Until 20th September 2012, there were no locomotives on site as we had yet to establish a secure storage system. The pictures of the locomotives were all taken at Clearwell Caves. However, we now have the Motor Rail Simplex and the Hunslet at Lea Bailey together with a container in which to keep one of them securely, the other being safe in the mine.
20th September 2012 was a big day in the short history of the Lea Bailey Light Railway. With our ‘new’ locomotive on site, we had the perfect excuse to ‘fire it up’ as we needed to test drive it before its planned debut performance on 22nd September. However, first it needed a new battery fitted. Rob raced it round the curve keeping the chain taut at a speed of at least 1 mph, after which we assembled virtually all the available stock for a run past requested by the webmaster. There was a short delay however while a miscellany of coupling devices were found — chains, hooks and wires in the best tradition of the Javan sugar cane trains. Finally, we had our trundle past and then after all that excitement it was time to put the little old lady to bed.
Special thanks again go to the Wrights at Clearwell who have entrusted their Motor Rail Simplex with us.
20th September 2012 was a big day in the short history of the Lea Bailey Light Railway. First we went to Clearwell Caves where our Simplex locomotive was waiting for us and then saw it loaded onto Ian Harrison’s special lorry. Appropriately, Ray Wright who had started the Lea Bailey project some years back was there to watch. We raced to Lea Bailey and there Rob and Steve who had been responsible for most of the preparation of the site there looked on like a pair of proud fathers.
Meanwhile a couple of days earlier, Shane had welded up the rails which were to provide the base for the container which will provide secure storage. Just a couple of hours after delivering the Simplex, Ian Harrison was back with our new container. In expert hands the unloading took no time and it was placed exactly as planned. In between we had been busy doing what all little boys ought to like doing, playing with our new train.
The original Gold Mine at Lea Bailey was established in 1906 and was unsuccessful. While there are small quantities of gold present in the area, it seems unlikely that they are economically exploitable. However, there is a small adit on site which was used later to extract ironstone from the same source as earlier mines in the Wigpool area higher up the hill. Running nearly 600 yards into the hillside it has suffered some rock falls. It is said that a narrow gauge railway was built to the mine from Mitcheldean Road but like its standard gauge predecessor never used. The Euroclydon tunnel has also been considered as a base for further exploration.
Some time ago the Wrights who operate the tourist attraction at Clearwell Caves sought to establish a new attraction here and brought a significant amount of materials and rolling stock (the latter almost 100% ex-National Coal Board in origin). However, it was eventually aborted and the better stock removed to Clearwell.
The existing infrastructure dates from the time the mine was due to be promoted as a tourist attraction. The right to the gale is owned by the Wright family, the land shown is owned by the Forestry Commission and leased to them. The Commission has indicated that subject to us obtaining the appropriate planning permission from Herefordshire County Council, they will probably agree to allow us extend the railway in the mine area to cover the trackbed up to the bridge and again up to the limit of their land.