11 October 2023
This Sunday (October 15th, 2023), Amberley Museum will be hosting its annual Autumn Industrial Trains Day, showcasing the Museum’s collection of trains.
The history of the collection actually goes back further than even the initial concept of the Museum at Amberley, with the formation of the Brockham collection and acquisitions by the Narrow Gauge Railway Society during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Brockham collection included two 2ft gauge steam locomotives, ‘Polar Bear’ and ‘Peter’, both at that time in varying states of disrepair. Restoration of both was subsequently completed at Amberley. ‘Peter’ will be in steam over throughout the day and visitors can enjoy a ride behind the 105-year-old locomotive.
Initially, the collection at Amberley Museum was envisaged as a small operation, demonstrating typical industrial narrow gauge trains. The first locomotive to arrive on site was the Motor Rail Hibberd 1980/1936, donated to the Museum by Southern Water and previously used at the City of Chichester Sewage Works at Apuldram, to the south of the City.
In 1982, the local Thakeham Tiles company decided to dispense with their short narrow gauge railway in favour of a conveyor belt system. The company donated the entire railway, track, wagons and locos to the Museum on condition that they removed the whole thing over one weekend! Some of the track, one of the locos and the wagons are still in use at Amberley today. Thakeham Tiles No.4 is Hudson Hunslet 3653/1946. The rear end was rebuilt by Thakeham Tiles to enable the locomotive to enter a low building containing a wagon unloading hopper.
Hudson Hunslet 2208/1941 - Thakeham Tiles No.3 is also part of the collection. This originally worked at the Trevor Quarry Co in North Wales and after purchase by Thakeham Tiles, received the same cab modifications as No.4.
This was originally as far as development of the collection was to go until in 1982 the collection of industrial and narrow gauge items, formerly kept at the Brockham Museum's site near Dorking, was brought to Amberley when the Brockham Museum Trust found they were unable to develop further. It also resulted in the railway collection at Amberley taking a completely new direction in that a passenger-carrying line was proposed and built.
Visitors can enjoy seeing these industrial trains in action, alongside all the other attractions the museum has to offer. For more information and to book tickets, head to www.amberleymuseum.co.uk