Discover the living ironstone museum in the heart of Rutland.
Our 2024 operating season starts on Sunday March 31st. This year we showcase Sundew’s Great Walk – more on our Facebook pages.
At Rocks by Rail we have the most comprehensive collection of standard gauge quarry railway rolling stock in the UK. Scroll down to browse our exhibits or click on a link below to go to your area of interest:
An image with a blue border indicates exhibit is no longer at the museum. We have no information regarding the current whereabouts or status but you could try UK & Ireland Heritage Railways site.
When trainloads of minerals were worked over the mainline railways, the long loose coupled trains were supervised by the Guard who rode in his own vehicle at the back of the train. This contained a heavy duty brake to assist stopping the train but also carried the lamps and paperwork record for the train. Visitors will also see the working environment provided for the guard.
The Museum currently has four Brake Vans to operate with our trains on the steep branch line but also to provide authentic visitor rides.
M-286341 LMS 20-ton built in 1926.M731874 on loan from The Furness Railway TrustS491007 built at Ashford for the Army.DB993734 Shark.
In certain quarries ore was mixed with coal slack and a process of “Calcining” which burnt the raw ore was carried out to drive off volatile material and reduce weight. This was particularly relevant when the ore had to be taken a long way and Burley Quarry, for instance, employed the method for its ore, which had to be taken to the Dorman Long steelworks in the North East. In many cases when the ore wasn’t burnt on the quarry floor, internal wagons were used to transport the ore from the quarry to the “cally banks”. These were often in the style of the older side tipping “ship canal” designs originating in the earliest days of railways. Later these were replaced with four-wheel steel skip wagons and we were able to preserve two rare examples built by G R Turner of Langley Mill in 1942, each having three transverse skips, these being lifted by a dedicated crane at the clamps. They were often used for delivery of coal to the calcining operation where layers of coal slack were mixed with the raw ore to part smelt it before the onward journey to the steelworks.
8555/49/1 skip wagon Stewart & Lloyds (Minerals) Ltd8555/49/4 skip wagon Stewart & Lloyds (Minerals) Ltd
CHALK and CLAY TIPPLER WAGONS
The quarry railways at Ketton, Rutland and Barrington in Cambridgeshire used specific internal user tippler wagons to transport the raw materials for the cement making process from the on-site quarries to the production plant.
We were donated representative wagons from both railway systems. These now form two rakes for demonstration purposes with Thomas Hill Mr. D on the four Barrington wagons and Fowler Ketton No.1 with 3 Ketton tipplers on the Cements Quarry Open Days.
Rugby Cement No.6. Body built for Rugby Cement by Klose Engineering of Orwell, Cambs . Mounted on ex BR 26 ton iron ore tippler chassis no. B380334Rugby Cement No.7. Body built for Rugby Cement by Klose Engineering of Orwell, Cambs . Mounted on ex BR 26 ton iron ore tippler chassis no. B388141Rugby Cement No.31. Body built for Rugby Cement by Klose Engineering of Orwell, Cambs . Mounted on ex BR 26 ton iron ore tippler chassis no. B388309.Built 1961 for Eastwoods Cement at Barrington to carry 15tons max.Ketton K1 built by Ketton Portland Cement Co, Rutland. Note reverse hand brake levers.Ketton K39 built by Butterley Co. Ltd, Ripley for Ketton Cement. Note reverse hand brake levers.Ketton K42 built by Butterley Co. Ltd, Ripley for Ketton Cement. Note reverse hand brake levers.
Also known as side-tipping wagons, these 15-ton buckeye coupling fitted wagons were inspired by American practice and were pioneered in Britain and the ironstone ore fields by the Oxfordshire Ironstone Company. They were built from 1920 by Gloucester C&W Co., Metro-Cammell and Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon to work from quarry face to the crushing plant at Wroxton. They were later used at other quarries particularly Corby for moving overburden and sand excavated during quarrying.
No.76 (8555/50/4) Built by Birmingham C&W Co. in 1939.No.97 (8555/50/25) Built by Birmingham C&W Co. in 1939.No.125 (8555/50/53) Built by Metro-Cammell in 1940.No. 141 (8555/50/69) Built by Metro-Cammell in 1940 (fitted with converter draw gear).No. 144 (8555/50/72) Built by Metro-Cammell in 1940 (fitted with converter draw gear)).No.148 (8555/50/76) Built by Metro-Cammell in 1940.
HEAVY PLANT WAGONS
Specialist vehicles for transporting large loads such as excavators, dragline buckets and heavy equipment into the quarries.
