Newsletter: Summer 2022

Garden banner

We hope you are well. When strolling around the trails, admiring the wildflowers and butterflies, you might almost think the world was back to normal. Well we all need a little escape at times.

Of course the reality is that we are all feeling the impact of world events. Our hope is that entry to the trails and museums should remain free to all. We feel this is particularly important when money is tight and we all look for affordable ways to relax. Remember that all income from Granites is ploughed back into the site. So when you next visit please consider making a donation to help with the upkeep of the site, or if you are feeling generous why not donate to one of our appeals. Your support is vital.

Workshop extension

NG WorkshopThank you to everyone who donated to our workshop appeal. Our small extension will house our narrow gauge locos and allow us to work on them under cover. The old loco shed will now be renovated to provide a carriage shed ready for our new coaches and possibly a visiting Narrow Gauge (NG) steam loco! This is our first step towards operating passenger trains around our NG track in the quarry bottom.

Narrow Gauge Coaches

Penrhyn Quarry coachesTo give passenger rides you need coaches! What we need are small 4-wheel open wagons with bench seats that comply with a myriad of safety rules. Ideally something that already has approval rather than designing them ourselves. Our solution is replica Penrhyn Quarry Railwayman’s coaches as they are small and don’t carry many people. We need three of these coaches. Our versions would have two compartments with hinged sides and fold up benches so they could be converted in the blink of an eye to carry general visitors or wheelchair users.

To have three of these coaches built would mean that we would not see much change out of £40,000, something we could never afford to fund ourselves! However, one of our supporters was planning to leave the Heritage Centre a generous bequest in his will but has very kindly offered to make that bequest available immediately. As a result we are delighted that the coaches have been ordered and should be ready and delivered to the Heritage Centre around May 2023.

Narrow Gauge Station

NG platformThe NG track through the new station area and the back of the Peace Garden has been lifted, packed and ballasted in preparation for the station and platform.

To fund this work we’ve launched an appeal to raise £4,500. Although the appeal is primarily for the platform it also includes money to concrete the floor in the workshop, buy a few metal sleepers, clips and sundry bits and bobs to finish the entire passenger project except for the carriage shed.

We do hope that, once again, you will come up trumps and support this campaign. If all goes to plan 2023 should see both the opening of the narrow gauge railway and the completed restoration of Robert Stephenson’s pre-Victorian Lift Bridge.

The easiest way to donate to The Quarry Bottom Station appeal is by internet banking:

  • Bank Account Name: Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre
  • Sort Code: 60-14-10
  • Account number: 55525482.

Alternatively, send a cheque payable to Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre at 240 Swithland Lane, Rothley Leicestershire LE7 7UE. Further details of how to donate can be found on our donate page

Lift Bridge

The new timbers were ordered in February and were expected to arrive in June. The very long timbers were coming from Russia and, due to the Ukraine situation, this can no longer happen, so we have had to find an alternative source. The current estimated arrival time for these is now early August. As soon as the timbers arrive, reassembly of the bridge deck and frame will begin.

We are pleased to have been awarded a grant of £20,000 by the Association for Industrial Archaeology for the Lift Bridge project. This is in addition to grants received a few months ago from the Edith Murphy Foundation and the Helen Jean Cope Charity. This means that we can now start work on the restoration of the original metal components of the bridge and seek specialised repair quotes for things like iron welding and any missing components that need to be recast, or require ultra sound and other structural testing. At present there will still be a funding shortfall on this project but we hope that visitors and supporters will be inspired to make donations as they see the bridge start to be reassembled on site.

Cab Rides and Footplate Photo Opportunities

ColinThese are now available on the shunting demonstration days when either ‘Colin the Steam Engine’ or the Ruston diesel are at work. Cab rides are available at £10 and Footplate photo opportunities at £5 with the proceeds going to the latest of our projects that requires funding.

Jubilee Garden Opening and Beacon Lighting

Opening Jubilee GardenSaturday 4th June 2022 saw an important visit from Rosemary Conley CBE, in her capacity as a deputy Lieutenant for the County. She very kindly opened our new Queen’s Platinum Jubilee garden and met our volunteers who had worked on creating it.

Beacon Re-dedicationShe then moved on to rededicate the Mountsorrel beacon that has been relocated to the Heritage Centre site and the lighting of the beacon to mark the jubilee. The beacon used to stand on the top of Castle Hill in Mountsorrel and was originally erected to mark the opening of the town’s bypass in 1991. It was, however, in a very poor state and Tarmac have completely renovated the original and donated that to us, whilst also sponsoring its replacement on Castle Hill.

We have a short video of the garden opening and beacon re-dedication at

The nature trails

Garlic Mustard Plant

Garlic Mustard food for the orange tip butterfly

With so many new projects competing for attention in the quarry it is easy to overlook the attraction that the nature trails offer. Over the last few weeks the whole site has looked splendid clothed in blue, white, yellow and purple; daffodils, forget-me-nots, cowslips, primrose, ground ivy, lungwort, violets, coltsfoot, damson and lilac blossom, garlic mustard and ramsons (to name but just some!). The trees have budded up and greenery is to be seen everywhere. Several new plants have been introduced into the Butterfly Walk. These include buddleia, marjoram, erysimum, verbena, sedums, wood sage, wild grasses and thistle (to be kept under control), foxgloves, hemp agrimony etc. In the quarry bottom, several orange tip butterflies and brimstones have been seen on the wing together. The larval food plant of the orange tip is garlic mustard and the Trail has tons of it! Speckled wood butterflies are there daily in the dappled shade of the Trail and the Spinney. A preferred food plant for the speckled wood butterfly is couch grass of which we also have plenty in the Meadow! And the odd comma, peacock, holly blue and small tortoiseshell have also been spotted. All of which tends to make what we do seem kind of worthwhile!