HOW IT ALL BEGAN...
In the summer of 1969 a small group of railway enthusiasts
got together to try and preserve a Jubilee Class engine 'Leander' which was in Woodham's
yard at Barry in Wales. For various reasons this scheme did not get off the ground, but it
formed the basis for a railway preservation Society in the East Midlands.
In the Autumn of 1969 the Society was searching, somewhat
despairingly, for a home. The search became even more urgent when our first engine
"The King", was acquired, a 0-4-0 well tank built in 1906. A temporary home was
found in Market Bosworth on the old Ashby to Nuneaton Line. When the Society first moved
to Shackerstone in early 1970, the Station building was a very sorry sight indeed. There
was only one pane of glass still intact, the lead had been ripped from the roof and the
rain ran down the walls in the Porters Room.
Since British Rail had lifted all track except the one through
line, the Society's first priority was to lay a siding on the old goods yard site from the
loading dock to the station. It was here that the first 'Open Days' were held. After B.R.
had lifted the mainline north of the station we were able to connect our sidings to the
Market Bosworth line by reinstating the 'Down' platform road and installing a turnout. It
was about this time we received our first locomotives and wagons.
negotiations were opened which resulted in our being able to purchase the railway intact
between Shackerstone and Market Bosworth. Unfortunately we were not able to raise
sufficient funds to purchase the rail on the Market Bosworth to Shenton section, but we
did secure the track bed. While negotiations were in progress British Rail were kind
enough to allow us to celebrate the centenary of the A&NJR by running a train of open
wagons to Market Bosworth. Following the successful conclusions of the negotiations with
B.R. a start was made on track rearrangements which created run-round loops at both ends
of the line and a number of sidings at Shackerstone. All this hard work and dedication
resulted in us getting our Light Railway Order and the associated operating certificate
from Major Rose of the Railway Inspectorate, although we had been allowed to run trains
under B.R. supervision for some time prior to this.
After a period of
consolidation we felt able to launch an appeal to raise money for the reinstatement of the
track to Shenton, which would link the Railway to Leicestershire County Council's Battle
of Bosworth site. Many of our previous visitors may remember donating £1 to buy the 1.5
miles of rail and many tons of ballast needed to reach the Battlefield. It was without
doubt one of the Society's proudest moments as the first train pulled in Shenton Station
in August 1992. A large crowd watched the inaugural service, packed with civic
dignitaries, arrive hauled by the appropriately named 0-6-0 tank engine "Richard
As you walk around
the site you may wonder how the Society has amassed such a large amount of rolling stock.
The truth is that the majority of the engines, carriages, wagons and other vehicles that
are on the site are privately owned by members. If you were to ask any working member
around the site there is a very high chance that person will in some way own part of what
is on display around the station, rolling stock or otherwise.
The Society is a
voluntary organisation. Although the whole of the Railway is run by enthusiasts we are
expected to operate to the same safety standards as the country's main rail network, the
idea that we play at running trains is very far from the truth! Never the less we are all
involved because it is fun and we enjoy it!
So if the railway bug is starting to get under your skin,
why not ask the members about the jobs they are involved with on The Battlefield Line.
There are many varied jobs that you can get involved with. Opportunities are open in all
areas from station porters to maintenance. Bar staff to heavy engineering, shop assistant
to diesel fitter...
...and of course
Members, especially working
members, are the life blood of organisations such as ours, so if you are interested please
come and join us, you will find a very warm welcome.
Joining the Shackerstone Railway Society will give you the
opportunity to make new friends who share a common interest. You will be able to use your
skills to help preserve part of our industrial heritage and improve on the present by
making the Railway develop and expand. You could choose to learn new skills and enjoy the
challenge of performing tasks you thought you may never be able to do!