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©  Malcolm Pym

Tuesday 30th August 2016

20 members met at Oakham station at 11:20am. A fleet of taxis transported us to Rocks by Rail at nearby Cottesmore. This is the home of the former Rutland Railway Museum, who now market themselves as Rocks by Rail. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Robin Bickers, who was at one time an architect for British Rail. Robin explained that the plaque at the entrance was provided by the Arts Council, and that also in the car park was a big ‘tipper lorry’ which once carried Iron Ore.

Robin then escorted us to the entrance to the site, where he gave us a history of the line. In brief, it was opened in 1884 and closed in 1974 – just 10 years before its centenary.

The line was built by the Midland Railway to carry Iron Ore to the steelworks at Scunthorpe, as well as serving other locations from several other pits in the area.

The rail systems in the area were both standard and narrow gauge. The companies operated several walking drag lines too.

We were treated to tea and coffee by our hosts, and afterwards were shown over to the platform where a Southern and a Shark brake-van were waiting with Hunslet Barclay tank loco “Sir Thomas Roydon”. The group then had a brake-van ride to the end of the ‘quarter mile’ line, stopping briefly at the old bed of the Oakham Canal. It was purchased by the railway company and left to drain. Apparently, the company who owned the canal had many problems in retaining the water – they certainly got a good deal when selling!

On arrival back at the station, Robin showed us into the new building which had been obtained through a grant. It houses several industrial steam and diesel locomotives. The society are extremely grateful, as after several years stored in the open, they can now keep a lot of things under cover.

Outside, two members were repainting a locomotive. Some of our members opted for another ride behind the steam loco, whilst others meandered around taking in the site. During the afternoon, a diesel loco, (which was on the loading line) was replaced by another steam and a loading demonstration was given. We watched three tippler wagons being filled by a Ruston Bucyrus grab. The group were then invited trackside to take more photographs.

All too soon it was 15:15, and time to leave. Before our departure, Robin was presented with a gift pack on behalf of the Institution and the staff on site were thanked for making our visit an enjoyable one. Back at Oakham, members departed various ways, with some travelling on the 17:27 Oakham to London St Pancras service (which runs via the scenic Welland Valley and across the Harringworth viaduct).

Rocks by Rail (Rutland Railway)