Abbey Light Railway
Dates of operation1974–2012
Track gauge2 ft (610 mm)
Length34 mile (1.2 km)
WebsiteAbbey Light Railway (Internet Archive)

The Abbey Light Railway was a 2 ft (610 mm)[1] narrow gauge railway in Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. Built by enthusiasts, the Railway ran from the nearby Bridge Road commercial area into the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey,[2] operating most Sundays.[3]


In 1974, local engineer and lecturer at Kitson College Peter Lowe applied for planning permission to build a railway at Kirkstall.[4]

From 1976, the line was built from scratch by a group of local enthusiasts, most of whom were members of the Ffestiniog Railway. Second hand rail was acquired from the Ffestiniog and the line was built over a number of years, eventually extending to 34 mile (1.2 km) from Kirkstall Abbey to Bridge Road, Kirkstall.[4]

Initially the line ran purely as a private railway, but in 1986 it received permission to start public passenger services. These ran from Spring to Autumn, every Sunday and most Bank Holidays. The highlight of the year was the weekend Kirkstall Festival.[4]

In 2006 plans were made to extend the line to the Armley Mills Industrial Museum nearby. This would have involved crossing both the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The project was never realised.[4]

After Peter Lowe died in October 2012, the railway closed. Proposed to reopen in the Spring, without its Chief Engineer insurance became difficult to secure.[5] The decision was reluctantly made by his widow to sell off the rolling stock and infrastructure. All but one of the locomotives[6] and much other material was sold to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway in Porthmadog, with work to dismantle the railway beginning in February 2013.[4]


Number Name Builder Type Date Works number Notes
1 Loweco Lister 0-4-0PM 6HP 1942 20449 Supplied new to Kelby Sand and Gravel Co. Lincolnshire. Later worked at Hoe Hill Tile works, Barton-on-Humber. Became the first locomotive of the ALR. Now at Poppleton Community Railway Nursery, York.
2 Atlas Hunslet 4wDM 20HP 1943 2465 Supplied new to the Ministry of Defence, then to the Strensall Brick and Tile works, finally worked at the Alne Tile works, near Selby. Now at Statfold Barn Railway.
3 Odin Motor Rail 4wDM 20HP 1934 5859 Originally used as a contract locomotive, purchased by the Ham River Grit Co. Ltd then by Joseph Arnold & Sons, Leighton Buzzard. Now at Gelert's Farm works (WHHR), Porthmadog.
4 Vulcan Ruston 4wDM 48DL 1942 198287 Supplied to Harpur Hill, Buxton then sold to the Royal Air Force at Burtonwood, finally acquired by Yorkshire Water for use at Chellow Heights and Thornton Moor near Bradford. Taken back by Yorkshire Water and now at Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway.It is now at the back of the car park in embsay station hidden in a shed.
5 Ruston and Hornsby 4wDM 20HP 1946 235654 Supplied new to the Elsham Lime Co., sold to the Barrow Haven Tile works, Lincolnshire. Informally known on the ALR as Little Ruston.
6 Druid Motor Rail 4wDM 20HP 1941 8644 Supplied new to the Ministry of Defense. Sold to the Alne Tile works. Purchased by the Creekmoor Light Railway at Poole. Has been heavily rebuilt at the ALR, with only the chassis, wheels, transmission and nameplate surviving from the original. It went to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway before being sold on to Pen-Y-Bryn Railway which is a private railway.
7 Orenstein & Koppel 4wDM 11HP 1935 5926 Supplied new to Cape Universal Building Products Ltd., Uxbridge. Preserved at the Chalk Pits Museum, Amberley. Currently being rebuilt. Now at Gelert's Farm.
8 Robert Hudson Ltd 0-4-0 20HP 1924 39924 New to Lanarkshire county council, Cairngryffe Quarry near Biggar.
9 Muir-Hill 0-4-0 20HP 1925 110 New to Meeth Clay works, Devon. Purchased by Rich Morris and moved to Gloddfa Ganol. Purchased by the ALR in 1998. Now at Gelert's Farm.
10 Baguley 0-4-0 10HP 1917 736 New to War Department Light Railways. Returned to Baguley's and sold to Bristol Corporation water works, Blagdon reservoir. Now at Gelert's Farm.
11 Baguley 0-4-0 10HP 1917 760 New to APCM Ltd., Bidwell Clay pit, Dunstable, then to Alan Keef, Aylesbury. Purchased by Rich Morris in 1965 and moved to Gloddfa Ganol in 1978. Sold to the Abbey Light Railway in 1998, now at the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.[7]
12 "George" Greenbat 4wBE 1957 2848 New to Chemical and Insulating Co. Ltd, Faverdale, Darlington thence to R. Stewart, North Yorkshire. Now at Ripon & District Light Railway (private line).

See also


  1. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (2006). Railway Track Diagrams Eastern. Bradford-On-Avon: Trackmaps. p. 43b. ISBN 0-9549866-2-8. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  2. ^ Brown, Jonathan (19 February 2013). "Miniature Leeds railway on the move". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  3. ^ "uploads/2013/03/Sheet-171.pdf" (PDF). LTHS. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Brown, Jonathan (19 February 2013). "Miniature Leeds railway on the move". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  5. ^ "End of the Line for the Abbey Light Railway". 21 February 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Locomotive donated to North Yorkshire volunteer railway". BBC News. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Two more visiting locomotives announced for September 2014!!". Tracks to the Trenches.

Coordinates: 53°48′59″N 1°36′16″W / 53.81639°N 1.60444°W / 53.81639; -1.60444