Three foot six inch gauge railways in the United Kingdom

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The Little Eaton Gangway in 1908 with the last train of loaded coal wagons. Wagonway.jpg
The Little Eaton Gangway in 1908 with the last train of loaded coal wagons.
Model of a Darlington Corporation Light Railways tramcar at the National Tramway Museum. Darlington Corporation Light Railways tramcar.jpg
Model of a Darlington Corporation Light Railways tramcar at the National Tramway Museum.
The Southport Pier Tramway. Southport Pier Tram.jpg
The Southport Pier Tramway.
The Great Orme Tramway, a street-running funicular. GOT Tram 4 Descending 05-07-17 04.jpeg
The Great Orme Tramway, a street-running funicular.
Horse-drawn slate wagon used on the Nantlle Railway, now preserved at the Welsh Slate Museum. Nantlle Tramway wagon.jpg
Horse-drawn slate wagon used on the Nantlle Railway, now preserved at the Welsh Slate Museum.

One of the first railways using 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge track was the Little Eaton Gangway in England, constructed as a horse-drawn wagonway in 1795. Other 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge wagonways in England and Wales were also built in the early 19th century. Also during this time, numerous tram networks were built in 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge (see table below).

Little Eaton Gangway transport company

The Little Eaton Gangway, or, to give it its official title, the Derby Canal Railway, was a narrow gauge industrial wagonway serving the Derby Canal, in England, at Little Eaton in Derbyshire.


Wagonways consisted of the horses, equipment and tracks used for hauling wagons, which preceded steam-powered railways. The terms plateway, tramway and dramway were used. The advantage of wagonways was that far bigger loads could be transported with the same power.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.













East Sussex



Greater Manchester





  • Southport Pier Tramway (converted to 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) gauge, then converted back to 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge) (defunct)


North Yorkshire







West Midlands

West Sussex

West Yorkshire




See also

Heritage railway railway used for heritage/historical/tourism purposes

A heritage railway is a railway operated as living history to re-create or preserve railway scenes of the past. Heritage railways are often old railway lines preserved in a state depicting a period in the history of rail transport.

2 ft and 600 mm gauge railways in the United Kingdom

A list of 2 ft, 1 ft 11 34 in, 600 mm, and 1 ft 11 12 in narrow-gauge railways in the United Kingdom.

2 ft 6 in gauge railways in the United Kingdom Wikimedia list article

A list of two foot six inch gauge railways in the United Kingdom.

Related Research Articles

Narrow-gauge railway railway with a gauge (distance between rails) less than that of a standard gauge railway

A narrow-gauge railway is a railway with a track gauge narrower than standard 1,435 mm. Most narrow-gauge railways are between 600 mm and 1,067 mm.

Standard-gauge railway rail track gauge – international standard gauge (4′ 8½″)

A standard-gauge railway is a railway with a track gauge of 1,435 mm. The standard gauge is also called Stephenson gauge after George Stephenson, International gauge, UIC gauge, uniform gauge, normal gauge and European gauge in the EU and Russia. It is the most widely used railway track gauge across the world, with approximately 55% of the lines in the world using it. All high-speed rail lines use standard gauge except those in Russia, Finland, Portugal and Uzbekistan. The distance between the inside edges of the rails is defined to be 1435 mm except in the United States, where it is still defined in U.S. customary units as exactly "four feet eight and one half inches".

Broad-gauge railway rail track gauge wider than standard gauge (1435 mm, 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)

A broad-gauge railway is a railway with a track gauge broader than the 1,435 mm standard-gauge railways.

Track gauge spacing of the rails on a railway track

In rail transport, track gauge is the spacing of the rails on a railway track and is measured between the inner faces of the load-bearing rails.

Dual gauge line of track for trains of two separate track gauges

A dual gauge railway is a track that allows the passage of trains of two different track gauges. It is sometimes called a "mixed gauge" track. A dual gauge track consists of three rails. There will be two vital rails, one for each gauge close together and a third rail, a "common" rail further away. Sometimes, four rails are required using two outer and two inner rails to create the dual gauge. Dual gauge is not to be confused with a "third rail" or "check or guard rails".

