Battlefield Line Railway

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Battlefield Line Railway


3803 Shackerstone Station 2011.jpg
GWR 3803 Entering Shackerstone Station
Gauge: standard (4 ft 8½")
Location: 52°36’0"N, 1°24’54"W
Track: 5 miles
Headquarters: Shackerstone
Operated by: Shackerstone Railway Society

The Battlefield Line Railway is a standard-gauge heritage railway in Leicestershire. It runs on a five-mile track from Shackerstone to Shenton, via Market Bosworth. Shenton is near Bosworth Field, (the location of Henry VII's conclusive victory of the Wars of the Roses immortalised in Shakespeare's Richard III), and this gives the railway its name.


Shackerstone station

The railway runs steam and diesel-hauled trains every weekend from March to December, as well as a summer mid-week service on Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursdays in July and August and Wednesdays in September; the latter is operated by their Heartlander diesel railcar service. They also operate special events: the Christmas Santa Specials (which operate on all weekends throughout December)and others throughout the year.


The railway used to be part of the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway, who operated the line jointly between Moira West Junction and Nuneaton. The first trains ran along this section in 1873. At Shackerstone station, there was once a junction where one section branched off towards Moira and Ashby and the other went towards Coalville Junction. In 1883, the Charnwood Forest Railway was opened, which extended the branch from Coalville Junction to Loughborough's Derby Road station, passing through the villages of Whitwick and Shepshed. In the 1923 Grouping, these lines were assigned to the London Midland and Scottish Railway. In 1931 the last scheduled passenger train went down the Charnwood Forest branch, with the line then only being open to freight and excursions until the 1960s. The Coalville Junction – Shackerstone section was dismantled and closed completely in 1964. The Ashby – Nuneaton line had its last passenger service in 1965, which was an enthusiasts' special, before British Rail pulled the rails up in 1970.

In its heyday, Shackerstone was a busy station, with steam trains doing the workings between Ashby and Nuneaton, whilst a railcar did the service between Shackerstone and Loughborough Derby Road.

The line was originally double track but was later singled. Confusingly, part of the line was called the Bluebell Line (the Charnwood Forest Line, Hugglescote to Loughborough Derby Road station; this line was only accessible via the ANJR).

The royal train now in the National Railway Museum went to Shackerstone on its first outing in December 1902. It conveyed King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria on their way to Gopsall Hall.

Renovation project

The Shackerstone Railway Society was set up in 1969 at Market Bosworth, but soon moved to Shackerstone in 1970, as they needed a proper home for their first steam engine. When they got to Shackerstone they found one through line still intact, and their first aim was to build some sidings. Later they reinstated the "down" platform and connected the sidings to the line to Market Bosworth.

In 1973, to celebrate the centenary of the line, a small train of open wagons was hauled to Market Bosworth. Following the successful conclusions of the negotiations with British Rail, 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.

In the 1980s, the Battlefield Line launched a campaign to extend their line to Shenton. This involved buying a mile and a half of track and in 1992 after a successful campaign, the inaugural service arrived, hauled by the appropriately named 0-6-0 tank engine "Richard III."


Leaving the platforms at Shackerstone, the first sight to be seen from the train is the old goods yard. This is situated on the right-hand side of the running lines. This first section of the journey is located on a climbing gradient which continues until the train is clear of the station limits. Near the goods yard, passengers can see the Station House (now a private residence). Approaching the signal box, the train passes the steam locomotive and carriage shed. The signal box, situated on the left of the train, is passed shortly, and once the driver has received the single line token, the train may proceed into the section. The signal box is the oldest Midland Railway Co. type one box still in operational use. Once past the shed the steam locomotive yard is in view, with the inspection pit and preparation area. Continuing further up the gradient, the train shortly passes the railway's DMU siding on which are usually stored the 2-car 'hybrid' set and the Bubblecar.

The train then passes under the first bridge which carries the road to Barton-in-the-Beans, and then passes into open farmland and countryside. Here, the track changes from the left-hand side of the trackbed, to the right-hand side. The railway curves to the left here on a long sweeping curve which takes the train under James Farm Bridge and on towards Hedley's Farm Crossing. It then crosses a separate foot-crossing, at each of which locomotives must give a warning whistle.

After the crossings, the track straightens for a while. On the left can be seen the Italianate style church tower of Carlton and shortly after this the Market Bosworth golf course can be sighted.

