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The Skarloey Railway is a narrow gauge railway which runs from the North Western Railway's station at Crovan's Gate to Skarloey. Beyond Skarloey, the line continues to a slate quarry.

The railway is owned by Sir Handel Brown and is run by Mr. Percival, previously Mr. Roger Sam, son of the first controller, Mr. Peter Sam.

History

In 1806, a plate way utilising gravity running from Ward Fell to Balladwail and connecting with the Sodor and Mainland Railway was opened. Following the modernisation of the Ffestiniog Railway in 1863, James Spooner was hired to plot a trackbed for a narrow gauge line. It was also planned to develop passenger traffic for tourists travelling to the springs at Skarloey, where there would be hotels and guest houses. Two steam engines were ordered from Fletcher, Jennings, and Co. and carriages from Brown Marshall.

The numbers of summer visitors dropped after signs of their copper traffic declining, but when slate was found a new source of traffic arose. After World War II, however, hard times had come and the mines had become ammunition dumps. Fortunately, tourist traffic increased after the discovery of the Book of Sir Harold at Ulfstead Castle, which revealed that Skarloey was his secret sanctuary, with archaeological evidence proving so. The railway was then able to purchase two disused engines from the aluminium works at Peel Godred for a total of fifty pounds.

In 1965, a loop line around Skarloey lake was opened to celebrate the centenary of the railway.

Operations

The Skarloey Railway starts at Crovan's Gate near the Steamworks and continues to Cros-ny-Cuirn, Glennock and Rheneas before terminating at Skarloey. The new lakeside loopline extension has one station, appropriately named Lakeside. It continues west from Skarloey to the Blue Mountain Quarry and then crosses The Peel Godred Branch south of Kirk Machan. After crossing the line it terminates in Ulfstead where it connects with the private railway at Ulfstead Castle. Here it connects with the Ulfstead Branch Line.The line's main traffic consists of passengers and slate.

The Skarloey Railway was originally used to transport copper from the Ward Fell mines until 1909 when the copper veins ran out. Luckily, in 1900 good slate had been found in the foothills and was mined until the end of World War I when production slumped. Nevertheless, the quarries were kept open by Sir Handel Brown I for the sake of his tenants. During World War II, the Ministry of Defence commandeered the mines for use as ammunition storage/dumps.

Engines

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