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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Lea Line (Alan Keef Ltd)

In a nutshell

Gauge:        2' and 3'6"

Length:      200 yd

Opened:    1968


Alan Keef Ltd
Lea Line,
Nr Ross-on-Wye

View Narrow Gauge Railways in a larger map


Date of visit:  22 September 2012


Key Facts

    • Alan Keef Ltd. is family firm which constructs railway items from 10¼" to 3' 6" gauge and occasionally builds items for standard gauge railways
    • Their main customers are industrial railways and railways for the leisure industry
    • They are now manufacturers of MotorRail Simplex locomotives and industrial monorail equipment
    • Each year they hold an open day (usually in September) when they open their doors to show the public what they are doing and usually provide train rides around their grounds.
    • In addition to stock for conventional narrow gauge railways, they have constructed replicas of tje Listowel & Ballybunion Railway monorail rack, locomotive and coaches.


      On open days the company's test track is used for passenger rides. This crosses the forecourt in front of the workshops and then curves around to the back.


      My Impressions

      It was pleasing to see so many people had travelled to the workshops. While indulging in a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake we watched the Hunslet replica of a Kerr Stuart Wren class Jennie (from the Amerton Railway) pottering about the yard with its toast-rack coach.

      I then wandered into the workshop to see some of the current projects on display. This rebuild of the Ruislip Lido Railway's bo-bo diesel loco Bayhurst caught my eye - an impressively chunky loco for a 12" gauge railway!

      Towards the back of the workshop was the chassis for the Welsh Highland Railway's iconic 2-6-2 loco Russell, awaiting its major overhaul.

      Its boiler was sitting outside in the yard.

      There were several other projects on display but my attention was distracted by the stalls of some railway booksellers where I found some quite obscure titles to add to my already bulging library. After perusing the railway preservation stands, I explored the yard. I can't resist poking about in neglected corners, though actually there weren't many of these on the site where everythign seems to have a purpose or oozes potential.

      I was intrigued by what looked like the chassis for some 3 foot gauge rolling stock - tempting enough to start my own preservation society - if only I had the funds!

      By this time, Jennie had been joined by her sister engine, the vertical boilered -4-0 Paddy, also from Amerton so I hopped aboard the coach and took a trip around the yard.

      We were very fortunate with the weather but I must say that the visit was well worthwhile. The entrance fee was modest but the opportunity to see a railway engineering workshop and its ongoing projects made this more than justifiable. The company's Open Day coincides with the Perrygrove Railway's annual gala and so, given this 15" gauge railway's proximity a visit to the two attractions makes for a great day out in a very attractive part of the world.


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