Eaton Railway

Gauge: 15ins (380mm)

Collection Objects

In 1894 Arthur Heywood was commissioned to build a 15 inch gauge railway for the Duke of Westminster at his Eaton Hall estate near Chester. The 3½ mile line connected Eaton Hall with Balderton on the GWR Shrewsbury to Chester main line and was opened in 1896. It carried 5000 tons of coal annually from the main line to the house, as well as timber and other materials for the maintenance of the estate. Three steam locomotives were built for it, in 1896, 1904 and 1916.

The Eaton Railway continued to operate until 1947, fulfilling all expectations. The locomotive Katie proved inadequate for the work and was sold out of service, the name being later transferred to Shelagh. After some years the original Katie went to the Fairbourne Railway and was scrapped there in 1925.  However parts of the original still remain, and it has been is rebuilt using the original frames, and parts from other Heywood locomotives.  Katie is currently on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.  Shelagh and Ursula were scrapped in 1942 after being replaced by a Simplex petrol locomotive. In 1947 the remaining equipment was sold to the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in Kent where some of it still exists.

No further railways were built in the Heywood fashion, but in 1904 Henry Greenly and W. J. Bassett-Lowke of Northampton began to promote 15 inch gauge miniature railways for passenger carrying purposes. Since then considerable development has taken place on 15 inch and smaller gauges and still continues. The principal 15 inch gauge lines now operating are the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, Bure Valley Railway and Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.

Katie Built at Duffield Bank 1896: 0-4-0 tank. Sold 1916. Name transferred to Shelagh. Scrapped 1925
Shelagh (Katie) Built at Duffield Bank 1904: 0-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1942.
Ursula Built at Duffield Bank 1916: 0-6-0 tank. Scrapped 1942.

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