Tiny ‘commuter train’ wins top heritage award

The Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway. PIC Wikimedia.
The Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway. PIC Wikimedia.
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A tiny railway which offered a lifeline to rural residents during a recent road closure has won a top heritage honour.

The narrow gauge Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway, which connects the two remote villages in South Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway, proved to be a saviour when the B797 shut last July.

With residents facing a 50-mile diversion, the rail service - which runs on a track just 2ft wide - helped people get to work and the doctor’s surgery.

It was originally used to service the lead mining industry.

Volunteers at the railway, described a Britain’s highest narrow gauge adhesion railway, are now celebrating after they collected the small group category at the Heritage Railway Association’s annual awards.

David Winpenny, commercial manager at the railway, said: “It is a great achievement as we can all now say we volunteer at an award-winning railway.

“Thanks must go to all who helped to organise and run the week of the closure, without the drivers and guards and shop people we would not have been able to do it.

“Hopefully this will give us a boost and urge us to give even more for the new season that starts at

Easter this year.”

A brass plaque will now be fitted a the Leadhills station to mark the award.

The train usually run at weekends during the summer months with it climbing to 1,498ft (456m) above sea level.

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The service link Leadhills to a terminus at Glengonnar which is less than a mile from Wanlockhead.

During the road closure, staff at the Museum of Lead Mining in Wanlockhead, used the train as a commuter service.

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The journey between the two villages takes around 25 minutes

The train runs past the disused Glengonnar Mine, where minerals were first excavated in the 1450’s.

The narrow gauge track has been built on the original track bed of the Caledonian Railway.

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