The Old Kiln Light Railway

at the
Rural Life Centre
Tilford, Surrey

The Old Kiln Light Railway in action

The two foot narrow gauge Old Kiln Light Railway has existed on this site since January 1982.

Previously the railway existed in a much smaller form around a disused pumping station in Farnham, and was then known as the Wey Valley Light Railway. This had originally been founded in the early 1970s using narrow gauge railway equipment from local industrial lines.

When the Wey Valley site was acquired for redevelopment in 1982 the railway was moved lock, stock and barrel to form the nucleus of the Old Kiln Light Railway and has now very much outgrown its humble beginnings.

The railway is wholly independent of the main museum. It is run, owned and funded by a small group of enthusiasts and is entirely self financing. Income comes from the individual members and from train fares and public donations.

The railway runs on Sundays throughout the summer and on occasional Saturdays and bank holidays.

There is currently approximately a quarter mile of running track together with associated sidings, workshops and sheds.

Track plan

Rolling stock consists of various forms of motive power including both steam and internal combustion locomotives. Restoration of both is undertaken on and off site, and there is always work going on in the busy workshops.

Passengers are catered for in replica examples of rolling stock used on Welsh narrow gauge lines. You could travel in the enclosed 'Glyn Valley Tramway' coach or brave the elements in the open 'Penrhyn Quarryman's' coach.

There are also numerous examples of narrow gauge wagons to be found around the works yard, some have been modified to perform a new function amongst the engineering equipment on the line.

There is continual change going on around the railway and regular visitors will be aware of the steady improvements that have occurred over the years.

In September 1994 the railway was awarded a conservation plaque by the Surrey Industrial History Group for its contribution to preserving local industrial equipment.

We are always pleased to welcome new visitors.

The Steam Engines

Elouise at Old Kiln HaltBuilt in 1922 by Orenstein and Koppel of Berlin. Works No. 9998. Supplied new to the Portuguese forestry commission via an O&K agent in Madrid, Spain. (Hence the works plates say Madrid even though she was built in Berlin.)

Little is known about her life in Portugal other than she ended up outside a cafe in Cascais as a tourist attraction.

In 1969/70 she was brought over to Britain where, after several changes of ownership, she ended up on the Old Kiln Light Railway in 1986. After some minor repair work she soon entered traffic, but was subsequently withdrawn with boiler problems.

Elouise has now had her boiler repaired and should now see service on certain Sundays (subject to availability).


Built in 1906 (Works No. 920) by the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds for the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales. When rail operations ceased in 1962 the locomotive was sold into preservation to a private railway in Leicestershire.

In 1984 she was sold and moved to her present location at Tilford. Subsequently she has been totally stripped down for a complete rebuild and is now slowly going back together as time and finances permit.

The Internal Combustion Engines

Motor Rails of Bedford

MR.5713 "Eagle" was built in 1936 and worked at various brick and pipe works in the Derbyshire area. This was one of the original locomotives at the old Kiln site and has served us well over the years despite its notorious difficulty in starting up!

MR.8981 supplied new to the Midhurst Whites Brick Company in 1946 and spent its working life at their Midhurst works. Originally two foot 6 inch gauge, the loco was purchased in 1986 from the company and has subsequently been regauged and completely rebuilt. It is now one of the main passenger locos at Tilford.

MR.6035 was another engine from the Midhurst works. Supplied new to the company in 1937, and purchased for preservation in 1986 along with MR.8981. This locomotive is powered by an Austin 12 petrol engine and is currently undergoing a total restoration to its original condition, including the much cut down cab and seat on the floor!

MR.5297 "Fido" built in 1931, is our other petrol engined Motor Rail, although this one is powered by a Dorman engine. This locomotive is of local interest as it worked at the Weydon Lane sand pits in Farnham.

MR.8887 "Phoebe" was built in 1944 for the War Department and is today in ex-military condition. This engine is long overdue for some minor workshop attention, but as she is regularly used on works, and occasionally on passenger, trains, there never seems to be time for the spruce up she deserves.

Ruston & Hornsby of Lincoln

RH.392117 built in 1956, this is the biggest internal combustion locomotive on the line. It was supplied new to a contractor for building the additional tunnels at Hadley Wood for British Railways when the East Coast main Line from Kings Cross was quadrupled.

The locomotive subsequently worked at the Norden clay mines near Corfe Castle in Dorset before passing into preservation at the "Hampshire Narrow Gauge Group".

In September of 1992 the loco was purchased for use on the Old Kiln Light Railway and has proved a very useful addition to the fleet, especially with its electric starting.

RH.181820 "Red Dwarf" built in 1936, this loco worked for most of its industrial life for the Severn Trent Water Authority, and was used in connection with the upkeep of the tidal defences on the Severn Estuary in the Gloucester area.

The locomotive was purchased in January 1994 from a private preservation site in Wales and has since been fitted with a replica cab built to an original Ruston design.

RH.177639 "Sandrock" This locomotive was delivered new, in 1936, to the County Borough of Derby to work in connection with the construction of a by-pass at Spondon. It was later moved to a sewage works nearby where it stayed until it was preserved in 1979.

She spent many years at various preservation sites in the Manchester are until 1994 when she was moved to her new home at Tilford.

F. Hibberd of Park Royal, London

FH.2528 "Neptune" was built in 1941 and delivered new to the War Department. It is believed to have worked for most of its life at the Ministry of Defence depot at Liphook, before being sold to Streeter's, a contractor's yard in Godalming.

The locomotive was once the mainstay of the Old Kiln fleet during our early years, but is currently out of traffic undergoing a complete engine rebuild.

Hunslet of Leeds

HE.1944 "Stinker" Built in 1939 this locomotive worked at a steel rolling mill in Enfield. More recently the loco was used on the various railways in connection with the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal. After almost ten years in store the loco was moved via a private site to Tilford. This locomotive is now the oldest working example of this type.

Wickham of Ware, Herts.

Works Nos. 3031 and 2981. Originally built in 1941 as unmanned powered target trolleys for military use. They have now been converted into two very different locomotives.

"Liz" is a locomotive of conventional lines powered by a Petter single cylinder petrol engine. Shee sees very little service on the line as it is somewhat underpowered for most trains. However she is used regularly ona portable railway at local fetes and shows.

"Sue" is a railbus type machine powered by a Reliant car engine and with four forward gears is capable of quite a turn of speed. She is occasionally used on quiet weekends and can carry up to four passengers for what can be an enlightening ride.

© 1998 Chris Shepheard
Page design by Chris Shepheard.