14th May 2009
The tale of Little Nut’s snowplough goes back some time. The first photograph below is our first awareness of the plough, being dated to the First World War and take on account of employment of a female at Rookhope, where the little Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST No.3029 built in 1913 worked. This was a 1 ft 10 in gauge line built by the Weardale Lead Company Ltd and was some 1 1/4 miles in length. Little is know of the railway, it is believed to have closed not long afterwards as the locomotive was reported out of use from 1919, and scrapped around 1934. However, its short working life was sufficient for it to gain the affectionate name ‘Little Nut’.
Little thought was given to the snowplough until it appeared at Beamish amongst a collection of lead mining tubs and equipment. Jim Rees identified its location and the plough was left to slumber.
When I started at Beamish I came to hear of this snowplough. An inspection revealed that only the blade survived, and that the chassis presumed to be associated with it was probably off an end tipping wagon and not part of the plough itself.
I thought it would be nice to conserve the plough (quite unusual for a narrow gauge line) and build a replica of it, complete with the tub to which it was affixed.
The Beamish Development Trust granted £2400 for the work and currently Roger Lees, a Derbyshire based blacksmith, is constructing a replica of the blade. The Bowes Railway will then build a replica tub. Hopefully it will be demonstrated on a mooted narrow gauge line at Beamish (two foot gauge – this gives rather more opportunity to use it than on 1 ft 10 in gauge) though the snowfall may be harder to arrange!