This Sunday: Amberley Museum's big spring event...

14 April 2023
Ride on industrial passenger trains, a Wickham petrol railcar, or watch a monorail system in action at the museum's Spring Industrial Trains Day.

On Sunday April 16, Amberley Museum is to host its annual Spring Industrial Trains Day featuring the museum’s collection of trains. The organisers promise "lots for visitors to see and do" on the day from riding on industrial passenger trains, including the Wickham petrol railcar, to watching the Road Machines contractor’s monorail system in action.

The Industrial Railway Collection at Amberley Museum in West Sussex has become one of the most important collections of industrial railway equipment in the UK. The history of the collection dates back to the formation of the Brockham collection and acquisitions by the Narrow Gauge Railway Society during the 1950s and 1960s.

Amberley Museum April spring industrial trains day

Visitors to Amberley Museum this Sunday can enjoy seeing industrial trains in action alongside beautiful nature trails to the South Down Bus collection, a working print shop to historic craftworkers. Tickets can be booked in advance from the Amberley Museum website.

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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.

Amberley Museum April spring industrial trains day

In 1982, the local Thakeham Tiles company decided to dispense with its short narrow gauge railway in favour of a conveyor belt system. The company donated the entire railway, track, wagons and locomotives to the Museum on condition that they removed it over one weekend. Some of the track, one of the locomotives 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.

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. With it came many locomotives, rolling stock and sundry related items and the much enlarged collection has become one of the most significant in the UK. It also resulted in the railway collection at Amberley taking a new direction, constructing its passenger-carrying line.

The Brockham collection included two 2ft gauge steam locomotives, Polar Bear and Peter. Restoration of both was completed at Amberley. Polar Bear was taken out of service in 2022 and needs a mechanical and boiler overhaul. Details of how to support its restoration can be found on the Amberley Museum website.

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