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The Mountsorrel Railway is part of the Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre. This website is no longer updated. For updates see:

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Volunteer help needed urgently!

The project is expanding rapidly at the moment and, with so much going on with both the trackbed and the railbus, our volunteers are spread quite thinly.

As you will have seen from previous updates, Lafarge has agreed to donate and lay ballast for us to the end of the line at Bond Lane. This is obviously wonderful news but has to be done now because we have been told we will soon lose the use of the access track at Bond Lane, which we have been using to bring construction plant onto the trackbed. So the pressure is on to complete as much plant work as possible before we lose our plant access track. This means starting work on Mountsorrel platform, and the pedestrian access path leading to it, much sooner than we had anticipated.

Volunteer help needed urgently!

You can see from the photo that good progress was made last Saturday clearing the side of the cutting so that the stumps can be removed and volunteers can start work on the access path.

Mountsorrel Station

This artist's impression shows what the halt will eventually look like. We are up against time though and we really need your volunteer help to get this work done now whilst we still can. If you can spare a few hours this Saturday, or a Saturday over the next few weeks, then please let us know. We are also looking to run weekday work parties so if you could be available on a weekday please let us know also. All you need to be able to do is put a branch on a bonfire or hammer a nail, so no prior experience is necessary. If you are able bodied we have a task for you to do! We need your support now at this critical time so please get in touch. Thank you.

Friday, 18 June 2010

David Clarke Railway Trust donates £5,000 to track appeal!

The David Clarke Railway Trust, setup in honour of former Great Central Railway (GCR) President and local businessman David Clarke, has very generously boosted the Mountsorrel Railway's track appeal with a donation of £5,000!

David was an important figure around Mountsorrel. His family owned the former box factory on Linkfield Road and David himself setup the successful Gray Paul Ferrari dealership at Loughborough, which later moved to Nottingham. He later went on to become GCR President, spearheading the GCR's project to establish Swithland sidings and reinstate the double track between Loughborough and Rothley, helping to realise the dream of early GCR preservation pioneers of preserving a section of double track main line railway as a working linear museum.

David was well known in Mountsorrel and we are honoured to accept this generous donation from the trust set up in his name.

In addition to this the project has seen a flood of donations pour into our track appeal since the beginning of June, helping to swell the fund by an additional £3,500! Together with existing funds we have now raised over £10,000! This sets us well on our way to raising the £30-40,000 we need to secure the one and a quarter miles of track needed to complete the project.

Donations are also being received for the railbus restoration, allowing restoration work to finally get under way.

Thanks to all of you who have donated to the project so far. If you haven't donated yet please do so as soon as you can. The rising price of metal means we have to act quickly if we are to secure the track we need at a reasonable price.

You can donate to the project in several ways. You could sponsor a sleeper at £15 per sleeper or a length of rail at £180 per length. Alternatively you may wish to donate an amount each month by regular standing order; by clicking the link you will see the project has incentives for those donating large amounts by standing order.

Whatever you can afford will be greatly appreciated, and every penny of every pound donated goes straight towards securing the track we need.

And if you are a UK taxpayer please download and fill in our Gift Aid form and send with your donation. This enables us to claim tax back from the government, boosting your donation still further.

Please send your donation cheque, made payable to "RVP Ltd" with "Mountsorrel Railway" written on the back, to 112 Balmoral Road, Mountsorrel, Loughborough LE12 7EW.

With your help we can bring the railway back to Mountsorrel! Thank you.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Project volunteers start railbus restoration!

Visitors to the Great Central Railway (GCR) in recent years may have noticed the rather forlorn frame of a railway vehicle languishing at the back of Loughborough loco shed. This is a 1958 built AC railbus now owned by the David Clark Railway Trust. The railbuses were built to carry passengers on short branch lines where passenger numbers didn't justify the cost of running a steam service. They were small single carriage vehicles just over half the length of a standard railway carriage yet still carried up to 47 passengers. With their own diesel engine they were extremely versatile and cheap to operate. Sadly they weren't able to save most of the branch lines they were built to serve, and as the Beeching axe closed some of the branch lines the vehicles were soon out of work after only a few years in service.

