Trackbed lease boost as railway revival takes major step forward

By Geoff Courtney

REVIVALISTS who are planning to restore part of a west London steam railway that closed more than seven decades ago are on the cusp of agreeing a lease with the trackbed’s owner.

The 3½ mile 2ft gauge line was opened by the Metropolitan Water Board in 1916 and ran from a wharf on the Thames at Hampton to Kempton Park, transporting 760 tons of coal a week to power pumping engines at two large waterworks at either end of the line. Prior to its opening, the coal was delivered by horse and cart.

We’re getting there: Volunteers and supporters of the Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway at a small ceremony marking the completion of the first stretch of line that will connect the Hanworth Loop, seen on the left, with the original trackbed. From left: Bryan Woodriff, president of the Metropolitan Water Board Railway Society, Colin Clode, the society’s chairman, Coun Richard Foote, Douglas Dick, and Josh Webb, beside the railway’s petrol-hydraulic loco Hounslow. ROBERT LEADBETTER

The railway, which at its peak boasted 140 tipper wagons, closed in 1946, and was worked throughout its entire 30-year existence by three identical 0-4-2Ts built by Kerr Stuart and named Hampton, Kempton and Sunbury. The two waterworks are still operational today, albeit not in the original buildings, and the trackbed is now owned by Thames Water.

In 2003, enthusiasts founded the Metropolitan Water Board Railway Society with the aim of restoring two miles of the line at the Kempton end, and 10 years later a 300-yard loop, named the Hanworth Loop, complete with its own platform, was opened, albeit not on the original trackbed. This three-year, £50,000 project has enabled the society to run public steam trains, frequently headed by resident 1903 Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Darent, under the title of Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway.

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