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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 This website is no longer updated.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:

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Photos and Video From November 23rd Historic Train

The historic first steam passenger train to run on the Mountsorrel Railway was a triumphant success!

The train ran to Nunckley Hill as there wasn't sufficient time to put all the pieces of the puzzle into place to allow the train to run through the Swithland Lane bridge to Bond Lane. Never the less crowds of local people turned out to see the train arrive and it really was a thrilling day for everyone!

A huge thanks must go to the volunteers who have worked for the last 6 years to restore the railway, it has been a hectic few weeks as we have pushed to get the line ready. We are very thankful to the GCR who have pulled out all the stops to get everything in place at their end as well.

There is still much to do to complete the line to open to general passengers so it is not to late to get involved. Get in touch with project leader Steve Cramp to volunteer.

Friday test train pictures.
Photo Steve Cramp


Photo John Mace
Photo John Mace

Photo Graham Wignall
Photo John Mace

Clive Hanley's website has some wonderful photos from the day. If you took photos or film please  let us know.

Youtube video and photos from Saturday.

Photo Graham Wignall

Project leader Steve Cramp is presented with a "golden spike" by Railway Vehicle Preservations in recognition of his work to restore the Mountsorrel Railway. 

Photo Graham Wignall. Note the smoke above the coach from a GCR steam train running on the main line over half a mile away. Is there anywhere else in preservation where standard gauge steam trains can be seen running on different railways over such a distance?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Historic First Passenger Train This Saturday!!

History will be made this coming Saturday November 23rd, when the first steam hauled passenger train will run along the restored Mountsorrel Railway.

The first train is a private charter for the volunteers who have worked to restore the railway and is not open to the general public. It will be a few months yet before the line can open to general passengers.

The train will consist of five carriages from the GCR's Pullman set with LMS 'jinty' no. 47406 having the honour of hauling the historic first train.

Please come along to see
history in the making. The new Nunckley Trail foot path that runs alongside the line will be open, providing excellent photo opportunities of the train. Access to the Nunckley Trail can be found next to the bridge on Swithland Lane.

Access will be close to the green tree symbol.

Please note that GCR line side passes are not valid for the Mountsorrel Railway. No line side photography will be permitted because of the safety rules that allow the train to run. Volunteer marshals will be on hand at Nunckley Hill to show you the best locations to see the train, please follow their safety instructions.

The train is due to arrive at Nunckley Hill around 1:20pm.

Monday, 28 October 2013

BBC Radio 4 Open Country Features Mountsorrel Railway

Back in September BBC Radio 4's Open Country presenter Helen Mark and producer Perminder Khatkar came to the Mountsorrel Railway to make a programme about the work the community has been undertaking over the past 6 years.

Open Country Presenter Helen Mark (left) and Producer Perminder Khatkar (right) interview Project Leader Steve Cramp 
They spent the day with our volunteer team getting stuck in and hands on with railway restoration as well as talking to some of the volunteers to learn more about what has driven them to become involved with preserving and restoring an important part of our local heritage.

The railway restoration is featured in the programme as well as our ecology work and Wildlife Warriors.

The half hour program will be be broadcast this coming Thursday (Halloween) October 31st on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm. It will be repeated on Saturday morning at 6:07am and available on IPlayer after broadcast.

For more information about the programme please see the BBC website Open Country page

Mountsorrel Railway Volunteer Wins Award

Mountsorrel Railway Wildlife Warriors Leader Caroline Bowler has won a community award for her work with our Wildlife Warriors project.

Since we started our Wildlife Warriors project two years ago, over 400 children from the local area and beyond have visited the Mountsorrel Railway to learn about the ecology around us. Wildlife Warriors sessions are free to attend and give the children hands on opportunities to help encourage the wildlife around the railway through fun ecology activities and games.

Sessions have included building bird boxes, hedgehog hibernation houses, insect habitats, butterfly feeders and dry stone walling to name but a few.

A great deal of work goes in both at the events themselves and behind the scenes beforehand planning, organising and sourcing materials.

