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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 This website is no longer updated.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:

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.        
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