Other vehicles

In previous submissions, we discussed the LMLR locomotives Thunderbox, Sir Mathew Pilgrim and Hotspur. There were others during my time (1995-2001) at Little Melton, as well as other items of rolling stock.

Ben, cab first, approaches Melton Wood Junction.

Ben was a big yellow locomotive. I think the transmission was hydraulic, and I assume it drove both two axle bogies. The superstructure was built on some substantial girders, and Ben looked a very impressive machine, but seemed a little out of place when running backwards, as it had to when replacing Thunderbox on the Piggeries train. I can’t tell you how Ben drove as I didn’t have the chance to drive it.

(23rd November 2016 – we can’t say too much about this at the moment, but we’ve had evidence that Ben still exists. 25th January 2017, see the comment.)

Ben, cab rearmost, approaches the tunnel.

The General was a smaller petrol electric locomotive, like all of the internal combustion LMLR locos, carried on two two-axle bogies. It might have just been driven on one bogie, but don’t quote me.

The General, wearing a cap. Note the bell between the windows.

The General worked both routes, but usually, perhaps exclusively, with the two car set. It was easier to run in reverse, as The General’s controls didn’t require much effort,  as it was a simple six position switch, controlling the current from the battery and the (I assume) generator, power went to  a motor which drove gears and chains to the bogie. Running backwards still required a degree of suppleness, turning your head to look while manipulating controls unseen, but there were better rear windows than on other machines.

You can read more about The General, and see it’s new home at Ashmanhaugh, by clicking HERE.

In the background, the rear part of the Bug and the Bug ride collection tin. Thunderbox’s coaches pass by.


The Bug was a pump trolley. You sat on it, and with a little help to start moving, moved the handle backwards and forward to turn the gears to provide movement. The Bug was 20p a go, and had its own short track parallel to the close of the Piggeries route.

The Bug run. Thunderbox departs.

The Bug was aimed at children, but was also quite useful for tracking shots of Thunderbox arriving and departing. Memory says that one day, with no other trains running, Alex took The Bug on an entire circuit of the LMLR.

The General’s rake.

During my time, we had four sets of coaches. The first three sets were metal chassis with wooden (what else?) bodies and seats, splendidly varnished, and in places articulated.

Sir Mathew Pilgrim’s rake.

They were all uncovered: we had plenty of brollies and cloths to wipe the seats, as the varnish was so good, you could wipe away the rain. We had one two car set and two three car sets, all on articulated bogies (as in the wheel sets not next to the loco or at the rear were shared between carriages). The idea was that the coaches could be used to move wood to and from storage in the tunnel. Later Hotspur acquired another two car set for The Paddock line. These were also wood, but painted maroon. If I recall correctly, I think the bogie frames were slightly lower that the existing vehicles, which meant occasional problems with clearances.

Reg as guard on Hotspur’s train. This is before Hotspur acquired it’s own set of coaches.

The guard sat at the rear of the train(normally – sometimes it didn’t happen, sometimes a guard (me) ignored the rules and followed the train around because a family needed the rear seat), and a Piggeries train arriving required the guard to move the paraphernalia (seat reserved for the guard notice, flags, cushion) from the rear to the front at the disembarkation point just before the station: letting people dismount away from the station was sensible because of the numbers carried, usually on warm, sunny, summer-like days between 3pm and 4pm – a pity because the tea run came around at about 3.30pm, and there were many times Bob and guard (me) would bolt a cake and a cup of tea before departure.

Disembarking on the Old Piggeries line. Bug route on the right, guard is bottom right.

Oh yes, I was a stickler for this: the end coaches of the sets had a bracket for a cycle lamp with a red lens. Not everyone remembered to move the tail lamp, but I don’t think anyone was ever stopped by the bobby for no tail light. Ultimately it wasn’t necessary, as with an articulated set, I trust that the train crew would have noticed any ‘breakaway’.

An early LMLR wooden wagon and wooden track.

Next to Melton Wood Junction was a reminder of the first idea of the LMLR: a wooden truck and some wooden rails. The railway was to be entirely wooden.

And then there was the old motor car. Sorry, I can remember very little, and I have no photographs. Can anyone advise?

There was another locomotive in the early days of the LMLR, and this is mentioned in the history, but this was before my time. Can anyone complete this part of the story?