The Mountsorrel Ripples Award was set up by two Mountsorrel residents Ian Shonk and Anne Gregory to honour local people who have given their time to benefiting our community. We are really pleased that Caroline has been honoured for her work in leading our Wildlife Warriors project by winning a Mountsorrel Ripples Award. Congratulations Caroline!  

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Design completed for Nunckley Trail entrance board

Our newly created Nunckley Trail will have 14 A2 sized professionally made information boards sited at the various points of ecological and historical interest along the trail. Each board will contain information in Braille as well as written format. The board manufacture costs have been kindly sponsored by a grant from Loughborough University.

In addition to the info boards there will be an A1 sized entrance board that shows visitors the trail route, points of interest and where the information boards will be sited.

The entrance board has been designed by our volunteers and we are very pleased with the end result and in particular the little thumb nail images for the interest points. We also have "Robbie the Robin" who will appear on each board and help to guide our younger visitors along the trail.

We hope you like the design and have up loaded it here so you can get an idea of how the Nunckley Trail works alongside the railway.

A massive thanks goes to John Cramp for designing the entrance board and to Sue Cramp for designing Robbie the Robin!

The Nunckley Trail will be open free of charge to the public on the days that the Mountsorrel Railway is operating.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Railway Restoration Progress Update

The track volunteer team have been hard at work over the past few months bringing the railway up to an operating standard where it is able to take passenger trains.

A major part of this work involved the installation of check rails to the two tight curves either side of the bridge at Swithland Lane. Check rails are a third rail that fits on the inside of the curve and helps to relieve forces that would otherwise act on the outside rail causing it to wear. In all some 350 special double chairs had to be sourced to hold the extra rail. As we are using historically correct bullhead rail opposed to modern flat bottom rail, plus the chairs had to hold the rails with a 2 inch spacing instead of the more common 1 3/4 inch spacing, it was extremely difficult to find the chairs of the correct type we needed.

Project funds didn't stretch to commissioning new chairs to be cast especially. This would have cost many tens of thousands of pounds. Instead we set about trying to buy second hand chairs from other heritage railways. Volunteers quite literally travelled to various locations over the full length of the UK to collect what at times were only half a dozen chairs. Gradually we nibbled away out our outstanding total, fitting chairs to the track as we went.

Eventually both curves had all their double chairs fitted and we were ready to fit the rails. This wasn't as straight forward as fitting normal track. The check rails are on a curve so we had to bend the rails by hand as we lifted them into the chairs.


At the end of each check rail section the rails bend inwards to act as a guide to lead the trains wheels into the gap between the check rail and the running rail. We set about bending the rails by hand using a device called a "Jim Crow". This clamps across the rail to bend and a threaded bar is gradually wound against the opposite side of the rail forcing a bend point to occur. It took six strong adults on a long bar to wind the machine and force the rail. There was certainly a lot of sweat that went into that one!



The final task was grinding any lips on the inside edge of the check rail to ensure that the train wheels met no obstructions as they pressed against the check rail.

With the check rails complete our next task was to lay the remaining top ballast all the way to the end of the line. We are grateful to Lafarge Tarmac Mountsorrel Quarry for again supplying the 300 tonnes of ballast needed for the last stretch of the line. We would also like to say a big thank you to the GCR and in particular Nick Tinsley and his p-way team for running the ballast train to drop the remaining ballast.

Whilst the track work has been progressing over the past couple of years the cutting sides have been becoming very overgrown again with brambles even growing across the track in places! Both the track gang and the ecology group are working together to strim and cut back the line side vegetation. We started at Bond Lane and are working our way towards Swithland junction. So far we have reached the bridge at Swithland Lane so still have a mile to go.

It is hoped to build Mountsorrel Halt on the left of this view at Bond Lane. Track will be laid here after the platform is built.

The next task for the track is a visit from a machine called a tamper. The tamper proceeds along the track fine tuning the alignment and packing the ballast underneath the sleepers to ensure the track is fully supported. The tamper visit has been scheduled for November. This will leave the track itself at a standard where passenger trains can run, but we still have more to do before the rest of the line is up to the same standard. Signage needs to be sourced and fitted, which include things like speed limit signs and whistle boards, at the end of the line we have a buffer stop and sand drag to build, plus we still have a mile of railway formation sides that need their vegetation trimming back.

