Ropeway Gondola

Status: Ongoing restoration to display condition

Location: Wansford: By IRPS workshop near Nord Express

As well as international and British railway vehicles under the custodianship of IRPS we also have an expanding collection of artefacts from the Peterborough-based London Brickworks Company. If you have any further information, or if you worked in the local brick industries, we would love to hear both any information you have and any personal recollections you have. Please do not hesitate to get in contact by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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 The restored gondola car at Wansford 

This equipment was part of the aerial ropeway used between the Dogsthorpe and Northam brickworks of the London Brick Company.  This was the last aerial ropeway in use within LBC, and it was used for the transport of clay (known as knotts within LBC) from pits near Dogsthorpe to Northam, a distance of approximately one mile. It was reputed to have been installed around 1925.

Other aerial ropeways were operated by LBC both for clay transport and also 'smudging', the conveyance of coal from stock piles to the top of the brick kilns where it was added to assist in the firing of the bricks.

The ropeway system in action

Possibly installed by Ropeways Limited, it was necessary as the earlier pits adjacent to the Northam Works were reported exhausted at that time. Originally the ropeway loading station was in the Dogsthorpe pit with clay supplied by a narrow gauge (2'6" gauge) tramway, with two buckets on each flat wagon, loco hauled (petrol then diesel Simplexes built by Motor Rail at Bedford).  The final working of this system was 17/8/60, with replacement by conveyor and clay extraction probably transferred at that time to another pit south of the Dogsthorpe Works.  A proportion of the clay was taken directly at Dogsthorpe with the aerial ropeway loading station in the Dogsthorpe Works then supplying only Northam. 

The bucket was built by the light railway engineers Robert Hudson of Gildersome Foundry near Leeds but it is unlikely to be an original. 

The Aerial ropeway is reported to have been replaced by lorry transport shortly before both works closed in January 1990. Dogsthorpe had been opened in 1899 and Northam in 1897.  The pit East of Dogsthorpe had been used for waste tipping from 1972 and site converted into waste transfer station after closure.

This aerial ropeway was surveyed by Cable Belt Ltd of Camberley in June 1986 and report in LBC Archives at Bedford but there is no information if this was the last.  J & K Harris of March were involved in the scrapping of the aerial ropeway system after closure. 

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