Chris Burch's Model Railways

Beamends Colliery

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By the time we moved to Coventry, I had already dreamed up a colliery layout, with the Nivverwas Valley Tramway passing nearby. But it wasn't till my 50th birthday (2000) that I commissioned my friend Steve Jones to make a baseboard for the new layout. Its first exhibition was at the Leeds show (oddly enough) in October 2006 – I am not a quick modeller! Since then I have been all over the East Midlands with it – autumn 2009 shows included Warwick N Gauge show (Sept 12/13) and Wirksworth (Oct 17/18). Beamends Colliery has had three bookings in 2011, at Earl Shilton (Feb 26th), the Abbey Pumping Station in Leicester (April 2nd) and at the N Gauge Show in Leamington once again, Sept 10/11, which was its last show in my ownership.

While we were at the N Gauge show, a gentleman came up and offered to buy Beamends Colliery (which has been up for sale for a few months). So Jim took the layout away at the end of the show, which ironically was our best ever. I was a bit sad - I've lived with Beamends for five years, not to mention the six years before it was finished - but it's time to move on. The photos will stay on the website, and Beamends will always remain on the map of the Nivverwas Valley Tramway!

Here is the description I have stuck to the front of the layout.

The (made-up) story.
Beamends Colliery (somewhere in the Yorkshire hills) was so small, it survived all the closures of the 20th century. But it was a close thing - the colliery land is largely covered by weeds and other vegetation, and the track and stock are old and decrepit. However, the colliery has just been rediscovered by the preserved steam industry, as its coal is better than the Russian coal they have been buying. There are signs of renewal about. And nearby Upsett Junction has been discovered as a dropping-off point for walkers – the station building is being extended to take in a cafe.

Coal trains roll through the junction and arrive at the colliery exchange road, whence a colliery loco pushes the short rake of empty trucks into the colliery. Later, the full rake is drawn out. The original loco couples up again and takes it away, through the tunnel to the rest of the line.

Other trains include a daily miners' train from Upsett Village (a diesel railcar acquired from the GWR), and a pick-up goods trains for the junction and/or colliery. One or two tourist trains (with picturesque stock) are beginning to travel to the junction, and you might even see an Upwell (or Upsett?) tram engine pulling the director's inspection coach up and down the line.

The Beamends Colliery wagons have been commissioned from Robbie Burns. I liked the image so much, it's on our nameboard and badges. There, it's new and fresh, but on the wagons the lettering is old and faded – and that's even before the grime and coal dust were added.


In loving memory of John Bennett, formerly of Leeds, model railway engineer and my mentor in the 1990s, who died in September 2006.

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