One of the most unusual railway lines in The United Kingdom was the Holyhead breakwater line in North Wales. Entirely cut off from the rest of the railway system two class 01 shunters worked the maintenance trains that helped to keep the three miles of harbour breakwater in good repair. The line was originally built to 7' gauge in the late 1840's to help with the construction of the breakwater to bring stone down from the quarry on Holyhead mountain to the site of the breakwater. The line was converted to standard gauge in 1911 when further construction was needed. This was also when the line became cut off from the rest of the railway system. Even after construction was completed the line was still needed to assist in the upkeep and maintenance of the breakwater as large boulders could be bought straight down from the quarry onto the breakwater by rail. Eventually though it became more practical to bring the material in and on to the breakwater by road and the last train ran in July of 1980. Two years later and the locomotives had been cut up for scrap on site. The breakwater and the surrounding area are now part of a country park where trains may one day, run again.
The Inspiration Box. Some sites to introduce you to Holyhead breakwater and give you a feel for this unusual line.
Holyhead breakwater railway company - The company that wants to bring railways back to breakwater country park. This site contains a full history of the breakwater and its railway
Breakwater railway photographs - A gallery of pictures from operation of the railway in 1976
2D53 - railway photographs of the breakwater from 1979
model as seen here depicts the locomotive shed and the line out
along the breakwater to the lighthouse. I tried to model the
soldiers point buildings (the castellated structure at the rear)
in some way as that helps to tie the model to t he real location.
Though its relationship to the locomotive shed has changed from
the actual location.
One thing that I have not depicted on the sketch is the mobile crane that was used to unload the wagons of their stone from the quarry and dumped on the seaward face of the breakwater wall. I left that out to keep the sketch nice and simple. But it can be seen in several of the photographs linked to in the inspiration box. Operation though somewhat limited would be quite interesting to watch. A locomotive with a couple of wagons behind loaded down with some large rocks appears from offstage from behind the loco shed and heads out onto the breakwater where it stops by the mobile crane, which (being a fully operational feature) picks the stones off the wagons and dumps them over the seawall. Exactly as the real thing would do. Doesn't sound that much but at an exhibition an operating feature like that would wow the audience.
Articles on the breakwater do refer to sidings and even a passing loop along the 3 mile length of the breakwater. It might be possible to fit a siding in at the lighthouse end and as a change to normal operations supplies might be able to be delivered to the lighthouse in a box van.
Once again on a model like this stock requirements would be limited. One loco and 3 or 4 wagons could see you through. It would be a great project to test out your scratchbuilding skills with the operational mobile crane as well. You can be pretty certain that no-one else will have a layout like it.
|Click on the logo at the top of the page to go back to the index|