Castle Hill Quarry

Overall view of the micro layout.

The real Castle Hill Quarry, on the eponymous hill overlooking Glossop, did actually have a short (only 100 yards or so) narrow gauge tramway in it, I stumbled across the remains buried in the mud and grass one day when I was playing truant from school forty-something years ago. The quarry ceased operating towards the end of the 19th century but my version of events keeps it open into the early nineteen sixties. The story behind the narrow gauge railway in the model is that the stone quarry was nearing the end of its useful productivity when a rich seam of coal was struck, thus ensuring continued working.

Approximate route of the Castle Hill Quarry Tramway shown on a modern map of the area.

The owners decided to remove the hand worked tramway after the Great War and replace it with ex War Department 18 inch gauge equipment. The line was loco worked for the short run from the quarry, alongside Castle Hill Road, to a small yard on the north east flank of the hill. From here a self acting incline conveyed loaded wagons down to Hadfield where another loco took over to shunt them into the station yard. It is likely that the only reason locos were used is because the owner was something of a railway enthusiast, such a small operation could easily have been worked manually on the sections above and below the incline. The tramway was not a common carrier and was built without any parliamentary powers being sought, because they probably wouldn’t have been granted.

The turnout is a narrow gauge industrial oddity known as a single blade kick switch. Also visible in this close up photo is the “horizontal puppet string” fishing line that provides the motive power.

The tramway had an uneventful history apart from a few runaway wagons which were usually derailed at catch points before they had chance to do much damage. The last remaining workable steam loco failed a boiler test in the late 1940s and was replaced with the diesel seen on the model. The mine escaped nationalisation, in common with a few others in the North Derbyshire area, because of its small size and continued independently until the coal seam became uneconomical in the nineteen sixties. The line was abandoned to rust and rot in the wet Glossop climate when the mine closed. Most of the trackbed is heavily overgrown and, apart from the quarry workings, very little can be seen today.

 The diesel loco is bashed from an old Tri-ang dock shunter, a scratch built battery electric is also available. The two loco bodies are interchangeable and share the same chassis which is permanently attached to the fishing line. In time I may add more bodies to include a compressed air loco and a vertical boiler steam engine.

So much for the history lesson, now turn to the model. The microlayout depicts the quarry end of the line, there is no run round loop and the locomotive is always at the downhill end of the train. It works empties into the quarry one or two at a time before making the short trip to the head of the incline with the loaded wagons.

For getting materials between the working quarry area and the railhead there is a home made wheelbarrow which is painted to match an old Dinky trolley.

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