The Hadren Railway (HR) is the primary railway serving the island of Hadren. It terminates at Whitehaven, Dullmoness and Rothery, with branchlines serving Abercerig, the Cerig Peak mining and quarry network, the South Hadren Harbour and the Port of Paken.
The Hadren Railway formed in early 1919. In the aftermath of the Great War, much like Britain's other railways, the North Coast Railway and Manfeld & Donning Railway were run down, and in need of money. In order to solve these issues, the two companies merged, becoming the HR. Lord Alfred Stazzel became the new railway's director. In August that year, during a period of bad storms around the north-west coast, the cliff face under a section of the goods line collapsed, causing No.4 and 5 to fall into the sea below. Following this accident, the line between Abercerig and Rothery was closed permanently, and the line was extended between Donning and Caleg to reconnect with the west of the island. In order to compensate for the loss of motive power, a new goods engine was built at Hanel. The new No.4 left the works in March the next year, and was named "Caleg".
The 1920's and Great Depression
Much like the North Western Railway, the Hadren Railway went largely unchanged during the 1921 Railway Act and 1923 Grouping, largely due to the influence of Sir Toby Brunton, 24th Earl of Hadren. In 1924 an order was placed with Hanel Works to construct a 4-4-0 to handle the 'Victorian' express services, and a 2-6-0 mogul for mixed traffic work. The new engines arrived in May that year, and were christened as No.5 "Earl of Hadren" and No.7 "Lochcasstul" respectively. The former was put to work on mainline passenger duties, previously run by No.9. "Von Stazzel" was moved to a mixed-traffic role alongside "Lochcasstul", to replace the now withdrawn No.7 and 8, with "Excelsior" and No.3 running the Abercerig branchline.
In 1926, the railway opened a new branch line through the Cerig Peaks, in order to serve the mines and stone quarry in the area. The steep gradients and heavy loads, along with the weight limits for the bridges along this new line meant No.3, now named "Cerig", was the most suitable engine to run the line. To fill the gap in engines on the Abercerig line, as well as to work along tramway sections of the line in the town of Morin, a new diesel railbus was built, RB1 "Morin".
The railway, like many others, took a hit in revenue during the Great Depression, although the HR's smaller size meant it suffered less than the larger railways.
World War 2, Recovery and Change.
Like other parts of Britain, Hadren suffered during the war. Rationing, blackouts and air raid drills caused public moral to dip, and only worsened when the Luftwaffe bombed Dullmoness, Rothery, Caleg, and many other parts of the island during the Blitz. The railway suffered greatly during these air raids, with sections of the mainline, as well as the goods yards at Rothery and Debrent, being demolished by the bombers. The greater demand for fuel and munition trains to the navy and the Hanel Works' involvement in production of tank and aircraft parts gave the HR enough traffic to continue operations until 1945.
The Hadren Railway had a slightly better recovery after the war than the Big Four. The end of the war allowed tourism to resume, which had always been one of the railway's larger sources of revenue. In 1947, the Royal Navy and MOD decided to decommission the harbour east of Caleg, with the intent of selling it to the railway to operate it as a secondary port in the area. Unfortunately, a fire and subsequent munition explosion led to the facilities being abandoned.
Due to a combination of it's small size, privately-owned status and the interference of the Earl once again, the HR escaped from the Nationalisation of the Big Four in 1948. In exchange for maintaining independence, the HR had to allow BR to run non-stop services between Dullmoness and Caleg, and also lost running rights over the bridge to Whitehaven. Coinciding with nationalisation was the retirement of Lord Stazzel. His nephew, Mr Richard Drennor, took over as director. 1949 saw 100 years since the Manfeld & Donning Railway opened, and celebrations were held for the Centenary. A new mainline diesel named "Manfeld" enter service that same year, intended to serve as a backup engine and handle maintenance trains. The railway continued to see commercial success into the 1960's, as Hadren's terrain made roads somewhat less preferable to the railway. In 1962, the railway ran special services for a week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the West Hadren Industrial Railway opening, and again in 1973 for the North Coast Railway. In 1975, after 107 years of service, No.6 "Pug" retired as Dullmoness Central station pilot. A new shunter was ordered from Hanel, arriving the next year as No.10 "Thielho". "Von Stazzel" and "Dullmoness" would also retire in 1978, leading to RB2 "Donning", a larger diesel railbus, being built to handle mainline mixed traffic work.
Reopening old lines and Into the present
In 1982, work was started by Hadren's Council to build reclaimed land in the Paken Rocks near Rothery, with the intent of building a port there. The HR was contracted to transport stone from the Cerig Peaks Stone Quarry to Morin Harbour, where barges would bring the stone to the work site. When the work was nearing completion in mid 1983, the railway began to build a new line to provide a connection to the port. The Port of Paken opened in June 1984, with the line to it being operated as an extension of the Abercerig branch.
After 38 years, the now Sir Richard Drennor went into retirement, leaving his son Authur as his replacement. One of the new direcotr's first acts was to begin infrastructure work on the Cerig Peaks line in 1987 to strengthen and repair the bridges and tunnels on the line. "Cerig" was relocated to the Abercerig line, primarily handling the work to the Port of Paken. When the work was completed for the line, another new diesel, No.11 "Wadall", was assigned to the quarry line, being able to handle the work more efficiently than the ageing tank engine. In 1991, after bursting his left cylinder, "Excelsior" retired from service, leaving the Abercerig line short on engines, so No.12 "Debrent" was built, handling the line's goods work.
1994 saw the HR begin tearing down and rebuilding the disused naval base to reopen it as a railway-owned harbour. While inspecting the buildings before demolition (to ensure no explosives had been left behind), workmen discovered the MOD shunter who once ran the base. Upon these findings, the railway were able to buy the engine from the MOD, who was subsequently overhauled and named No.13 "Corporal". "Corporal" was then used alongside "Manfeld" in the rebuilding of the harbour, and was assigned there as shunter once work was completed in early 1996. South Hadren Harbour opened in February that year, and saw some success as overflow when the busy docks in Caleg Harbour were full. It also proved fairly popular for smaller shipping firms who weren't keen on the higher fees at Caleg and Paken.
Much like in 1923 and 1948, the HR managed to slip under the radar of the 1993 Railways Act. As the track between Dullmoness and Whitehaven was owned by BR, it was briefly incorporated into Railtrack, however the HR was able to buy the stretch of line from them, allowing them to freely run services to Whitehaven themselves. In 1998, "Caleg" was taken off of the mainline goods work, being transferred to the Abercerig branch line to help with their goods traffic, with "Cerig" moving to help work the South Hadren Harbour line. A third new diesel, No.14 "Hanel", was delivered to work the mainline goods trains. Around the same time, a new nuclear power station was built at the base of the Cerig Peaks, near Stonebridgebourne. The HR were contracted to help transport materials for the construction, and later to transport fuel for the reactors. A new stretch of track was built to the site for this purpose.
The railway started to see a fall in profits with the start of the millennium, as it's ageing fleet was unable to keep up with demand, particularly on passenger services. Mr A. Drennor stepped down as director in 2008, however his son William was unable to replace him at the time, so the former's cousin, Harold Stazzel, took over instead. Mr Stazzel was quite old, however, and died of pneumonia 7 years later. The young Mr Drennor was now able to run the railway, and so became the HR's 5th director. The new director's first major act was the implementation of the 'Hadren Railway Modernising Scheme', which aimed to introduce a new fleet of engines to supplement the older units, along with a heavy rework of both passenger and freight services. By the time the final stages of the scheme were completed in late 2018, the railway had acquired an ex-Caleg Tramways railbus, a small goods diesel, a pair of 3-car DMUs, 1 new maintenance vehicle, 6 new general purpose diesels, and a 6-car HST set, and many facility and infrastructure upgrades. In 2019, the Hadren Railway commemorated a centenary since it's formation, and held a week long celebration featuring visiting celebrity engines.
Locomotives and Directors
The Hadren Railway has owned a total of 32 locomotives throughout it's history.
- No.1 "Von Stazzel" (former, ex-NCR, retired)
- No.2 "Excelsior" (former, ex-NCR, retired)
- No.3 "Cerig" (ex-NCR)
- No.4 (former, ex-M&DR, destroyed)
- No.4 "Caleg"
- No.5 (former, ex-M&DR, destroyed)
- No.5 "Earl of Hadren"
- No.6 "Pug" (former, ex-M&DR, retired)
- No.7 (former, ex-M&DR, withdrawn and scrapped)
- No.7 "Lochcasstul"
- No.8 (former, ex-M&DR, withdrawn and scrapped)
- No.8 "Manfeld"
- No.9 "Dullmoness" (former, ex-M&DR, retired)
- No.10 "Thielho"
- No.11 "Wadall"
- No.12 "Debrent"
- No.13 "Corporal" (ex-MOD)
- No.14 "Hanel"
- No.15 "Surshan"
- No.16 "Sir George Brunton"
- No.17 "Stephen Hennessy"
- No.18 "Ballameer"
- No.19 "Centaur"
- No.20 "Pegasus"
- No.21 "Cerberus"
- No.22 "Minotaur"
- No.23 "Siren"
- No.24 "Basilisk"
- No.25 "Lord Alfred Stazzel"
- No.26 "Sir Richard Drennor"
- RB1 "Morin"
- RB2 "Donning"
- RB3 "South Filwin" (ex-CT)
In addition, numerous other privately-owned locomotives have been either loaned to or operated on the HR.
There have been 5 directors on the Hadren Railway.
- Lord Alfred Stazzel (1919-1948)
- Sir Richard Drennor (1948-1986)
- Mr Arthur Drennor (1986-2008)
- Mr Harold Stazzel (2008-2015)
- Mr William Drennor (2015-present)