Here are some details of the locomotives that can be seen working the line.

'Woody', 'Hugh' & 'Li'l Jo' are owned and operated by Silver Fox Steam, and sometimes visit other railways.

No 4 - 'Hunter'

'Hunter' at Troll Bridge March 2019

'Hunter' is owned by the railway and is powerful enough to handle even the heaviest of trains.

She is a 4 wheel battery electric loco designed and supplied as a kit by Phoenix Locomotives of Southport, the prototype being narrow gauge diesel shunter by Ornstein & Koppel.

'Hunter' was brought into service at a grand naming ceremony on Saturday November 25th 2017 in time for the busy Santa trains planned later in the year.

Finished in LNER green, carrying namplates in our local, pre-nationalisation railway's style and sporting the number 4 (being the fourth locomotive to work the line), 'Hunter' was financed by a public appeal, ticket sales and on-train advertising of local businesses.

Loco No. 4 'Hunter' sporting a new grille - March 2020

No.1 - 'Woody'

'Woody's' frames - early stages

'Woody' was built in 2014 at the Churwell loco works of Silver Fox Steam and, true to her name, was build on a frame of MDF (well, it's sort of wood!). She has four wheels driven by chain from a 24 volt electric motor (originally running on 12 volts). The wheels are attached to a sprung subframe that also carries the motor. Two batteries are placed under the lift-off bonnet section. A Parkside controller sits in the fixed cab, the handset being held by the driver sitting on the riding car coupled behind.

In Sept 2016 in order to boost the power to cope with pulling two carriages up the 1:20 gradient into the station, the loco was converted to running on 24 volts. This did the business for the slope but also increased the speed - 'Woody' is now a very lively runner!

'Woody', riding car & carriage No.1

Joanna driving 'Woody' on a test run (loco still in primer grey - driver in summer outfit & cool 'shades')

'Li'l Jo' - Maxitrak 2-4-0 tender Loco

No.2 - 'Li'l Jo'

'Li'Jo' passes the signal box - photo by Julian Hudson

'Li’l Jo' is a 71/4” gauge 2-4-0 steam locomotive built by Maxitrak of Kent in 2000. She is based on a locomotive built by the North American locomotive engineering company, Porter, for the 3’ gauge Catherine Plantation Sugar Cane Railroad in Louisiana, USA.

She has a rather oversized tender that provides plenty of coal and water, as well as a comfortable (?) riding seat for the driver!

The wheel arrangement, 2-4-0, refers to the two small wheels at the front, then the four driving wheels, the ‘0’ means that there are no wheels at the back (the tender doesn’t count!). The front wheels, or ‘pony truck’, help guide the loco on it’s way down the track and support some of the weight of the front buffer beam and pilot (or ‘cowcatcher’). The four bigger driving wheels are coupled together and are driven by the pistons – they’re what make the loco move and haul her passengers.

The ‘gauge’ is the distance between the rails. 7 ¼” is one of the UK standards for miniature railways. In the ‘real world’ any less than the ‘standard’ gauge of 4’ 8 ½” is called ‘narrow gauge’. So as the original ‘Li’l Jo’ ran on a 3’ gauge track, she was a narrow gauge loco.

The loco has two big domes on the boiler. One is to cover the safety valves and collect all the steam that is made in the boiler, the other is for sand that can be sprinkled on the rails if it’s slippery. In proper American style, she carries a bell to warn people that she’s coming down the track. She also has a pair of steam whistles. The tall chimney has a large top that was designed to help prevent sparks from the fire setting all the sugar cane alight! There is a very large headlamp mounted on the smokebox to light up the track ahead for safe night-time running.

Her name, in traditional American style, is painted on a wooden frame carried on the cabside. Brass nameplates, as used on British railways, were rare in the States.

In common with many small gauge locomotives, ‘Li’l Jo’ doesn’t have brakes, these are provided on the tender to which the loco is connected by a strong ‘drawbar’ and safety chain!

As well as the Churwell Woodland Railway, ‘Li’l Jo’ works at the Porthmadog Woodland Railway and, locally, at the Blackgates track in Tingley.

During August 2017, 'Li'l Jo' went back to her makers, Maxitrak, for work on her valvegear & motion after worn bushes and bad valve timing were diagnosed. 'Li'l Jo' will be in action again in 2018.

No 3 - 'Robin'

Robin outside the shed, autumn 2016

Robin was the main locomotive working the railway during the 2017 season. A battery-electric loco of freelance design it's 24 volt motor and low gearing proved ideal for the railway. However originally a 6 wheeler, the curves on the railway proved too much for it and we had to temporarily remove the centre wheelset.

After the arrival of Hunter, Robin was no longer required and owners Silver Fox Steam, took the decision to sell the loco and she is now working a private railway in the south of England.


Hugh 'resting' at Troll Bridge

An 0-4-0 narrow gauge style loco built by Station Road Steam of Lincoln, 'Hugh' is strong enough to handle passenger trains and will be visiting the railway on special occasions.

Based on a design of small industrial engines by W.G. Bagnall of Stafford, 'Hugh' has a saddle tank and an open, 'colonial-style' cab, Walschaert's valvegear and sports a 'Rosebud' grate in the firebox.

  • Manoeuvering onto the track

  • Firing-up at the station

  • Steam up & testing

What Makes a Steam Locomotive Work?

Cab controls

The following pictures show the controls and major components of a miniature steam locomotive. The loco featured is the famous 'Sweet Pea', designed by Jack Buckler of Leeds.