S&L 40 ton well wagon “Digger Trolley” built by Head Wrightson & Co.S&L 3001. BR built 3 plank dropside wagon. Runner and brake for the “Digger Trolley”
The introduction of steel hopper wagons in the 1930’s heralded attempts to improve the load carrying capacity for ore traffic with purpose built wagons suitable for loading at the quarry face and easy discharge at the steel works. Unlike “ore tippler wagons“, these were less efficient for unloading with a bottom door for discharge. When the railways were nationalised, many wagons were pooled to BR. It was not uncommon for coal hoppers to find their way into ore traffic often with dire consequences for the lifespan of the wagons concerned.
B436257 BR 22 ton ex NRM
M690379 LMS ???.
M691079 LMS 20 ton built 1938 by Metro-Cammell.M691193 LMS 20 ton built 1938 by Metro-Cammell.M691404 LMS 20 ton built 1938 by Metro-Cammell.M691535 LMS 20 ton built 1939.
M691576 LMS ???.M691793 LMS 20 ton built 1939.M691804 LMS ???.P101011 built by Charles Roberts in 1926 for the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co. and subsequently nationalised but retained for ore traffic.
P15675 built in 1931 by Metro-Cammell as a 20-ton coal hopper to an earlier Cammell Laird, Nottingham design for Liverpool Corporation Electric Supply and designed for carrying coal. Nationalised and pooled.
P210000 20 ton built by Charles Roberts for Appleby-Frodingham Steel Company. Nationalised and pooled but retained for ore traffic particularly to Scunthorpe from United Steel quarries at Cottesmore, Exton Park and Colsterworth.
ROCKS by RAIL MUSEUM SERVICE WAGONS
We have a number of wagons that are used to support the running and maintenance of the Museum.
20 ton tank wagon built in 1925 by Charles Roberts & Co. for British Sugar Corporation and used for transporting molassess. Registered as LNER no. 36594 British Sugar, Newark, Notts. Currently used as water carrier.E278482. Built by LNER and used to transport locomotive boilers.
BR 25 ton Trout Ballast Hopper Wagon.DB903604 Dogfish ballast wagon.
Lowmac machinery wagon.
ORE TIPPLER WAGONS
After the railways were nationalised under British Railways a “Modernisation Plan” was introduced. This started a rapid process to replace less efficient wagons (see “hopper wagons“) in the home iron ore industry with simple, robust low tare weight “tipplers” capable of working from the quarry face to steelworks where the wagons were physically tipped over to discharge their contents. In all 9,590 wagons were built between 1951 and 1960 and very quickly becoming the ubiquitous wagon in the East Midlands ore fields. Our operational rakes represent the last phase of railway wagon operation from the mid-1950’s until the quarry closures of the 1970’s. Although similar, keen students will spot minor build differences between the wagons.
B383560 27 ton unfitted, built 1954 at Shildon to diagram 1/181, Lot No. 2601. On loan from the National Railway Museum.B384428 27 ton unfitted, built 1954 at Shildon to diagram 1/183. Lot No. 2730.
B384768 27 ton unfitted, built 1955 at Shildon to diagram 1/183. Lot No. 2730.
B385005 27 ton unfitted, built 1955 at Shildon to diagram 1/183. Lot No. 2730.B385601 27 ton unfitted, built 1957 at Derby to diagram 1/183. Lot No. 2844.B385997 26 ton fitted, built 1958 at Derby to diagram 1/184. Lot No. 3091.B387643 27 ton unfitted, built 1960 at Derby to diagram 1/183. Lot No. 3324.B388815 26 ton fitted, built 1960 at Derby to diagram 1/185. Lot No. 3363.BSCO25197 27 ton unfitted, built 1962 for Stewart & Lloyds Ltd to BR design.
Maintaining the permanent way requires a range of vehicles.
B385005 32 ton bolster MBW1.Mines Platelayer No.2.Platelayers Compressor Truck.Stewart & Lloyds tool van. Ex Corby quarries.Stanton No.818. 6-plank mineral wagon.Caledonian Railway 10 ton van.
K1 – 1919 Ministry of Munitions Iron Ore Hopper wagon (later converted into a tool van and awaiting restoration into original configuration).K2 – 1919 Ministry of Munitions Iron Ore Hopper Wagon (later converted into a tool van and awaiting restoration into original configuration).
The Museum has assembled a number of wooden wagons representing those used in the ironstone quarries from around 1920 to the 1930’s.
6-plank side door mineral wagon.
Vehicles not in service.
GW 6-wheel milk tanker chassis.
BR 12 ton van.
2 x “Spark” wagons – held pending rebuilding. The Museum has two gunpowder wagons which were painted in Necropolis livery for film work by a previous owner.LMS brake composite No. 6678 built in the 1920’s. Post 1933 it was renumbered as 18017 and is of the wooden panelled, high waisted type.