Snailbeach District Railway Mystery

John Luxton

Member
Joined
23 Nov 2014
Messages
196
Earlier today I became involved in a thread on another group concerning the defunct Snailbeach District Railway in Shropshire.

However, the moderators of the group found an urgent need to shut down the thread of the conversation which was drifting towards discussing a restoration plan from the 2000s.

In May this year I visited the area around Snailbeach Mine where a lot of the track is still in place.

My photos can be found here by the way:

https://www.jhluxton.com/Railways-a...ains-and-Relics/Snailbeach-District-Railways/

I had also made a previous very quick visit a few years earlier. At the time I found some information on Wikipedia and that satisfied my curiosity.

However, in 2020, 4 years on from my initial visit read the recent highly detailed history published in 2017 by Twelveheads Press. Only then did I realise that the original SDR company apparently still exists

The foreword to the book is written by the current Chairman of the Snailbeach District Railways M.J.L. Igludden. The railway has been closed since 1959 but the company has never been dissolved by Act of Parliament thus still legally exists.

Interestingly Mr Igludden’s father acquired the railway from W.H. Austen – the business partner of the late light railway king Colonel Fred Stephens. The SDR had been one of the Colonel’s railways.

The last acts of the company apparently was to sell off land in the 1980s.

Out of curiosity I did some more googling and visited Companies House web site.

However, I could not find any trace of the original company but did find a new company inaugurated in 2006. But the directors have never included a Mr Igludden.

After a bit more googling I found a reference on a Liberal Democrat blog - Liberal England Blog

http://liberalengland.blogspot.com/2008/08/great-snailbeach-railway-mystery.html

Reading this it became clear that about 12 years ago there was a proposal to re-open the railway as a tourist attraction. If you read the links it seemed to get bogged down in acrimony / doubts by some enthusiasts and even threats of legal action – there was even suggestion that the originators of the company from Switzerland were killed in a car crash. The original directors of the company are shown on Companies House web site as being from Zurich.

However, this debate over the restoration of the railway became heated which resulted in a Yahoo Snailbeach Oversight Group being formed by doubters. This Yahoo Group now appears defunct. However, Google has some archive discussion on the old uk.railway news group:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/uk.railway/1cBjpDcJ7wI

I also found a thread on the mining history group Adit Now:

Adit Now:

https://www.aditnow.co.uk/community/viewtopic.aspx?t=4702

The 2006 company does have a web site http://sdrailway.com/ - last updated 2009

And another at: http://the.snailbeach.com/ - last updated 2012.

However, I would like and explanation as to why this subject has become so controversial and why today myself and a couple of other people were warned off from discussing it.

I hope this isn’t going to stir up a can of worms here on Railforums – I would just like to know – by private message if necessary - what is or was going on and why discussion of it should be silenced.

I am not trying to be a troublemaker and have absolutely no interest other than personal curiosity as a railway enthusiast.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

As I get the feeling there are people out there who know but will say nothing.

thanks

John
 
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paul1609

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I think that the reason that the original company survived so long is that when the railway closed part of the route to the quarry was converted to a road and that the operators of the quarry Shropshire Council paid an annual rent to the railway Co. to use it. Eventually it was deemed inadequate and a new road was built in 1998. I don't have any details of the preservation attempts. There's a couple of people at the K&ESR who might know but I haven't seem them for some months because of Covid.
 

John Luxton

Member
Joined
23 Nov 2014
Messages
196
I think that the reason that the original company survived so long is that when the railway closed part of the route to the quarry was converted to a road and that the operators of the quarry Shropshire Council paid an annual rent to the railway Co. to use it. Eventually it was deemed inadequate and a new road was built in 1998. I don't have any details of the preservation attempts. There's a couple of people at the K&ESR who might know but I haven't seem them for some months because of Covid.
Thanks - I understand that the company listed at Companies House is not the original company but a new one founded in 2006. The original company does not appear to be listed at Companies House. I have found out that people have been reluctant to talk because there were threats of legal action for some reason after debates on other groups and forums. Why? I don't know as I didn't see them at the time.

John
 

Chris125

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12 Nov 2009
Messages
2,547
As I get the feeling there are people out there who know but will say nothing.
I can't recall the exact details but the whole thing proved to be an elaborate fantasy - it started off sounding reasonably plausible but the whole thing became increasingly bizarre and fractious when their claims started to be questioned and it all fell apart.

A very odd affair which mostly played out on the National Preservation forum, but I think the relevant threads were deleted a long time back.
 
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6Gman

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1 May 2012
Messages
6,204
I can't recall the exact details but the whole thing proved to be an elaborate fantasy - it started off sounding reasonably plausible but the whole thing became increasingly bizarre and fractious when their claims started to be questioned and it all fell apart.

A very odd affair which mostly played out on the National Preservation forum, but I think the relevant threads were deleted a long time back.
That is my recollection too. The business was all very, very strange.
 

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