This class R2 locomotive was built by Peckett & Sons in 1926 and was supplied new to Gypsum Mines Ltd at Kingston-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire. It was given the name Lady Angela after the second Lady Belper, the wife of the owner of the estate where the mine was situated. It spent its working life there through several changes of ownership until replaced by diesel traction.
The first gypsum mine shaft in Kingston was sunk by Henry, 2nd Lord Belper in 1880
A tramway was built in 1883, which ran down to the Midland main line at Kegworth station and a wharf on the River Soar. From there the gypsum was taken by boat to Timms Mill (Marple) and Goodacre’s Mill at Zouch and Barrow on Soar for grinding
The tramway was worked by horses until the first locomotive was acquired in 1885.
In 1888 Lord Belper built a grinding mill at Kingston. In 1895 the first circular pan for making plaster was installed. By 1903 demand for both the mineral and plaster had developed considerably and the Kingston works had been amalgamated with the Sub-Wealden Gypsum Co. Ltd of Mountfield (Sussex). When this concern was combined with the Kingston business a new company named Gypsum Mines Ltd was formed, with Lord Belper as chairman. The main object of the amalgamation was to introduce anhydrous plaster to the market in the Midlands, where it had not previously been known, under the trade name Sirapite.
The Kingston Company went through a difficult period during the First World War because of the contraction of the building industry but by 1926 trade had revived. Additional kilns and grinding plant were installed and a second locomotive acquired. Electricity from the public supply became available in 1929 and a start was made in using it at the works. In 1935 the company was taken over by British Plaster Board Ltd, a combine established to rationalise the industry. After the Second World War more development work was undertaken.
By 1970 it was decided to close the mineral railway and use road transport instead. In 1971 the track was lifted and the engines sold.
It was eventually purchased by D.F. Pratley from British Gypsum Ltd for preservation by the Shackerstone Railway Society. The Shackerstone Railway Society operates the Battlefield Railway.
The locomotive was moved to the Society’s headquarters at Shackerstone railway station in Leicestershire in May 1971. An edited version of the transfer documented by A R Etherington is reproduced below.
At the time of the locomotives delivery Shackerstone was cut off from the country’s road network by severe weight restrictions pending repairs to a bridge over the Ashby de la Zouch canal. Arrangements were therefore made with British Railways for it to be unloaded half a mile north of the station (where a road ran alongside the track) and for it to be towed along the line, which was then still in use, by John Vernon’s Scammell Pioneer. A crane hire company advised that the locomotive should be lifted off a low loader on the bridge, lifted over the parapet and lowered onto the track below.
Attempts were made to follow the procedure suggested by the crane company. After many lifting attempts which set off the crane’s overload alarm bells it was concluded that this approach would result in the locomotive, crane and part of the bridge falling down onto the line.
At this point Mr Vernon moved his Scammell a little further away. Two hours later it was agreed that the unloading needed to take place in the lane as originally envisaged. This was not without event as the ground was riddled with anthills and a solid footing for the crane outriggers was very difficult to obtain.
Amidst much further ringing of the overload bells the locomotive was unloaded and towed by the Scammell to the station, where it was jacked up and slewed across onto the Society’s own track.
In 1976 the privately owned locomotive was moved to the South Devon Railway. It was out of service there until 2003.
It is currently out of service.