Lincolnshire Wolds Railway

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Lincolnshire Wolds Railway


Fulstow no. 2, Lincs Wolds Rly.jpg
Fulstow no. 2 at Ludborough
Gauge: standard (4 ft 8½")

The Lincolnshire Wolds Railway is a heritage railway based at Ludborough station, near Grimsby in Lincolnshire; it is the only standard gauge steam railway in Lincolnshire open to the public.[1] The line is part of the original Great Northern Railway (GNR), a rail system that opened in 1848 and once linked Grimsby, Louth and East Lincolnshire with London.[1] In early 2002, 2009 and 2013 the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway received a top national award from the Heritage Railway Association for its heritage railway efforts.[2]


The railway began being built in 1846 and was completed in 1848. The line ran from Louth to New Holland and was officially opened on 28 March 1848 and was the first section of the GNR. The line was constructed by the East Lincolnshire Railway co (ELR) who then leased it to the GNR when they couldn't raise enough money to operate it. The GNR had obtained running rights over the MS&L from Grimsby to New Holland Pier and in return allowed the MS&L running rights to Louth. The line south of Louth was extended as far as Boston in October 1848. The GNR ran the line with some of its famous C12 loco's on the local services. For short period of time Stirling single no.1 (preserved at the NRM York) was based a Louth shed (40c) from 1912–1913.

In 1923 the GNR was absorbed by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and with it the East Lincolnshire Railway. The LNER carried out a variety of improvements on the line. Namely the replacement of the GNR Somersult signals with the more common upper quadrant at some locations on the line. Box name boards were also changed from the black background with white lettering to the usual (and later BR specifications) White background with black lettering. Although Louth South obtained an enamel sign which remained on the box until its closure on 5 October 1970.

In 1948, three years after the end of Second World War, the railways were nationalised under the Transport Act 1947 and gave the assets to British Railways so that the railway would remain open. At that time, the line's passenger services were operated by steam railcar, but these later were replaced by diesel multiple units.

BR ran the line from 1948 until the lines eventual closure. BR had announced as early as 1965 that the line would be closing under the Beeching plan. However the first attempt failed after major local opposition and the minister of transport's refusal to close a major route. BR was successful in 1969 to obtain permission to close the line from the transport minister despite again a massive local opposition. The line from Firsby JN to Grimsby was closed after the last passenger train departed on 5 October 1970. The line from Firsby JN to Louth was quickly lifted and the infrastructure left to suffer the hands of time. The section from Louth to Grimsby was singled (the down line lifted) and was retained for a further 10 years for grain traffic three times a week to the ABM building at Louth. In 1978 BR announced that grain traffic would cease and that the line would then be removed and abandoned.

In 1978, a group known as the Grimsby-Louth Group was set up to fight the closure of the line. When the end became inevitable, the group was renamed the Grimsby-Louth Railway Preservation Society, with the aim of preserving the line for continued use. Despite their efforts, British Rail announced that the line would completely close on 20 December 1980. The Grimsby-Louth rail group did however manage to run several santa specials over the line. The last one ran on 20 December 1980.[3] BR then closed the line and quickly removed the rails, sleepers and Ballast and thus making it harder for the preservationists to restore the line.


In 1984 preservation efforts started rebuilding Ludborough Station to its former glory. The site had been virtually flattened by British Rail. All the buildings had been demolished, the railings and platform edges had been removed as well as the track and ballast; the removal of the latter also blocked the drains and caused the site to be flooded.

On 28 September 1991, a Light Railway Order was obtained which authorises the reinstatement of the East Lincolnshire Railway between Waltham and the former Keddington Road level crossing near Louth.[4]

On 30 August 2003, NER 0-4-0T LNER Class Y7 No. 68088 steamed on the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway.[5] The section towards North Thoresby railway station was reopened in 2009, and on 26 August 2009, the first train between North Thoresby and Ludborough ran for the first time in 47 years.[6][7]

Work has now begun on track re-laying at the south end of Ludborough station towards Utterby. Included in this work will be a new entrance to the engine shed coming in from the louth direction. The new point work will be controlled by a 4 lever ground frame which is released by Ludborough box and features in the new signalling system. The LWR launched an appeal in Summer 2012 to fund the purchase of track and ballast needed to extend the line.

Work has also commenced on a new carriage shed at Ludborough which, when finished, will enable maintenance and restoration work to be carried out under cover in controlled conditions.


Ludborough station has been restored to its original condition and is a working station museum, complete with an operational signal box. A 1 1/2 mile running line operates northwards to North Thoresby. Trains are operated by both steam and diesel locomotives. Two of the line's diesel locomotives, nos. D3167 and 97650 have strong local connections. The former was the resident shunter at Lincoln Central for many years, whilst the latter was built by Ruston & Hornsby at their Lincoln works.