We have volunteer sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week and we need your help to finish the line so the trains can start running as soon as possible. It's not too late to get involved, if you are interested in volunteering with the project please contact project leader Steve Cramp by email.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Wild Flower Meadow Planted

Being closely involved with the project it is sometimes easy to forget just how important and valued the project has become within the local community. That was clearly apparent last Saturday afternoon when so many local people turned out in pouring rain to help us plant up the wild flower meadow and hundreds of bulbs along the sides of the Nunckley Trail.

Our fund raising cake stalls looked like a judging table for the Great British Bake Off! The cakes baked for the event were of an outstanding quality both in looks and taste, we didn't realise we had so much baking talent within the team!

Despite the rain over 50 people turned out to plant up the meadow and to plant bulbs along the sides of the Nunckley Trail.

In all the following were planted:

500 Wood Anemone
500 Snow Drops
400 Wild Daffodil
150 Primroses
And many hundreds of pounds worth of wild flower seeds in the meadow.

A big thanks goes to Leicestershire County Council's "Plugs for Bugs" and "Stepping Stones" schemes for providing the bulbs and seeds.

Come 3:30 when the session finished we still had a site full of visitors that were in no rush to leave. It has to say something if both adults and kids are enjoying themselves so much, even though it was pouring of rain, that they still wanted to do more and carry on!

The cake stall raised a remarkable £85 towards the match funding for the Willow items we want to create alongside the trail. This means we now have the match funding we need and will be ordering the Willow dome, arch and living chairs to be planted over the winter.

BBC news are carrying a story about the importance of our children and young people having involvement with the wildlife around them.  It's good to know that our Wildlife Warriors events are playing a valued role in achieving that. If you haven't been along to a Wildlife Warriors event yet then make sure you don't miss the next one!

The Mountsorrel Railway Project gives a big thanks to Chris Thompson for organising and leading the planting. Chris's experience in this area was invaluable. Thanks as well to our Ecology Group volunteers for helping to execute the event so effectively, our baking volunteers for making the cakes and
to Caroline Bowler for organising and planning the event.        

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wildlife Warriors Wildflower Meadow Planting

Over the summer our intrepid Ecology Group volunteers have been hard at work creating an area at the side of the new Nunckley Trail footpath, which with your help we will be turning into a wildflower meadow!
We have been working closely with Leicestershire County Council as part of their “Plugs For Bugs” and “Stepping Stones” schemes to help develop our meadow initiative. Wildflower meadows play an important role in the eco systems around us. They attract many different types of insects which in turn helps to pollinate crops in nearby fields. The meadow provides a source of food to help boost our wild bee and honey bee populations which have suffered in recent years.

As part of the scheme the council are providing funding for a wide range of bulbs, plug plants and various types of wild flower seeds. They will also be providing a long Willow arch, Willow dome and some rather wonderful “living chairs”! We are very grateful to the County council for their support and guidance with developing our meadow vision. After all the hard work preparing the meadow area it is now time to start the planting!

The next of our very popular Wildlife Warriors sessions will be on Saturday October 12th at 2pm until 3:30. The focus of event will be to plant up the meadow area and also other areas alongside the Nunckley Trail.

Our Wildlife Warriors sessions are FREE to attend and are normally open to children aged 3-11 and their parents. However, following the success of our dry stone walling session back in June, on this occasion we are opening up the event to the entire community, both young and old can come to take part and help to create an ecological boost to the environment around us!

They’ll be free light refreshment thanks to our event sponsors the Mercury Newsagents on Leicester Road, Mountsorrel.

Although the event is free we are raising funds towards the match funding we need to release the rest of the County Council’s grant to buy the willow arch, dome and chairs, so donations on the day will be gratefully received and they’ll also be a homemade cake stall with all proceeds going towards the match funding.

Please download our event flyer and send it to anyone you think who might be interested in coming! Email for further details.


