Alderney Railway

Alderney Railway Line
Alderney Railway Line

The Alderney Railway was constructed in the 1840s by the British Government to convey stone from the eastern end of the Island to build the breakwater and the Victorian forts. It was the first nationalised railway run by the Admiralty. It opened in 1847 and is one of the oldest lines in the British Isles. The breakwater was originally 1,430 metres long but a third of the length was lost in a severe storm shortly after construction was completed. The current length is 870 metres.

The first official passengers, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, were carried on the 8th August 1854. The Royal guests were conveyed in a horse drawn tender. The railway continued in its mineral carrying capacity for the remainder of the 19th century.

In the winter of 1911/1912 a train drawn by a Pecket locomotive “No 2” ran off the end of the Breakwater into the sea. Both driver and fireman survived and the locomotive was eventually salvaged and repaired. All locomotives working on the breakwater then had to carry life belts!

The Admiralty continued using the railway for foreshoring the breakwater but in 1921 it is thought the line and quarrying rights were leased to a company by the name of Brookes Limited. By this time Alderney was exporting crushed stone to be used as road aggregate. Brookes Limited (the largest employer on the Island) continued quarrying operations up until the German occupation in 1940. At this time virtually all of the Islanders were evacuated to England and Scotland. During this period the Germans did not carry out any maintenance on the breakwater and lifted quite a large section of the railway replacing it with a 60 cm gauge system.

Alderney Railway
Metro-Cammell Tube Cars

After the war the Ministry of Defence relaid the railway back to standard gauge and used panels featuring concrete sleepers. The locomotive at that time was “Molly” a Sentinel vertical boiler 4 wheeled engine. Rolling stock came in the form of 24 “lend lease” side tipping wagons known as “Yankees.” The wagons were used to tip granite into the sea from the top of the breakwater to maintain the rubble mound that carries the breakwater superstructure.

In 1958 “Molly 2” arrived as a kit in the shape of a 4 wheeled diesel built by Ruston-Hornsby. She was assembled with additional slab weights to improve her adhesion qualities. Further details to be found in the “Motive Power” link.

By the mid 1970s the British Home Office who had taken over the responsibility of maintaining the railway and breakwater were approached to see if the line could be used as a passenger carrying venture. After several years of negotiations a lease was eventually granted and the first revenue earning passenger train consisting of a two car Wickham trolley set ran on the 5 March 1980. The Alderney Railway Society was under way. The Wickhams still run on a regular basis and details can be found in the “Motive Power” section.

In 1982 an 0-4- 0 Bagnall steam locomotive by the name of “J.T. Daly was acquired and ran with two ex Chatham Dockyard open wagons which had some light weight roofs to provide some protection for the passengers. JT Daly remained with the Alderney Railway until the early 1990s but due to its limited use and high cost of maintenance was subsequently sold to the Pallot Steam Museum in Jersey.

1985 saw the arrival of the Vulcan Drewry 0-4-0 diesel locomotive “Elizabeth” which after twenty years is still providing sterling service. Further details to be found in the “Motive Power” link.>

By 1987 it was decided to try and provide improved accommodation for our passengers and two ex London Underground 1938 tube cars were acquired from the North Downs Railway. These were drawn and propelled by Elizabeth and gave good service but by 2000 we became aware that both vehicles had unfortunately succumbed to corrosion caused by the salt sea air. They were returned to England and scrapped.

In 2001 the Alderney Railway acquired two replacement 1959 tube cars from London Underground numbered 1044 and 1045. These vehicles have aluminium bodies and hopefully will survive the salt air.



Rolling Stock

D100 Elizabeth
D100 Elizabeth

D100 Elizabeth
This locomotive is a Drewry design and was built at the Vulcan Foundry , Newton Le Willows, Lancashire. “Elizabeth” was named after the Factory Nurse Miss Elizabeth Poole following a name choice ballot by all members of staff. The locomotive was kept at the Vulcan Site as the works shunter. When railway production ceased the Alderney Railway contacted Lord Weinstock who was chairman of GEC and he referred us to Newton Le Willows. The Vulcan Foundry built many steam locomotives and is also famous for the production of the Deltic diesels together with Class 37’s, Class 50’s and Class 73’s. In addition the Vulcan Foundry built many BR electric locomotives including the Class 86. Elizabeth arrived in Alderney in 1984, in pieces, as the Alderney crane had an insufficient lifting capacity. She was dismantled at the Royal Corps of Transport at Marchwood and brought across on a landing craft. Thanks to Ian Mercer, John Symonds, Graham Brain and Marc Le Blanc she was reassembled and running within six days of arrival.

Elizabeth is an 0-4-0 diesel mechanical powered by a six cylinder Gardner 6L3 diesel engine. This eighteen litre power unit which produces 153 BHP at 1,200 rpm was remanufactured in 2003 by Paul Gardner Engineering of Manchester. The motion was reconditioned and the wheels had new tyres fitted in 2002 by the Mid Hants Railway.

Molly 2
This locomotive is a Ruston Hornsby built in 1958 to work on the Alderney breakwater. Due to limited craneage facilities Molly was sent over in kit form and has large slab weights attached to her sides to improve her rail adhesion. Molly has an 88 BHP four cylinder Ruston diesel engine. She is unable to haul the tube cars as she features US style couplings and she has a restricted compressed air charging system. Molly came into the ownership of the Alderney Railway a few years ago having been previously owned by the States of Guernsey. A complete refurbishment (mechanicals and body work) is being undertaken.

Metro-Cammell Tube Cars
These are ex London Underground and were built in 1959. The car numbers are 1044 and 1045 and are both driving cars. They had the distinction of forming part of the Northern Line Centenary train and feature London Underground livery of the 1920s. The units were delivered by two Army landing craft in 2001 and the two former 1938 cars were returned to England for cannibalisation by London Underground and scrapping at Booths of Rotherham.

The Alderney Railway has six cars of which four form a train. They were obtained in late 1970s and early 1980s from British Rail and the Army. A typical single car unit features a Ford 1200 cc petrol engine and can seat seven adults plus the driver.


Alderney Miniature Railway

In addition to standard gauge railway, the Alderney Railway owns and operates a 71/4 inch miniature railway at Mannez Quarry. The “miniature’s” permanent way extends to about a quarter of a mile. This little railway runs on most Sundays during July and August and usually for the Santa Special (subject to weather) and the Easter Egg special.