniently at the railway boundary, but note that as part of the agreement the colliery company agreed to maintain part of their trackage to the railway company's satisfaction to enable railway company's locomotives to work a certain distance into the sidings and no doubt therefore the turnouts involved would be constructed to the railway company's standards.

    However the junction between the railway company's and the siding owner's responsibility didn't always coincide with the land boundary.

    Wirral Colliery Siding.jpg

    In this example at the end of the branch from Parkgate Station on the Wirral, the colliery company's responsibility extends well into the railway company's land. In other examples the railway company took responsibility for maintaining track beyond their boundary. So the land boundary didn't necessarily dictate a change of responsibility or track construction.

    This leads me to the question - how will the sidings be worked ? Is it intended for GWR locos to work trains into the sidings or for the colliery company's own locomotive to work trains into the adjacent goods yard. If its the former then the entry points to the sidings will obviously have to be to GWR standards, and also any track beyond which might be used by GWR locos in the process of dropping off or picking up wagons. The actual colliery track layout would be constructed by a contractor, maybe using some materials supplied by the GWR , so I would think its unlikely that they would change to a different track construction part way along the sidings. More likely they would use the same or similar materials, the only difference being that the turnouts at the far end of the sidings which would not be traversed by GWR locos could be of a sharper radius.

    If the method of working is the latter and GWR locos will not need to enter the sidings the entire layout from the connection could be laid in lighter materials, maybe with flat bottom rail.

    As for the question how were industrial turnouts constructed, basically the same as any other on the main line, the differences being sharper radii, maybe sometimes a slightly wider sleeper spacing and the use of ash ballast instead of stone. Colliery sidings were usually laid to a gradient under the screens to permit wagon loading without the use of locomotives. Ideally the entire layout would be laid at a gradient to minimise the use of locomotives, so that wagons could be run by gravity from the empties sidings, weighed on the empties weighbridge, loaded at the screens, weighed on the fulls weighbridge, and into the full sidings.

    From visits to NCB sites in the 1960s-1970s, track was invariably chaired bullhead, i.e. the same as BR. I can only recall two locations where flat bottom rail was used, and which I recorded in photos - The Graig Merthyr system at Pontardulais in South Wales and the South Hetton to Seaham inclines where part had been relaid in FB. As for industrial PW being "disreputable", it certainly wasn't built that way although no doubt not quite up to main line standards. If it became "disreputable" it would be through heavy use and poor maintenance. Repairs were probably mainly carried out after a derailment rather than to prevent derailments.


    Subsidence at rail ends was always a problem, with frequent dropped joints which should have been repacked, but this example is rather extreme at Haig Colliery in Cumbria. Quite worrying is that just behind the wagons is the edge of a cliff.


    and NCB track maintenance wasn't always up to main line standards !

    Mardy 005B.jpg

    This very rough trackwork at Mardy Colliery in South Wales wasn't used by trains as it only led to the loco shed, but it was regularly traversed by the Peckett OQ Class 0-6-0ST known as the "Mardy Monster", one of the heaviest industrial locos in the UK, which probably b*ggered it up !


    In contrast a bit better trackwork at Bickershaw Colliery.​

    I have more detail photos of NCB bullhead and flat bottom track which I can post if there's any interest.
    Last edited: 11 June 2021
    Yorkshire Dave, Jordan, alant and 8 others like this.
  18. Rob R

    Rob R Western Thunderer

    "if there is any interest"

    Is the sky blue and the sea wet?
    There is interest aplenty Phil.

    Please, please post away, this is the stuff we thrive on.

    Jordan, Rob Pulham, Osgood and 2 others like this.
  19. King Crab

    King Crab Active Member

    I have a couple of photos, of Welsh NCB lines from 1969 that might fit in here.
    The first shows the track is completely levelled at this point with spilled coal.
    The second shows a wagon derailment.
    Or maybe an 00 Wagon and P4 track.....



  20. Jordan

    Jordan Mid-Western Thunderer

    I don't know about points, but one feature of some track in the F-o-D was the use of concrete 'pots' instead of timber sleepers in places, that lasted well into BR days.
    I'm sure that with friends like Ian Pope, Team Dog Star & Spike will be well aware of this already. ;) :thumbs:
    Dog Star likes this.