Industrial rail transport from a bygone age plus present day quarrying practice have been recreated at the Conkers Discovery Centre.
The engine has been built to replicate steam shunting locos that worked in Leicestershire before they were replaced by diesel power. And the ride has been landscaped to provide a scaleddown model of a disused and regenerated quarry.
Conkers is an educational theme park constructed for the Heart of the National Forest Foundation on the site of Rowston Colliery near Ashby de la Zouch, which closed in 1992. Around 50ha of land has been cleared of coal waste and re-landscaped with lakes and around 150,000 trees to create new woodland within the National Forest.
The £16M project, part funded by the Millennium Commission, includes a 1km one third scale railway ride around the model quarry. Aggregate Industries UK sponsored the train and provided around 2,500t of stone from its Croft and Bardon Hill quarries in Leicestershire to landscape the ride. This replicates how a regenerated quarry can look with lakes and trees, and rock positioned to show quarry workings blending in with the replanted woodland.
Leisure transport manufacturer Severn Lamb designed and built the one third scale locomotive from photographs of steam pannier-tank locomotives used to shunt Leicestershire mineral trains until the 1960s.
'The Conkers engine is diesel hydraulic driven, but the outline design has been based on the typical 4-4-0 pannier tanks that worked in quarries and collieries in the region from around the turn of the last century, ' says Severn Lamb engineering manager Roy Larner.
IMC Consultants designed the track layout, stations and pedestrian crossing points from loadings, minimum curvature and gradients supplied by Severn Lamb.
Track was laid by Tunnel Steels on track bed constructed by civils contractor TK Lynskey working for the landscape contractor Bernhards Landscapes, which also built the ride's two timber stations.
INFOPLUS Conkers (01283) 216633 www. visitconkers. com