Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways
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Briqueteries du Nord
Gauge : 600mm 
Status : Reported ceased in 2003

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

(Click on images for full size picture)
Around the locality of Lille, this firm still operate two 600mm narrow gauge railways for the transport of clay. The brickworks at Leers is operated on a seasonal basis, and is only in production throughout the summer months. In 1996, 4 locos were present on the site, of which only 2 were in working.  
Although 2 of the locos had been rebuilt, and were rather lacking in character, Two locos were still in near original condition, but out of use. One was found under the the drying sheds, raised on blocks. All the locomotives here were built by Whitcomb.  
The clay pit is situated alongside the brickworks, and so the actual running line is less than 0.25km long. A second abandoned clay pit at the back of the works still has track to it, and is used, but only for dumping now.  
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 run around the back of the brickworks and then reverse 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 rest of the system  
The technology here has not changed for many years, and the newly formed bricks are manually loaded onto trolleys, and hand pushed to the drying sheds for stacking. The network of tracks around the drying sheds is physically connected to the line which runs to the clay pits, but locos appear only to be used to and from the clay pit.
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 2004
Upgraded site relaunched 1st January 2004

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Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways