Dorking Greystone Lime Company

Gauge: 3ft 2¼in (970mm)


Collection Objects

The great limestone quarry of Dorking Greystone Lime Company stood to the north of the Southern Railway line at Betchworth, Dorking. It once extended to around 1/3rd of a mile wide, and was 300 feet deep, with other workings in tunnels which stretched much further. Dorking Greystone was once a major employer of local people and the quarries were a significant landmark on the North Downs.

The quarry was set up in 1865 by William Finlay, and incorporated the first Hoffmann kilns for lime-burning erected and fired in England. The quarry was served by a standard gauge railway, and narrow gauge internal railways were added. The system grew to become quite extensive. Three gauges were used – 3ft 2¼in was the principal one used throughout the quarry, but there was also an isolated 2 ft gauge line (linked to the main system by a conveyor belt) and a short section of 1ft 7in gauge using rope haulage. All the main trackwork was well engineered, laid in chairs on sleepers. The 3ft 2¼in line brought materials, both basic and processed, to a standard gauge interchange siding, whence the material would be collected and sent over the rail network where required.

Four narrow gauge locomotives worked the site. Two 3ft 2¼in gauge 0-4-0 tank locos were built in 1880 by Fletcher Jennings and named in 1930 Townsend Hook and William Finlay. Two diesels were supplied by Orenstein and Koppel in 1936 and 1937 one of 3ft 2¼in gauge and one of 2ft. The wagons were mainly of side tipping and end tipping design with inside bearings.

The main narrow gauge lines ceased operation in 1959. The quarries ceased working in 1963. Since then much of the site has been reclaimed and most of the former works obliterated. All four narrow gauge locomotives and two standard gauge locomotives survive in preservation.


Narrow Gauge:
“Townshend Hook”, Fletcher, Jennings & Co No. 172L of 1880; 0-4-0 tank. 3ft 2¼in gauge. Preserved at Amberley Museum
“William Finlay”, Fletcher, Jennings & Co No.173L of 1880; 0-4-0 tank. 3ft 2¼in gauge. Preserved by the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum.
“Monty”, Orenstein and Koppel No7269 of 1936; diesel. 3ft 2¼in gauge. Preserved at Amberley Museum
“The Major”, Orenstein and Koppel No 7741 of 1937; diesel. 2ft gauge. Preserved at Amberley Museum

Standard Gauge:
“Coffeepot”, T H Head, 1871, 0-4-0 vertical boiler.  Preserved at Beamish Museum
Details unknown, 1875, 0-4-0 saddle tank, sold 1878
“Baxter”, Fletcher, Jennings & Co. No. 158 of 1877; 0-4-0 tank. Preserved on the Bluebell Railway

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