Monday, 9 September 2013

Mountsorrel Railway Fund Raising Film Show Evening

Friday September 13th, 7pm at Greenacres, Leicester North Station

TV journalist and film maker Tom Ingall has been working on a film about the Mountsorrel Railway restoration and the history of the line.

The film is finally complete and Tom has very kindly offered to put on a film show evening especially for supporters of the Mountsorrel Railway Project. Through the evening Tom will present a selection of his GCR films and the evening will round off with the world premier of his new film Mountsorrel - A Railway Restored!

The cost for the evening's entertainment is £5 adults and £2.50 for those aged under 16. All proceeds will go towards the Mountsorrel Railway restoration fund. There will also be the opportunity if you wish, to buy DVD's of Tom's various films with proceeds from those going towards the GCR's Bridging the Gap Appeal.

The venue is the GCR's Greenacres restaurant at Leicester North station.The bar will be open and light refreshments available as well.

Spaces are limited to only 50 on a first come first served basis, so if you are interested in coming or would like directions or further information, please contact project leader Steve Cramp by email

The Mountsorrel Railway restoration story has been quite a journey, we very much hope you will be able to come and share in this special evening!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Wildlife Warriors Learn About Butterflies at the Mountsorrel Railway

Our latest Wildlife Warriors event was another resounding success with children and parents travelling from as far away as south Nottinghamshire to attend. This time the children were creating butterfly feeders and making a wildlife themed book mark to take home.

Pictures from the event are below. Keep checking the website for news of our next event.

Many thanks goes to our volunteer Caroline Bowler who leads our Wildlife Warriors group and our other volunteers who helped to make the event possible, the Mercury News Agents on Leicester Road, Mountsorrel who provide sponsorship and to the Loughborough Echo for running an article helping to publicise the event.


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Next Wildlife Warriors Session

With the school summer holidays upon us and parents looking for new and interesting ways to keep the kids entertained, look no further as the Mountsorrel Railway comes to the rescue with our next Wildlife Warriors ecology activity session. What's more they are FREE to attend!

Please note that the next session is on WEDNESDAY August 7th at the earlier time of 10:30 until 12:00 instead of the usual Saturday afternoon time.

We hope many of you will be able to come along so please tell your friends, family and neighbours.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Double Success for the Mountsorrel Railway Project

On the evening of Thursday 27th June the Mountsorrel Railway Project achieved simultaneous funding and award successes.

At Mountsorrel Methodist Church we competed against ten other local good causes for a slice of £15,000 of funding that was available from the Leicestershire County Council Community Forum that covers the area through which the branch line runs. One of the projects dropped out before the evening and three others unfortunately left empty-handed. The prize winners were decided by a public vote and the Mountsorrel Railway Project came away with an allocation of £3,316 to go towards the cost of the proposed Bond Lane Halt.

Meanwhile, on the same evening, a few miles away at the Burleigh Court Hotel in Loughborough, two project volunteers, Lianne Holden and Sue Cramp, represented the project at Charnwood Borough Council’s ‘Don’t Muck Around’  environmental awards, for which we had been nominated in the ‘Inspiring Others’ category. The category was again decided by a public vote, organised through the Loughborough Echo.  However, our nomination had originally been mislaid so we were always playing ‘catch up’ in the voting and we were distinctly pessimistic about our prospects.  Therefore, it came as a bolt from the blue when it was announced that we had won the category and, apparently, by some margin!

The most encouraging factor about both of these successes is that, in both cases, they resulted not from the opinion of an ‘expert panel’, but from the votes of the general public and our dedicated supporters.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Wildlife Warriors Restore Dry Stone Walls

Many thanks to Charnwood Borough Council's Environment Officer Tim Adkin for coming along to show the Wildlife Warriors the ancient art of dry stone walling. On this occasion the Warriors group consisted of all age groups from the very young all the way through to those in their 70's.


 A great time was had by all and we were surprised to find just how addictive restoring a dry stone wall can be! Wildlife Warriors events normally come to a close at 3:30 but we still had people keen to lay "just one more stone" at 5pm.

Many thanks to Wildlife Warriors leader Caroline Bowler for organising such an interesting event.   
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