Thursday, 20 June 2019

Extra Open Day

Hi there, just a quick reminder, in case you have forgotten ????, we have an extra Open Day this coming Sunday, June 23rd, weather permitting of course, and it's looking good !, to celebrate 'Thunderbox's' 30th Birthday, and also to remember the Little Melton Light Railway which would have also been around for 30 years this year. Trains running as usual on our Public Open days, from 2 til 5 pm, and we plan to have all the ex Little Melton stock on view and hopefully in use, including 'Thunderbox', now resplendent in its 'refurbished' mode and looking very smart. Hope to see you then.
Usual fares apply, i.e. £2.00 single ride and £4 for Day Rover, (sorry no dogs allowed nor is the consumption of alcohol allowed on the premises.)

Monday, 10 June 2019

June update

Loco line up on June 2nd

Hi there, we had a good Open Day on 2nd June when our visitors enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, riding behind 'Hotspur' , 'Chieftain', 'Little Olive', 'Remus' and 'General', and we are pleased to report that everything ran very well, and the weather behaved too! Good to see our visiting locos again and thanks to Paul, Chris and David for coming over to help out, we know they love coming to see us !

Andy, Jack and Bob King admiring  the Showman's engine.
We also had a welcome visit by the Potter's lovely scale model Showmans engine which was in steam during the afternoon and on display for everyone to see, Thanks to Andy and Jack for bringing it over under its own steam too!

The Class 08 on Shunting duties
Our Juniors, had a good day helping the Yardmaster in placing locos and coaches where required using Peter's Class 08 shunter,  very appropriate ! Our new carriage leanto is in use housing two three car sets giving us more space in the storage shed, where we are reviewing what goes where. The 'work' train with Atlas is now resident on track 4.  
So, we are now continuing with all those jobs that need to be done throughout the year, the vegetation is growing like mad, as usual, and it's good to see the 'shortened' trees already bushing up.We have been very busy working away on 'Thunderbox' to ensure the loco is ready for its 30th Birthday occasion on Sunday 23rd June when we will be celebrating the loco's Birthday and also remembering the Little Melton Light Railway, which would have been celebrating its 30th year. A new hydrostatic drive has been obtained and fitted to the loco and all is being checked and tweaked as necessary to ensure the loco is able to make an appearance on 23rd. 
We have started to look at providing a separate Guards vehicle on each train and will come up with a suitable plan using Ken's existing Guards vehicle as a test bed. We feel it needs springing and should be a bit longer to accommodate the Guards in more comfort, with possibly a slightly higher seat to allow a better view along the train. Once a suitable design is agreed we plan to have the chassis manufactured off site in a batch, so we can complete the vehicles, possibly over the coming Winter, as finances allow. Each vehicle will be finished to match its carriage set.
So, finally, don't forget our extra Open Day on Sunday June 23rd when we hope to have a good afternoon running trains, including, all being well. 'Thunderbox' for the first time in over 2 years, along with several of our other locos. Trains will run from 2 til 5 pm weather permitting, and our usual refreshments will be available, but please remember that dogs are not allowed onsite nor is the consumption of alcohol permitted, thanks....

and we were delighted on Saturday, to see Alan back on 'Lucille' after his recent op, Well done Al!, 


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Thunderbox at 30 Day

Hi, we are pleased to announce that we are having an extra Open Day on Sunday 23rd June, to celebrate 'Thunderbox' at 30, and also to remember the Little Melton Light Railway which would also be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year had it still been operational. We owe a lot to the LMLR as we got the best possible start to building the ALR as we were able to buy a lot of track, 3 sets of coaches, 'Thunderbox' and 'General' from the owner. We were also able eventually, to purchase 'Hotspur' from Norman Duffield, a staunch member of the LMLR and also in the early days, a member of the ALR.
So we will have trains, mostly steam hauled, running from 2 til 5 pm, with 'Thunderbox' making an appearance after the loco's refurbishment which is nearly complete, and is looking really smart due to the devoted efforts of our team led mainly by Pierre.Well done Chaps !
We will be open, as usual on Public Open Days, from 2 til 5 pm, and we look forward to seeing you then. Light refreshments and ice creams will be available but would you note that the consumption of alcohol is not permitted on the premises.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Good Open Day start to 2019

Hello there, just a quick update for you......we had a good start to our 2019 Open Day running on may 5th, with a good turnout of visitors on what was a very cold, but thankfully, dry afternoon. Thank you for coming to see us!

