‘Lord Granby’ at Eastwell

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Eastwell is a small farming village in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir in Leicestershire.  Situated between Melton Mowbray and Grantham it is five miles from Belvoir Castle the seat of the Duke of Rutland.  Sixty years ago Eastwell was at the heart of the industrial processes for recovery of ironstone.  Most of the fields in the area were scalped of their topsoil and had the ironstone removed either by very hard working men or by the use of large machinery.  To this day the surface of many fields in the area is several feet below the level of the adjoining roads, indicating how much extraction took place.

Ironstone quarrying commenced at Eastwell in May 1881. This was made possible by the opening of the Great Northern Railway and London & North Western Railway joint line between Bottesford Junction and Melton Mowbray in 1879 which provided a transportation route for ore to various iron producers.  A narrow gauge incline linked the quarries at the top of the escarpment with the standard gauge line in the Vale of Belvoir below.

The first two steam locomotives at Eastwell were delivered in the mid-1880s; each vertical cylinder, gear driven types built by Staveley Coal & Iron Company (one of the partners in the Eastwell venture).  By 1902, the quarry system and narrow gauge railway had expanded south-east from the incline as far as the village of Goadby Marwood.  Lord Granby was delivered new from Hudswell Clarke & Co. Ltd. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudswell_Clarke in Leeds, in November 1902 and named in respect to the heir to the Duke of Rutland.  Its role was to haul ore from the now distant quarries. The locomotive must have been a success, as the company ordered a second similar loco named ‘The Scot’ in 1906.  The pair provided the mainstay of motive power until the system was extended into new ore fields south of Eaton village in 1911.

Over the years a succession of second hand and new locomotives came to Eastwell.  These became increasingly large to cope with the longer haul as the quarries became further from the incline, finally reaching Branston village over three miles away.  ‘Lord Granby’ remained at Eastwell until the closure of the narrow gauge railway system in 1959.  In 1961, the loco was transported to Leeds Museum for preservation.  It is one of the few narrow gauge engines preserved from the East Midland ironstone quarrying industry, and arrived in poor condition.

On 22nd July 2013, and with a good deal of technical and moral support from ‘The Living Ironstone Museum’ in Rutland www.rocks-by-rail.org, Lord Granby left Leeds and was repatriated to Eastwell by the Eastwell History Group for restoration as a static exhibit, providing a focus for the story of Eastwell’s ironstone quarrying in a new Heritage facility to be developed over the coming years.  The group welcomes any funds, technical support and manpower available to make this venture a success.

Since its arrival in Eastwell ‘Lord Granby’ has been exhibited in 2013 at the ‘Eastwell Fete’ in the village centre, at an ‘open day’ at Crossroads Farm in the village and at the Harby Vintage Machinery Show.  Harby is the neighbouring village to Eastwell.  Lord Granby has now been transferred to a purpose-built workshop and is currently being dismantled for detailed inspection, refurbishment of parts and subsequent re-assembly.

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You can see more information on progress in this respect in the Newsletter shown on the ‘News’ page.



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