Signalling on the LWR

The signalling used on the LWR is very basic but still forms a vital part of the operations. There are two signal boxes in use:

  • Ludborough: built on the foundations of the original box, it is a close replica of what once stood there. Commissioned in 2004 by HMRI the box was official opened in 2005. Contains an 18 lever Mckenzie and Holland lever frame which came from Hainton street Grimsby. It currently has 4 working levers and will hopefully in the near future have a few more working levers. Visitors are allowed in the box provided the signalman has given permission to do so.
  • North Thoresby: situated off the end of the platform. It has a 7 Lever eastern region ground frame in it and all the levers are in use. Its primary function is to control the siding and the main line in the platform.

Whilst North Thoresby has the conventional Upper quadrant signals, Ludborough has the more famous GNR somersault signals.

Future of the LWR

The initial aim of reopening the line from Louth to Grimsby is sadly no longer feasible in the short to medium term, as part of the section between Grimsby and New Waltham was designated for the building/construction of the A16 Peaks Parkway Road, which was completed in 1998.[8] These roadworks made any future extension to Grimsby impossible without major financial investment.[9]

However, the LWR hopes to eventually reconstruct the entire sole-surviving 8 miles of track bed between a new site at Louth and Holton-le-Clay.

Stations of the LWR

  • Holton Le Clay - Future Northern Terminus of the Line.
  • North Thoresby (reopened in 2009)
  • Ludborough (reopened in 1998)
  • Fotherby
  • Louth – Future Southern Terminus of the Line.


The current permanent stock of locomotives includes the following:[10]

Operational Steam Locomotives

  • Peckett 0-4-0ST works number 1749 'Fulstow no. 2'

Steam locomotives under Repair

  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST works number 1964 'Spitfire'. Dismantled for overhaul.
  • Peckett industrial 0-4-0ST works number 1351 'Lion'. [11] Awaiting a retube and general overhaul.
  • Statens Järnvägar B Class 4-6-0 No.1313 Longterm overhaul project 20yrs+

Operational Diesel locomotives

  • BR]] 0-6-0 Class 08]] no. D3167 (also 08102)[12]

Diesel locomotives under Repair

  • BR 0-6-0 Class 97/6 no. 97650[13]
  • Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0DM 375713, Tioxide no 4[14]
  • Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0DM 414303, Tioxide no 6[15]
  • Ruston & Hornsby 4wDM 421418, Tioxide no 7[16]
  • Fowler 0-4-0DM 4210131 ex Conoco[17]
  • Fowler 0-4-0DM 4210145 ex Conoco No 8[18]
  • Hunslet 4wDM 5308, Colonel B[19]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Lincolnshire Wolds Railway)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Armstrong, Ruth (17 September 2002). "Ride into nostalgia at Forties' weekend". Grimsby Evening Telegraph: p. 10. 
  2. "Full Steam Ahead For Extension". Scunthorpe Telegraph: p. 12. 15 January 2003. 
  3. Patricia Montgomery (1 October 2010). "Lincolnshire Wolds Railway 1940s Event (2010) – Patricia Montgomery". LincsMag. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  4. "The Grimsby and Louth Light Railway Order 1991 (S.I. 1991 No. 2210)". Office of Public Sector Information. 28 September 1991. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  5. "Liner Steams the Wolds.". The Railway Magazine (IPC Business Press) 149: 73. 
  6. "All Aboard the Steam Train". BBC News. 3 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  7. "Lincolnshire Wolds Railway". Ludborough Parish Council. 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  8. Ludlam 1991, p. 150.
  9. Stennett 2007, p. 39.
  10. "Locomotives & Rolling Stock at". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  11. Industrial Railway Society (2009). Industrial Locomotives (15EL). Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 978-1-901556-53-7. 
  12. "British Rail Class 08". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  13. "Preserved Shunters – CLASS 97/6 : 97650". Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  14. "Preserved Shunters – RUSTON & HORNSBY : 375713". Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  15. "> Shunter Details Page". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  16. "> Shunter Details Page". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  17. "> Shunter Details Page". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  18. "> Shunter Details Page". Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  19. "> Shunter Details Page". 15 March 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  • Clinker, C.R. (October 1978). Clinker's Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots in England, Scotland and Wales 1830–1977. Bristol: Avon-Anglia Publications & Services. ISBN 0-905466-19-5. 
  • Goode, C.T. (1985). The Railways of North Lincolnshire. Anlaby, Hull: C.T. Goode. ISBN 978-0-9508239-7-3. 
  • King, P.K.; Hewins, D.R. (1998) [1989]. The Railways around Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Immingham & North-East Lincolnshire. Romiley, Stockport: Foxline Publishing. ISBN 978-1-870119-04-7. 
  • Ludlam, A.J. (1991). The East Lincolnshire Railway (OL82). Headington, Oxford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-416-4. 
  • Philip Conolly, W. (2004) [1958]. British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer. Hersham, Surrey: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7110-0320-0. 
  • Stennett, Alan (2007). Lost Railways of Lincolnshire. Newbury, Berkshire: Countryside Books. ISBN 978-1-84674-040-4.