Leek and Rudyard Railway
The current 10.25 inch gauge railway at Rudyard dates from 1985. It was built by Peter Hanton of Congleton over the period from 1985 to 1993. He did this working largely on his own. He sadly started to suffer from poor health and sold the railway in October 2000 to the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway Ltd. This is a company formed by Mike & Eileen Hanson to own and develop the railway. Along with a talented group of volunteers work proceeded steadily to achieve this over 15 years. In 2014 the railway was put up for sale because of declining health and was purchased in December 2015 by Leek and Rudyard Railway Ltd.
Rudyard Lake Steam Railway History
North Staffordshire Railway (Churnet Valley Line) 1850-1964
This standard gauge railway connected Macclesfield to Uttoxeter. Used for local passenger trains and goods. The North Staffordshire Railway owned the lake due to ownership of the Trent & Mersey canal and spent a lot of time and effort to develop Rudyard to boost tourism. They bought the Rudyard Hotel and expanded it. In time the traffic fell away after local management went first into the London Midland and Scottish Railway and then British Railways. The line close to passengers in 1960 and goods in 1964. It was lifted soon afterwards north of Leek station.
The Nicholson Miniature Railway 1976-78
This was a 10.25 inchgauge railway running from the car park to the Dam head and constructed by Brian Nicholson headmaster of Waterhouses School . It used a model of Leek & Manifold Valley Light Railway No.1 E.R. Calthrope. It was moved to Suffolk and then Trago Mills In Devon where it still runs managed by Brian's son David. It has returned to Rudyard in 2004, 2007 and 2012.
Rudyard Lake Railway by Peter Hanton (this is his own account)
Construction of the line began in December 1984 and passenger services commenced from Rudyard Station in August 1985 over a length of 300 yards and this was progressively increased by a further 100 yards by October 1985. Easter 1986 saw the inauguration of services to the Dam giving an overall length of 700 yards. During 1986 a larger locomotive shed was constructed and run round loops installed at Rudyard and the Dam. Work on the extension beyond the Dam started in September 1987 and regular services to lakeside commenced in August 1988. The line was then extended beyond Lakeside loop to the terminus at Hunthouse Wood over the next few years formally opening in 1993. The original Locomotives:
No.1 Kingsley 0-4-0 Diesel Mechanical powered by a 3HP Peter AVA1. Built in 1954 by Curwen and Newbury of Devizes. Operated previously on the Shillingstone Light Railway in Dorset where is was named Belle. It is a frequest return visitor to Rudyard.
No.2 0-4-0 Petrol Mechanical powered by a 1000cc BMC engine. Built about 1969 by Terry Stanhope of Leeds as a 2 foot gauge engine. Later rebuilt to 15 inch gauge. Acquired by Peter Hanton in 1971. In March 1973 it was tested on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. It was re-guaged in early 1986 and arrived at Rudyard the following June. Various modifications were necessary and it was not until December that it entered regular traffic.
No. 5013 Ivanhoe 4-4-0 Steam, built in 1937 by HCS Bullock incorporating various parts from a Stirling single ex Pitmarston Moor Railway. It ran at California in England near Eversley in Hampshire then approximately to 1938 at Kerrs Miniature Railway at Arbroath in Scotland. Early in 1947 it was sold to the Royal Anchor Railway at Liphook in Hants and again in 1953 to a Mr. George Woodcock of Bishop Stortford who extensively rebuilt it including fabricating a new smokebox and fitting larger diameter driving wheels. It was bought by Peter in 1954 and ran on short lines at Gamesley near Glossop and Eaton, Congleton, Cheshire. A new copper boiler was constructed in 1976 and the engine entered service at Rudyard in May 1987. It is now in Hampshire.
Rudyard Lake Steam Railway took over in late 2000 and its history is shown on the Railway News pages.
Isle of Mull Railway History
The Isle of Mull Railway closed in 2011 after nearly 30 years of operations and everything was put up for sale in 2012. Amid much secrecy most the assets were purchased in October in 2012 and removed from the island and stored in Oban. The assets purchased consisted of diesel locomotive Frances, virtually all the passenger carriages, 17 sets of points, 1.25 miles of track, 2 turntables and the Craignure signal. Shortly after that the diesel locomotive "Glen Auldyn" and the steam locomotive "Victoria" were also purchased.
And so the search began for a new site to locate everything; the original idea to located it on Speyside on former GNSR trackbed fell through after landowners could not be persuaded to sell. A further site at Norham Station in the borders also succumbed to the same problem. Meanwhile the railway sat silently in storage awaiting its future to be decided.
Several more sites came and went and nothing suitable was really found; a farm site south of Oban was considered but access proved too difficult to overcome. In the meantime the three former Mull locomotives had been moved to Rudyard to keep them in operational condition.
The rest you can read elsewhere; a deal to purchase Rudyard Lake Steam Railway was done late in 2015 and the assets of Rudyard and Mull were combined into a new company, Leek and Rudyard Railway Ltd - the name being chosed to reflect the growth aspirations of the new railway using the assets from Mull. The Isle of Mull Railway lives on at Rudyard both physically and in spirit through the annual Isle of Mull gala.