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Report - Simplex Graveyard, Wales, Feb 10

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by 54Strat, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. 54Strat

    54Strat 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Feb 6, 2009
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    For 77 years The Motor Rail and Tramcar Company Ltd. (MRTC) and its successors produced a highly innovative and successful range of tramcars and small internal combustion locomotives, thousands of which were sold in the U.K. and in many other parts of the world.

    The Motor Rail & Tramcar Co. Ltd. was formed in 1911, and after John Abbott had visited Germany in about 1911 and was alarmed at the stockpiles of light railway equipment for army use. Worried that there was no British equivalent for use on temporary military supply railways, he set about designing such a machine.


    In 1916 The War Office required “Petrol Trench Tractorsâ€￾ of 600-mm gauge that were capable of drawing 10 to 15 Tons at 5 miles per hour and the MRTC tendered for and was successful in gaining a contract to build the Tractors.

    The first standard gauge locomotive was produced in 1919 and standard and narrow gauge locomotive manufacture dominated in the 1920s. The first discussions about diesel locos took place in about 1928.

    The War Department also placed orders in the Second World War, generally for the 20/28 B.H.P. type.

    In 1931 the name of the company changed from the Motor Rail & Tram Car Co. Ltd. to Motor Rail. The company was able to expanc with sales to India, the Far East, East Africa (including Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda), South Africa, Rhodesia and some of West Africa. For example, prior to 1953 500 Simplex locos where sold in South Africa.

    In the late 50's, competition and pirated spares led to a turbulent time for the next few decades, until finally in August 1987 the decision was made to cease locomotive manufacture and close the factory at Bedford. All equipment and machine tools were sold at auction at Elstow Road on 15th September. The locomotive business was transferred to AKL at its new premises near Ross-on-Wye, with the attachment spares business being transferred to a new company, Simplex Attachment Spares Ltd. SMH continued to deal in drum handling machinery but the original 1911 Motor Rail company was dissolved on 15th December, 1987.

    Simplex locos can still be found working in British and overseas industry today, and indeed the oldest loco in British industrial service is believed to be Motor Rail 5402 of 1932, still at work on a Scottish peat farm.


    I visited here a year ago. It's a private owner's collection out in the middle of nowhere, neglected but hopefully not forgotten.

    I was like the proverbial kids in a sweet shop, this place has narrow gauge industrial railway stuff all over the place, and a 1/4 mile track to boot.

    All locomotives here are Motorail Simplexes and all are narrow gauge (2ft or thereabouts) apart from one jewel that is standard gauge. I think there's about 6 or 7 dotted around and are a collection of 20hp, 12/20hp and 20/28hp models, the standard gauge on is from 1919.






















    Thanks for looking, and putting up with the long winded history.

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