Break of gauge effects created when rail tracks of differing gauges meet

With railways, a break of gauge occurs where a line of one gauge meets a line of a different gauge. Trains and rolling stock cannot run through without some form of conversion between gauges, and freight and passengers must otherwise be transshipped. A break of gauge adds delays, cost, and inconvenience.

3 ft 6 in gauge railways railways with tracks 1067 mm (3′ 6″) apart

Railways with a track gauge of 3 ft 6 in / 1,067 mm were first constructed as horse-drawn wagonways. From the mid-nineteenth century, the 3 ft 6 in gauge became widespread in the British Empire, and was adopted as a standard in Japan and Taiwan.

5 ft and 1520 mm gauge railways railway gauge

Railways with a railway track gauge of 5 ft were first constructed in the United Kingdom and the United States. This gauge is also commonly called Russian gauge because this gauge was later chosen as the common track gauge for the Russian Empire and its neighbouring countries. The gauge was redefined by Soviet Railways to be 1,520 mm.

Tramway (industrial) type of industrial railway

Tramways are lightly laid railways, sometimes worked without locomotives. The term is not in use in North America but in common use in the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, where British Railway terminology and practices had large influences on management practices, terminology, and railway cultures such as Australia, New Zealand, and those parts of Asia that consulted with British experts when undergoing modernization. In New Zealand, they are commonly known as bush tramways, while in parts of Australia where American experts were influential, the term is less common. They generally do not carry passengers, although staff may make use of them, either officially or unofficially—and are often not meant to be permanent.

Narrow-gauge railways in China

The gauge for the most of the China national railway network is standard gauge. Currently, in the national railway network, only the 1,000 mm metre gauge Kunming–Hai Phong Railway uses narrow gauge. In addition, there are some industrial lines still using narrow gauge, mostly 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge or 600 mm narrow gauge. As of 2003, 600+ km narrow-gauge railways, 50000+ km standard gauge railways, and 9.4 km broad gauge railways were in use in mainland China.

Hay Railway

The Hay Railway (HR) was an early Welsh narrow gauge horse-drawn tramway that connected Eardisley with Watton Wharf on the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal.

Track gauge in Ireland

The track gauge adopted by the mainline railways in Ireland is 5 ft 3 in. This unusual track gauge is otherwise found only in Australia, in the states of Victoria, southern New South Wales and South Australia, as well as in Brazil.

5 ft 3 in gauge railways rail gauge used in Ireland, south eastern Australia, and South America (1600 mm / 5′ 3″)

Railways with track gauge of 5 ft 3 in are broad gauge railways, currently in use in Australia, Brazil and Ireland.

The Royal Commission on Railway Gauges was held in the United Kingdom in 1845 to choose between the Broad Gauge of the Great Western Railway and its allies, and the so-called narrow gauge used by most of the rest of the country. The situation in Ireland where there were three gauges was also considered.

History of rail transport in Namibia

The history of rail transport in Namibia began with a small mining rail line at Cape Cross in 1895. The first major railway project was started in 1897 when the German Colonial Authority built the 600 mm gauge Staatsbahn from Swakopmund to Windhoek. By 1902 the line was completed.

Numerous industrial narrow-gauge lines were built for peat extraction, clay extraction for brickworks and construction sites. The dominant gauge for industrial lines was 700 mm, contrary to the 600 mm gauge used in neighbouring countries.

Narrow-gauge railways in Norway

In Norway, a number of main lines were in the 19th century built with narrow gauge, 3 ft 6 in, to save cost in a sparsely populated mountainous country. This included Norway's first own long-distance line, the Røros Line, connecting Oslo and Trondheim, 1877. Some secondary railways also had this gauge. These railways have been rebuilt to standard gauge or closed down. Some private railways had 750 mm and one had 1,000 mm. A few railways partly still are operated as museum railways, specifically the Thamshavn Line, Urskog–Høland Line and the Setesdal Line. The Trondheim Tramway is also narrow gauge.

Europe inherited a diversity of rail gauges. Extensive narrow-gauge railway networks exist in Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Eastern Europe.

Numerous narrow-gauge railway lines were built in [Oceania, most in 3 ft 6 in, 2 ft 6 in and 2 ft track gauge.