It’s a surprise to find rail tracks across the boulders on Monmouth Beach in Lyme Regis, Dorset. It seems such an unlikely setting. However, this fascinating Jurassic Coast seashore, which is famous for its fossils and geology, was once a hive of industry – with the rocks being exploited commercially in a big way.
A cement works was established early in the 19th century by a Mrs Eleanor Coade who lived at Belmont House in Lyme Regis. A cement factory with kilns existed on Monmouth Beach from 1850 to 1914. At first, only loose boulders of Blue Lias limestone from the seashore were used in the process. At a later date, explosives were used to bring down more rock from the cliffs above. The railway line was constructed to shift the rocks across the beach.
For more information about the geology and associated history of this stretch of beach at Lyme Regis, I strongly recommend that interested readers should look at Ian West’s excellent web site for a comprehensive account of this locality.
The first time I noticed the rusty iron rails several years ago, the track was mostly obscured by boulders, cobbles, and weed. More recently, the remains of this old track have become more exposed – with a thinning of the hitherto overlying rocks. The concrete seatings for the rail have largely lifted and separated from their bases. Lengths of parallel iron rail move across the shore; single pieces of rail are shifted by the tides. It seems as if the track is rapidly breaking up and dispersing.
The photographs below show some of the remaining pieces of this rusty relic from a bye-gone age.
A Post from the Past