Market Bosworth and beyond

A local private airstrip can be seen on the left. The approach to Market Bosworth, three miles from Shackerstone, is on a sweeping right-hand curve. To the right of the train can be seen new housing developments whilst the left-hand side has countryside scenery. Market Bosworth station is soon approached and trains pass under the Station Bridge which carries the main road into Market Bosworth over the line. The train then stops in the platform for passengers to board or alight.

To the left-hand side of the train here there are usually stored locomotives or wagons. To the right can be seen the old buildings and signal box which used to control part of the operation of the station.

Once clear of Market Bosworth station, the train accelerates again towards Far Coton road bridge and then passes into a left-hand curve in a cutting. Out of the cutting, the train continues on a long, straight section of track on top of an embankment. To the right hand side can be seen Aqueduct Cottage and the actual Ashby Canal aqueduct beyond it. Trains slow as they cross the bridge which carries over the road between Shenton Village and Sutton Cheney. As the line curves to the right slightly, the train approaches Shenton Station, just over 4½ miles from Shackerstone.

The trains slow to enter the platform and the station pottery and car park can be seen to the right. The pottery is the only surviving part of the original station. The current station is the reconstructed Humberstone Road station from Leicester. To the left, the "Flag of the Boar" can be seen flying. Shenton station is a convenient starting point for walks in the Battlefield Country Park.

At the end of the line is a headshunt underneath an old cattle bridge. The small bridge was previously used to allow safe passage of farm traffic over the route of the old Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Railway.

Steam locomotives


Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Owner(s) Date Photograph
No. 3803 GWR 2884 Class
On hire for the year from the South Devon Railway. This locomotive currently operates most of the steam services on the railway. GWR Green. South Devon Railway. 1939 3803 South Devon Railway (2).jpg
Sir Gomer Peckett and Sons class OX1 0-6-0ST Designed as a powerful industrial, "Sir Gomer", according to findings, is capable of moving a 928-ton train at slow speed on level ground. Blue. Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1932 Sir Gomer at Departs Shackerstone.jpg

Undergoing overhaul, restoration or repairs

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Owner(s) Date Photograph
No. 3
Richard III
Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns
This locomotive is currently stored awaiting overhaul. Light Blue. Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1949 BattlefieldLine3.JPG
No. 7 Peckett and Sons 0-4-0ST Having not steamed since the early days of the railway, this locomotive has been stored in the North End Yard in recent years. However, in April 2012 she was dragged from her resting place of 30 years to the locomotive works yard. During late July 2012 the restoration began. N/A. Private Owner. 1951 ~
No. 5011 Joseph booth crane Used as a yard crane for its builders until entering preservation at the Keighley and Worth Valley. later sold to a private individual and stored, this 7.5-ton crane was rescued from a farmyard near Gatwick during 2014. In July 2014 the restoration began. N/A. Private Owner. 1941 ~

Diesel shunters

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Date Photograph
No. 2 Nancy Ruston Hornsby 0-4-0 Stored (Privately owned) Dark Blue Ruston Hornsby 0-4-0 No2 Nancy.JPG
No. D2867 Diane Class 02 Operational-Under Restoration while still used regularly used as shed shunter for steam locomotive department (Privately owned) Green 17/11/1961 Class 02 D2867 at Shackerstone.JPG
No. 11215 Class 04 Now at the Derwent Valley Railway BR Green. 12/11/1956
No. 04110 (D2310) Class 04 Operational (Railway owned) BR Blue 22/12/1960 04110 - Battlefield Line (9638774298).jpg
No. 08528 Class 08 Now at Great Central Railway BR Green 1959
Hercules Ruston 0-4-0 Stored (Railway owned) Yellow and Pink
No. 13236 Class 08 Now at Nemesis Rail Burton upon Trent BR Black 07/02/1956 13236horsted.jpg
No. 12083 Class 11 Under restoration (Privately owned) BR Blue 30/11/1950
Big Momma Barclay Shunter 0-6-0 Stored out of use at Market Bosworth station (Privately owned) Light Green
No 422 Hot Wheels Andrew Barclay Stored out of use at Market Bosworth station (Privately owned) Blue

