Lea engineering firm to hold open day for train lovers

Patrick Keef with a Russell train that has since made its way to North Wales. 1431_1001Photo: James Maggs.

Patrick Keef with a Russell train that has since made its way to North Wales. 1431_1002Photo: James Maggs.

A Russell train that has since made its way to North Wales. 1431_1003Photo: James Maggs.

Patrick Keef fitting copper pipes to the engine 1431_1004Photo: James Maggs.

Alan Keef Ltd in Lea where they restore narrow gauge rail engines & build trains from scratch. 1431_1005 Photo: James Maggs.

Alan Keef Ltd in Lea where they restore narrow gauge rail engines & build trains from scratch. 1431_1006 Photo: James Maggs.

Controls inside the cab of the train. 1431_1007Photo: James Maggs.

First published in News by

TRAIN enthusiasts from across the world are set to descend on a village near Ross-on-Wye next month.

Alan Keef Ltd, a light railway engineer and locomotive building firm from Lea, will be opening its doors to the public from 11am on September 20.

Last year, around 500 people visited the factory, with enthusiasts coming from as far as Brisbane in Australia.

The firm, which was set up in 1970, works on all sort of railways and locomotives and has restored many trains from scratch.

It turned over £1.2million last year and has even carried out work for Blenheim Palace as well as the Duke of Westminster Estate in Chester.

Managing director Patrick Keef said: "We had 500 come last year from Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland and even Brisbane."

"The success of the open days mainly comes from word of mouth."

Visitors will be able to have a ride on some of the trains, as well as look at some of the projects undertaken at the site.

The firm has been situated in Lea since 1986 after it was previously based in Oxfordshire.

It has rebuilt countless number of steam, diesel and electric trains, and undertaken many contracts for European companies.

It has recently restored a Russell locomotive for the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, while a Northumberland steam train is due to be on display next month.

Engineers have also been busy building a mini diesel locomotive for Norfolk based Wells Harbour Railway and are due to undertake a major project for a Belgian firm.

"We have done a lot over the years, but my proudest achievement was probably a replica Steam Elephant for the British Museum in 2002 then a Puffing Billy two years later," said Mr Keef.

"My father started it as a hobby and it just snowballed."

Admission to the open day will be £5 for adults and £1.50 for children, with proceeds going towards the village church and St Michael's Hospice.

Comments (1)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

6:13pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Gnomie says...

It is to be hoped that this hugely-impressive business will remain in Lea along with the jobs it has brought to the village and that its plans for expansion will not be hampered by an application for outline planning permission to build 44 houses on agricultural land next door to it. If this ill-advised scheme is approved then you can bet that the owners of these new homes will soon start complaining about the noise and odour generated by the factory; even though the impact of this well-run company on the surrounding environment is minimal. Looking more like a suburban housing estate imported from Birmingham or Manchester incidentally than something that is likely to sit well in a Herefordshire village, the scheme is likely to worsen the problems Lea already faces with its decrepit surface water drainage system and sewers and lead to even more traffic clogging up the already-busy A40. I have no connection with Alan Keef, but I would rather see jobs preserved than yet another identikit housing plan approved.
It is to be hoped that this hugely-impressive business will remain in Lea along with the jobs it has brought to the village and that its plans for expansion will not be hampered by an application for outline planning permission to build 44 houses on agricultural land next door to it. If this ill-advised scheme is approved then you can bet that the owners of these new homes will soon start complaining about the noise and odour generated by the factory; even though the impact of this well-run company on the surrounding environment is minimal. Looking more like a suburban housing estate imported from Birmingham or Manchester incidentally than something that is likely to sit well in a Herefordshire village, the scheme is likely to worsen the problems Lea already faces with its decrepit surface water drainage system and sewers and lead to even more traffic clogging up the already-busy A40. I have no connection with Alan Keef, but I would rather see jobs preserved than yet another identikit housing plan approved. Gnomie
  • Score: 5
Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree