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Briqueteries du Nord
Leers
Lille
 
Gauge : 600mm
Status : Ceased in 2003
(click on photos to enlarge)

 
Briqueteries du Nord, Leers  

One of three railways operated by this company in the area of Lille.

 

Date: August 1996

Date: August 1996

Date: August 1996

Around the locality of Lille, this firm operated three 600mm narrow gauge railways for the transport of clay. The brickworks at Leers was operated on a seasonal basis, and was only in production throughout the summer months. In 1996, 4 locos were present on the site, of which only 2 were in working order.

Although 2 of the locos had been rebuilt and were rather lacking in character, two locos were still in near original condition. One was not in use and one was found under the the drying sheds, raised on blocks. All the locomotives here were built by Whitcomb.

The clay pit was situated alongside the brickworks, and so the actual running line was less than 0.25km long. A second abandoned clay pit at the back of the works still had track to it and was used but only for dumping waste bricks.

 

Date: August 1996

Date: August 1996

Date: August 1996

At the time of the visit one of the two tipping sheds was being demolished and one of the rebuilt Whitcomb locos was found inside.

The loaded trains ran around the back of the brickworks and then reversed back into a tipping shed, where the skips are emptied. The clay is moved by an underfloor conveyor and broken up by a paddle prior to being formed into bricks.

The technology here had not changed for many years, and the newly formed bricks were manually loaded onto trolleys, and hand pushed to the drying sheds for stacking. The network of tracks around the drying sheds was physically connected to the line which ran to the clay pits, but locos appear only to be used to and from the clay pit.

Date: August 1996

Date: August 1996

There are approximately 24 drying sheds with tracks running between each one. When a drying shed is being stacked, further temporary tracks can be laid inside so the trolleys can be pushed as close as possible to the stacking area.

The rail system even extends alongside the kilns, where a double track with turning plates feeds each entrance. Once the bricks are dry, they are stacked into metal sided trolleys, and hand pushed from the drying sheds to the kiln entrance.

 
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Steve Thomason 2019
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Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways