Gauge: 3ft 9in (1.14m) and 2ft 8½ in (825mm)
The Dorset clay pits and mines have been worked for 2000 years. In the forefront were Pike Brothers of Wareham, and B. Fayle and Company of Corfe Castle, both of which worked clay mines in the Purbeck area of Dorset, individually and as one company, from 1760 until 1968. (Then they formed part of the English China Clays Group which was bought by Imerys in 1999). Tramways were built to move ball-clay on various sites. They were horse operated until the 1860s when steam locomotives were introduced but horses continued to be used until the mid 1930s alongside the newer motive power.
Fayle’s operated a plateway from 1806, which ran from Norden pits, near Corfe Castle, to Poole Harbour. In 1854 a second line was opened, to 3ft 9in gauge, between Newton and Goathorn. This was horse drawn initially until a locomotive called “Corfe” (nicknamed “Tiny”) joined the railway in the 1870’s. The line was extended to exchange sidings on the Swanage branch of the LSWR in 1907. In 1937 the northern part of the line, to Goathorn, was disused and in 1948 the rest of the line was relaid to 1ft 11½ in gauge. In 1949 Fayle’s amalgamated with Pike’s, and the new company began to invest in road transport. Nevertheless the line lingered on until it closed in 1970.
A major tramway, known as the Furzebrook Tramway, built by Pike Bros, opened in 1860 and connected clay pits around Creech with weathering beds, the Furzebrook processing works and storage depot at Ridge Wharf. Transhipment to standard gauge wagons could be carried out at Furzebrook from the early 1900s. This tramway replaced an earlier horse only system (c.1840). Pike’s had been working the area since the 1790s. Both tramways were gravity operated from Furzebrook to Ridge with either horses or locomotives collecting the empties. The mines had a system of tramways to 1ft 10in gauge.
The Furzebrook Tramway had a gauge of 2ft 8½ in, and steam locomotives were used for hauling from 1866. Eventually there were seven of them, all given names based on Latin numerals. One locomotive, the second to arrive and accordingly named Secundus, still survives. An 0-6-0 well tank loco, with a marine-type boiler and outside Stephenson’s valve gear, it was built by Bellis and Seekings Ltd of Birmingham in 1874 and served on the Furzebrook Tramway until 1955. By this time road transport had removed the need for the tramway and it was finally closed in 1957.
1 Tiny Stephen Lewin (Poole) of 1868; 0-4-0 tank. Scrapped 1948
2 Thames Manning, Wardle & Co. of 1902; 0-4-0 saddle tank. Scrapped 1948
Russell Hunslet Engine Co. of 1906; 0-6-2 tank. Purchased 1948. Ex Welsh Highland Railway and Hook
Norton Ironstone. Survives
2no. diesels by Orenstein & Koppel, purchased second hand. One of these, no. 20777, survives in private ownership. The other has been converted to a steam locomotive named “Emmett”!
2no. diesels by Ruston, purchased second hand. One, no. 392117, survives at the Old Kiln Light Railway in Surrey.
Simplex petrol tractor by Motor Rail, purchased second hand.
Lister diesel, purchased second hand.
Primus Bellis & Seekings of 1866; 0-4-2 (?) well tank. Scrapped c.1895. No record kept.
Secundus Bellis & Seekings of 1874; 0-6-0 well tank. Marine-type boiler. Survives
Tertius Manning, Wardle & Co No.999 of 1886; 0-6-0 saddle tank. Scrapped 1956
Quartius Fowler & Co. of 1889; 0-4-2 well tank (?). Scrapped 1934. No record kept.
Quintus Manning, Wardle & Co No.1854 of 1914; 0-4-0 saddle tank. Scrapped 1956
Sextus Peckett & Sons No. 1692 of 1925; 0-4-2 saddle tank. Scrapped 1956
Septimus Peckett & Sons No. 1808 of 1930; 0-4-2 saddle tank. Scrapped 1962
Simplex diesel, purchased second hand in 1951.