One of the aims of the Mountsorrel Railway project is not only to utilise the branch line for historical recreations, and to show how an industrial branch line would have interacted with a double track mainline railway, but we also hope for the GCR to run a passenger link along the branch to the nearby Stonehurst Farm attraction at Mountsorrel. The railbus would make an ideal vehicle for running that service, particular at quieter times of the year when passenger numbers may not cover the cost of running a steam service. Being able to run the railbus would allow us to operate trains along the branch on many more weekends than would otherwise be economically possible. The railbus would also offer excellent all-round views of the scenic branch line.

The other benefit of using the railbus is that they were designed to pick up passengers from almost anywhere, almost like a road bus. A full size platform is not required due to the railbus's vacuum operated fold down steps, which can be extended from underneath the vehicle allowing it to operate alongside either a full height normal platform or a simple almost ground level wooden structure. The obvious cost savings of not having to construct a full height platform at Bond Lane are immense.

With all this in mind, project volunteers have started to look at restoring the railbus for use on the branch line and on the GCR in general. The railbus has had some restoration work done on it in recent years, but only a little. A lot of work, both mechanically and structurally, is required to bring her back to operational use.

Running the railbus would allow the project to recreate yet another part of history, this time from the 1950s.

We have already built a strong team of volunteers to work on the vehicle, but we still need more help. If you have mechanical or steel welding skills, that would be great, but don't worry if not: there's still much to do for everyone. If you would like to help out with the railbus restoration please get in touch with Steve Cramp.

Funds for the railbus's restoration are also required. A fund exists within the David Clarke Railway Trust specifically for the railbus. If you would like to donate to support the railbus's restoration, please send your cheque made payable to "DCRT", with "Railbus" written on the back, to 112 Balmoral Road, Mountsorrel, Loughborough LE12 7EW. Thank you.

Mountsorrel Railway June news

Phase two ballast laying preparation underway

Hot on the heels of our recent track laying, we're pleased to announce that phase two trackbed preparation and ballast laying is now underway!

The end of the line in the distance

This work should see ballast laid over the final 600m of trackbed all the way to the end of the branch line at Bond Lane. We're very grateful to Lafarge Aggregates Mountsorrel Quarry community fund for supporting this work, which we hope will be completed in July.

Once complete the full length of the trackbed will be ballasted and awaiting track. Please see our track appeal for details of how to donate to help us secure the track we need to complete the project.

Wood Lane bridge restoration complete

15 months of hard work came to an end last Saturday with the completion of the restoration of the Mountsorrel Railway bridge at the top of Wood Lane! When we started there were some who questioned whether we had taken on a "bridge too far" with the challenge of restoring the bridge, let alone produce a finished result that did justice to such a significant and architecturally important part of our local heritage. We're pleased to say the restoration has been completed to a very high standard indeed. Both the original fabric and appearance of the bridge have been restored to its former glory.

Local volunteer stonemasons applying the finishing touches to the restored bridge

Restoring the bridge involved the complete rebuilding of a section of the road side parapet wall using the original carefully restored stones, and the repointing of the road-facing sides of the structure. The work has only been possible thanks to over 30 of our volunteers who've given their time to work on the bridge restoration over the last 15 months. In particular we must thank our volunteer stonemasons who've overseen the restoration and helped to ensure completion of the work to such a high standard.

The entire restoration has been achieved at a cost of only a few hundred pounds, thanks to Lafarge Aggregates, Mountsorrel Parish Council and members of the public who have sponsored the restoration work. The restoration shows what the community, local business and the Parish Council can achieve when we work together to preserve our heritage for years to come.

Project hosts Scout, Guide and school visits

Last year the project ran a series of visits from local groups and schools, allowing over 300 local children to learn about their history and to help boost the ecosystem along the sides of the trackbed. Local children grew native wild flowers which they then planted alongside the route. A year on we're pleased to report that the planting was a great success. The difference between the planted sections and the sections left to run wild, which have filled with nettles and thistles, is clear to see.

Wild flowers planted last year by local children and young people, helping to boost the ecology of the trackbed

Not only does the greater diversity of flora and fauna help the ecology of the trackbed to return to how it would have been during the original operating life of the railway, but it also helps to boost the ecosystem generally. Additional and varied wild flowers attract more insects, which helps pollinate the crops in nearby fields. The insects also provide food for birds and animals, further enriching the ecosystem.

Wild flowers planted last year by local children and young people, helping to boost the ecology of the trackbed

This year's series of school and group visits will soon be underway, allowing even more of our local children to benefit and learn from the project. Thanks go to our ecology volunteers who work hard to create these educational opportunities for our children.
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