SK9119 : Course of short-lived ironstone railway near South Witham

taken 7 years ago, near to Thistleton, Rutland, Great Britain

Course of short-lived ironstone railway near South Witham
Course of short-lived ironstone railway near South Witham
The straight line of hedge across these fields, on the other side of the infant River Witham, marks the course of a branch off the main Buckminster Quarries railway line which served Thistleton Mines. Although the main ironstone railway carried ore for more than 75 years, this short branch was operational only from 1957-64. Its course, and the junction at SK903194, show clearly on Google Earth and the 1:25,000 map. The woodland in the distance, on the other side of Moor Lane, is Gunby Gorse.

Considerable reserves of ironstone usually extracted by opencast quarrying in the East Midlands lay below the 60ft bed of Lincolnshire limestone, and it was decided to mine it. The Thistleton Mines complex now the Mill Lane Industrial Estate was built from 1955-7. A 22ft-diameter steel-arch/concrete-segment tunnel was driven 500 yards southwards under Mill Lane on a 1 in 40 gradient. The mines were served by a modern double-track narrow-gauge railway operated by one electric and two diesel locomotives, which hauled trains of twelve-ton wagons known as minecars. The mines stretched a mile and a half south and half a mile west. Many of the miners were Scottish coal miners, who lived in houses built for them in South Witham. Production peaked at 390,000 tons a year (and not the million envisaged), but geological difficulties and seepage led to closure on 27 June 1964. The belief that in the second half of the twentieth century it would be necessary to mine ironstone proved misguided: economics prevailed with the introduction of big dragline excavators, opencast was cheaper. The comparable Easton Mines, near Colsterworth, were equally short-lived, closing in 1967.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright John Sutton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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SK9119, 18 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Thursday, 17 June, 2010   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 22 June, 2010
Category
Railways > Railway (former)   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 910 192 [100m precision]
WGS84: 52:45.8132N 0:39.1518W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 914 190
View Direction
West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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