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Briqueteries de Ploegsteert
Ploegsteert
Belgium  
Gauge : 600mm 
Status : Replaced by conveyor belt July 2001.  
 
This was the last known brickworks in Belgium using a narrow gauge railway.  
 
 
(Click on images for full size picture)
Surprisingly, this railway was only 'discovered' by enthusiasts in the last few years. It was situated on the French/Belgian border just outside Ploegsteert. It had 5 Moes built locos numbered 6001 to 6005, plus a Ruston loco. Each was painted a different colour. No.6002 is seen at the brickworks discharging clay into one of three unloading sheds.
 
No. 6004 is seen on the way out to the clay pit with a train of new skips.The locos ran with 10 skips in front and ten skips at the back, with the driver standing by the cab. The total length of the line, out and back was probably about 1km.  
The railway to the claypit was double tracked to facilitate the high volume of trains which run here. Upto 4 locos and 80 skips could be in use at the same time.  
There are several disused pits in the area, some of which are now flooded. The current pit in 1998 when these pictures were taken had a large working face, and was excavated by a huge bucket and chain excavator. It took less than 10 minutes to load the train of twenty skips, and before it was loaded, another train was often arriving behind the first.  
The cabs on the locos are unusually low and the reason for this can be seen here. The whole train, including the loco had to pass under the loading chute of the excavator. There were 4 or 5 workers required to assist with the loading process.  
The green loco was No 6005. None of the locos had been found to possess works plates, so consequently little is known yet about their history.
 
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Steve Thomason 2004
Upgraded site relaunched 1st January 2004

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