Preparing 'Holkham' for an Open Day run
We had a variety of locos out with 'Hotspur' and 'Isabel' running faultlessly all afternoon. Well done Keith and Pierre. They were helped by 'Little Olive' and 'Holkham ', with Paul and Chris driving these popular locos. We also ran 'General', and  'Chieftain',. The Shay was failed on Sunday morning after problems with the throttle, and 'Prospero' was having a rest whilst Peter carried out 'Yard Boss' duties.

Final run for our hardworking staff enjoying the ride with 'Isabel'  after a good afternoon !
We are pleased to report that 'Hotspur', 'Isabel', and 'Prospero' all passed their Steam inspections and tests on Saturday 4th May, and 'Lucille' has had a bit of attention and has been sucessfully steamed so she can be tested by Brian B in the near future.

'Lucille' being steamed up to check all is  OK for steam testing
Work on the new carriage storage lean to (two tracks - 60 feet) is well advanced and just needs its doors to be made..  

John and John fixing the final roof panels on 11th May

Platform in the Spring sunshine
All photos: Brian M


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

All Systems Go ?

Springtime at Ashmanhaugh

Hello there. We hope you had an enjoyable Easter break in the lovely sunshine, is Summer here already ? Hope so. With our first 2019 Public Open Day approaching fast (Sunday May 5th 2 til 5 pm), we are busy getting everything ready, so track is being tweaked with more 'H' Section joint members being fitted, and track being checked, with sleepers and ballast replaced as necessary. All the signals are in place and working, as is the track circuiting, and the CCTV cameras are also in position and working. 
Signals being fitted back on the station gantry (Graham and Ricardo)
Much painting of fencing and gates is being done with rotten palings being replaced as necessary. The 'Beware of Trains' signs have been repainted and re lettered.

Posh refurbished gate signs
The coaches have had a good check and service in the pit shed, a good sweep out and the seat swabs put back in place. 
Coaches being serviced in the pit shed (Keith, John and Pierre) 
The steam locos are currently being checked and serviced with injectors being cleaned and new sight glasses to be fitted. 'Hotspur' and 'Prospero' have been steamed up and are ready for action. 

'Prospero' being checked by Peter and our newest young member Isaac
Lucille, Isabel are next in the queue, as is the 'Shay' which needs to go over the pit to have all its 'underneath ' bits and pieces checked and everything oiled and lubricated. We have fitted a new loudspeaker which is giving a much better 'whistle' sound (???), just like the real ones !
We are also pressing on with the construction of the new carriage storage leanto at the side of the existing one, now that the metal roof and wall cladding panels have arrived, with the timber frame almost complete. When finished this will give us room to store another two sets of three coaches, which should keep us quiet for a while (now when did I hear that before?).

Checking that the new roof panels fit ! (they do!)
Timber frame nearly complete 20th April

So we hope everything will be ready for Sunday May 5th, and look forward to seeing old friends (and new ?) during the afternoon. We are expecting two visiting locos from our 'Honorary' members South of Norwich, so we should have a good afternoon. 
Tickets as last year, £2.00 Single (white ticket, all classes) gives one ride round our circuits (approx 9 mins), and £4.00 Rover (hand stamp, all classes) for as many rides as you can fit in ! See you then !


Monday, 18 March 2019

Quick March Update

Hi, we've just got to tell you that we have, at long last, installed our first run of plastic sleepered track down at the Lake. All went well and we are very pleased, so we look forward to testing it and seeing how it beds in, but so far so good !

So we make.....

First plastic sleepered panels ready to lay

..then on site at Lakeside, we install !!


The new section of plastic sleepered track down to the Lake newly ballasted on 16th March 2019
Meanwhile over at Laurel Sidings ......the old track sections from the Lake are being used in our new, extended carriage siding leanto .....

...and in the station area, rotting point motor sleepers are being  replaced (in plastic of course!)


Monday, 18 February 2019


An early morning frost on 23rd January 2019
Yes, we are still here and enjoying the current spell of lovely, warm and sunny weather, long may it continue, although we are sure that we will get some winter weather yet !
We are quite busy on our Wednesday and Saturday 'play days', there is activity out on the track with the installation of some more of the newly designed expansion 'joints', and the replacement of some rotten sleepers found on the back straight. This will soon be a job of the past, certainly on the Lake section, as we (well Pierre actually!) have been and collected our first batch of plastic from the very helpful people at Filcris near Cambridge. We had the 50 x 50 mm sections cut into 1.5 m lengths so they would fit in Pierre's vehicle, and then we will cut them into 350 mm or so long sleepers. We are in the process of obtaining the necessary fixings and timber for track edging. Then we can start to remove the existing track sections, so we can ensure the membrane and ballast is ready to receive the new plastic sleepered sections! Exciting or what !!!! Well some of us are, it has been a while under discussion and we look forward to seeing how we get on !
Maintenance of the signals is ongoing and in view of the very mild weather, we have started to restain all the timber posts for the CCTV, telephone boxes and station lamp posts.
'Metposts' are very useful for support  to Signals 13/14 post!

Work on repainting the wagons is also coming along. Johnny B has been busy working on the lathe forming a new drive chain cog for 'Thunderbox' and we look forward to seeing the power unit back soon. Repainting of the metal chassis and other metal bits is under way with a paint to match the existing colour being sourced. and talking of painting, our toilets are currently being repainted to keep them smart. So plenty going on..... 
Work still continues with the tree trimming and resultant tidying up, and we think you may spot the difference when you come to see us on one of our Open Days this year.
We are also planning an additional Open Day to celebrate what would have been the 30th Anniversary of the Little Melton Light Railway during which we hope that we will have 'Thunderbox' back in action, fully overhauled, as that loco is also 30 this year, being one of the first locos to run on the LMLR. So if you were involved at all with the LMLR, we would love to hear from you. More details later, but pencil in Sunday June 23rd as the Day ! 

Now, do you have a loco that you would like to run on our railway ? Then why not contact us to see when you could come along? We are having a Fun Day/Loco visiting day once a month through the season, so if you are interested why not give Alan Ball a call (07717 502597 or via ''), or contact us via '' ? 
We'd love to see you ! (and your loco !)


Thursday, 10 January 2019

Happy New Year

Two of the trains on our Mince Pie Specials Day in December
Hello 2019, here we are already well into January and lots going on at the railway to tell you about! On the lead up to Christmas we thought we would have a 'Mince Pie Special' day to run some trains and to have a bit of fun before we departed for the Christmas festivities. Several trains were run during the day with Chieftain, The General, Atlas and Peter's Class 08 all making an appearance, which allowed us to appreciate the work that Randy and his track gang had been doing over the past few months, enabling everything to run smoothly around our circuits. Well done Guys! Line of sight operation was the order of the day as all the signals have been taken into the workshops for maintenance. There was a goodly selection of mince pies, sausage rolls and other delicacies brought in by our members, so we had a good day!
Randy has been scheming a method of allowing the rails to expand without distorting the track sections, and he has, with the help of member's suggestions ! ( several of them !!!), and practical assistance....... fabricated the first prototype ready to test, although it will be a while. we think before the temperatures rise enough make the rails expand! We will let you know in due course what happens! There is talk of the method being Patented !!!!!!!  Also on the track front, we are planning on going to collect our first batch of plastic sleeper lengths soon, so we can make a start on the Lake section 'upgrade'.

Ray driving 'Atlas' back to the yard after a track work session seen passing the tree felling gang on the back straight
The S & T Boys have been busy refurbishing, replacing signal post and dollys (or is it dollies), as well as tweaking and improving some of the electronics as well.
Serious tree clearing and trimming work continues around the site, which is providing some interesting, and different, more open views around the circuits, as we discovered on the Mince Pie Specials Day. Looks a bit sparse at the moment, but when the trimmed trees and bushes start to green up again, it will look better, and of course it will be much easier to keep the trees and bushes trimmed.  
The boys have made a start on stripping down the wagons ready for a repaint, we have constructed a shelter for the track Gang to have their sleeper treatment tank under cover, as well as being a dry spot in which to store the coal bags. We are awaiting a decision about where to put the television and the bar !!!!!! 
We are delighted to report also, that work has started on the 'refurbishment' of Thunderbox. The engine has been removed from the chassis and Pierre's contact is confident that  with a bit of a tweak and some new HT leads. the engine will be good to go!. The hydrostatic unit has been serviced cleaned and the oil replenished, and the chassis given a good clean, so we are looking forward hearing that the engine is Ok so we can put everything back together, with new wiring and a revised exhaust, enabling us to use this loco again later this year. 

Pierre and Johnny working on Thunderbox's roof trimming excercise
Pierre and young Ben working on 'ThunderBox's chassis in the workshop

As 'Thunderbox' will be 30 years old this year we are planning to celebrate this (as it would have been the Little Melton Light Railway's 30th too) with an event, details of which will be published soon. So if there is anyone out there reading this that 'worked' on the Little Melton Light Railway or knows of someone who did, we would be delighted to hear from them! 
Think that's all for now, we'll be back soon with more updates, so until then may we wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year with lots of trains !!!!!!