The original railway was constructed from Furzebrook to a wharf on the river Frome at Ridge around 1840 by the Pike Bros. The Tramway was initially operated by gravity and the empties brought back by horses.
The line was built to a gauge of 2'-8" and from 1866 seven locomotives were employed at various times during the railway's life; the line being finally abandoned by 1957.
Tramway wagons were at one stage
allowed to run unattended across the main road and the heath down the one in 30 gradient. As they
approached Ridge a pair of catch points at Nutcrack Lane triggered a
sledge-brake in one of the wagons. There was an occasion when the brakeman had
not reset the points and the train careered on to run off the end of the pier
and straight through the bottom of a waiting barge.
'Secundus' is an 0-6-0
well tank with a marine-type firebox and outside Stephenson (Howe) valve gear.
It weighs 12 tons. The builders seems to have influenced by the term 'tramway' (which was used
only in its industrial sense of being a light railway), and the engine was
delivered complete with the motion and wheels enclosed by a fixed skirting and
cow-catchers front and back, which stayed on the engine throughout its life at
'Secundus' was rebuilt
by the local engineering company of Stephen Lewin at Poole in 1880, and was
given a new boiler from Peckett & Son at Bristol in 1933. At some time a
home-made cab was fitted, adding to its eccentric appearance. It seems to have
been very successful as it continued in use until 1955, despite the purchase of
other locomotives to standard designs from other manufacturers.
Secundas was sold for scrap to Abelson
& Co Ltd in Birmingham. The Birmingham Locomotive Club persuaded them to
present 'Secundus' to Birmingham City Museum as the only Birmingham built
locomotive left in existence, and it was placed on display there in July 1955.
At this point the cab was removed, and some of the sheeting was taken off to
display the unusual valve gear.
In 2000 the Museum was reorganised and the narrow gauge railway display
was not included in the new design. In May 2002 Purbeck Mineral & Mining
Museum Group began negotiations with Birmingham Museum to return 'Secundus' to
Dorset and in February 2003 it was agreed
by the Science & Industry Advisory Board that this could occur in principle
under a long-term trust agreement subject to suitable accommodation being
available to display her. The proposed Mining Museum building is considered
suitable. The Birmingham Museum board of Trustees made their final decision late
in 2003 and Secundus returned to Dorset on the 22nd of January 2004.
Secundus in Corfe Goods Shed Museum © J. Rowley
The Other Locomotives
Tertius: a 0-6-0ST by Manning Wardle built in 1886 (No.999).The engine had cyliners 71/2 ins x 12 ins, coupled wheels 2ft 4ins dia., the middle pair being flange-less, a wheelbase 7ft 8 ins., weight 121/2 tonsand a working pressure 140lbs. It was rebuilt by Manning Wardle in 1911. In 1951 the boiler from the Fayles Tramway engine Tiny was fitted to giving a strange look with boiler perched high on the frames as the firebox was too big to pass within the frames.
Quartus: a Fowler, Lech & Co. 0-4-2WT purchased in 1889. After being laid by at Ridge for some years was scrapped in 1934 but the boiler was retained for use at the mines for stationary work.
Quintus: a 0-4-ST by Manning Wardle built in 1914 (no.1854). It was rebuilt in 1934 by Peckett & Co. Quintus had cylinders 8ins. x 12ins., 2ft. coupled wheels. a wheelbase of 4ft., pressure 160lbs., and a weight of 15tons. It worked until 1956 but was kept in case of diesel failure until 1958 when it was scrapped. The name plate of Quintus is preserved in the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
Sextus: a Peckett 0-4-2ST of 1925 (No.1692). Cylinders were 9ins. x 15ins., with coupled wheels 2ft 4 ins. diameter, and a wheelbase of 9ft 8ins., 170lb. pressure and a weight of 21 tons. Stephenson link motion was fitted and originally enclosed in a sheet steel casing. It worked until 1956 and was then scrapped
Septimus: a Peckett 0-4-2ST of 1930 (No.1808) This engine was purchased by the North Somerset Light Railway in 1955 for a new railway on the trackbed of the Weston, Clivedon and Portishead light railway. The railway was never built. Septimus went to Peckett's works at Bristol in 1956 for an overhaul and the fitting of vacuum brakes. It was scrapped in 1962.
In October 1951, a 20/35hp 4wPM Motorail diesel Wks No.5242 was bought second-hand from G. W. Bungey Ltd. This 1930 diesel had seen previous service with Folkestone Gravel Company.
In 1911 on the 8th May the English Ceramic Society paid a visit to Pikes Brothers Dorset Clay Works. Below is a photo of the guests being treated to a ride in the clay waggons. Tertius with its original boiler and an added cab is pulling the wagons.
THE FURZEBROOK RAILWAY - Wagon No.28
In 1940 there were about
150 four-wheeled clay wagons each about 3 tons capacity, which had been made
in the Furzebrook workshops. The bodies were of English elm and the
under-frames of Oak. No.28 is the sole surviving wagon in complete condition and
was constructed to a unique sledge-braked design. It was built locally in about 1865 for use with the gravity worked trains that ran from the Furzebrook
weathering beds to the wharf at Ridge. This was the original part of the
railway and was constructed in a dead straight line with a constant falling
gradient favouring the loaded trains.
No.28 is a 4-wheeled
wagon with wooden frames and sides. In common with the other wagons it has
sprung buffers at one end only, with dumb buffers at the other end. The
springing for the buffers is highly unusual, consisting of a transverse
laminated spring placed on its side behind the buffer beam.
Wagon No.28 outside Corfe Goods Shed Museum © J. Rowley
The two ends of the
spring are fixed to the buffer shanks, while at the centre it passes through a
hole in the coupling shank. The wagon has an end-door at the buffer less end
which was opened to allow the clay to be removed. The braking mechanism
consists of two metal-faced sledges mounted between the wheels which acted
downwards on to the rail surface. The sledges are worked by a long lever
mounted on the side of the wagon.
No.28 was one of the
last wagons to survive at Furzebrook and, at the request of the Narrow Gauge
Railway Society, the scrap dealers dismantling the line released it for display
at the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Tywyn, North Wales in July 1957.
Photographs of its arrival there suggest that it was renovated at Furzebrook
In December 2001 Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museum Group approached Tywyn Museum. Discussions on the future of the wagon followed, resulting in the setting up of a long-term trust agreement on behalf of the Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museum. The wagon was returned to Dorset by Tywyn Museum in April 2002 and is currently on display at the Museum Entrance
After the Second World Ware end tipping waggons were used in the truncated system when Ridge was no longer accessible from Furzebrook and lorries were used as well as the trains.
is seen here at Furzebrook in 1955 with clayworkers cottages in the background
A video of the steam locomotives in the early 1950s on the Furzebrook Ball Clay railway system is John Snell's "Railways Recalled". It shows about 10 minutes of wonderful filming of the Purbeck Narrow gauge railways. It also includes the Isle of Man railways; Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch; Welshpool and Llanfair; the Llangollen line; the Cambrian Coast route; Llandudno trams; the Somerset and Dorset; the Cromford and High Peak; Northern France in steam days; plus a variety of other locations around Britain, including London.