Ex. mainline heritage diesels

Number & Name Description History & Current Status Livery Owner(s) Date Photograph
No. 73114 British Rail Class 73
Under Repair BR Rail Blue. Private Owner. 1966
73114 - Battlefield Line (9638670380).jpg
No. 47640
University of Strathclyde
British Rail Class 47
Operational BR Large Logo Blue. Private Owner. 1966 47640 University of Strathclyde.JPG
No. 33019
British Rail Class 33
Operational Grey & Yellow Private Owner. 1960 BattlefieldLine33019.JPG
No. D6508
British Rail Class 33
Under Overhaul BR Green. Private Owner. 1960 NSE East Grinstead - Oxted electrification gala (1987) 10.JPG
No. D6593 British Rail Class 33
Visiting For Repair From The Watercress Line BR Green. Watercress Line. 1960 Rail Tour departure! - - 684050.jpg
No. 33053 British Rail Class 33
Under Repair from Watercress Line BR Rail Blue. Private Owner. 1961 33053 - Battlefield Line (9635552463).jpg
No. D5217 British Rail Class 25
Under Repair at Nemesis Burton BR Green. Private Owner. 1963 ~

Diesel multiple units

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Photograph
DMBS No M55005. Class 122 Operational, used on passenger trains regularly (Privately owned). Built in 1958. BR Blue & Grey Shackerstone DMU.jpg
DMS No 51321 Class 118 Operational, used with 55005 on passenger trains when a second coach is required at busier times (Privately owned). Built in 1960. BR Blue & Grey Battlefield Line Railway.jpg
DMBS No 51131 Class 116 Under Overhaul, undergoing mechanical and bodywork repairs (Privately owned). Built in 1958. BR Blue & Grey Set T326 (51131 and 51321) at Arley.JPG

Coach stock

British Railways Mark 1 coaches

The original A&NJR closed long before the formation of British Railways, but as very few suitable period carriages were preserved, BR Mark 1 coaches form part of all Battlefield Line passenger trains today. They are a renowned design of standardised rail stock, being both durable and high-capacity vehicles.

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Owner(s) Date Photograph
No. E1104 Mark 1 RE Converted into a Griddle buffet from RF No. 301 while working for BR, and was later preserved. Under overhaul. BR Lined Maroon Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1952 BattlefieldLineE1104.JPG
No. W34935 Mark 1 BSK Operational and one of the handful of Battlefield Line coaches with two separate liveries. BR Blood & Custard (West side).
BR Chocolate & Cream (East side).
Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1956 BattlefieldLineW34935.JPG
No. M81428 Mark 1 BG Operational. BR Lined Maroon Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1957 ~
No. M25729 Mark 1 SK Operational and one of the handful of Battlefield Line coaches with two separate liveries. BR Blood & Custard (West side).
BR Chocolate & Cream (East side).
Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1961 BattlefieldLineM25729.JPG
No. M4918 Mark 1 TSO Operational. BR Lined Maroon Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1962 BattlefieldLineM4918.JPG
No. 4939 Mark 1 TSO Operational. BR Lined Maroon Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1962 ~
No. M4989 Mark 1 TSO Operational. BR Blood & Custard Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1962 BattlefieldLineM4989.JPG ~
No. 34953 Mark 1 BSK Awaiting a major overhaul. Maroon Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1956 ~
No. ADB975459 Mark 1 BSK Originally numbered 34136 until conversion into a departmental coach. Docked in the Shackerstone bay siding as volunteer accommodation. BR Lined Maroon Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1952 BattlefieldLineADB975459.JPG
No. 1816 Mark 1 RMB In use as mess room at Shackerstone. N/A. Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1959 BattlefieldLine1816.JPG
No. ADB977450 Mark 1 FO Numbered 3087 until becoming part of the original Crewe Test Train. In storage at Shackerstone until restoration can begin. N/A. Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1959 ~
No. ADB977084 Mark 1 RKB Numbered 1505 until becoming part of the original Crewe Test Train. In storage awaiting overhaul. N/A. Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1958 ~
No. 81470 Mark 1 BG At present in use as a parts store. InterCity Shackerstone Railway Society Ltd. 1958 ~
No. W93701 Mark 1 GUV Presently at the end of the Shackerstone north siding complex as a storage vehicle. BR Rail Blue Private owner. 1959 ~
No. 94142 Mark 1 CCT Awaiting overhaul in the Shackerstone south siding. Maroon Private owner. 1960 ~

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Battlefield Line Railway)