Category Archives: Some Early Lines

Posts about lines and branches which ceased operations – some restored, some sadly lost for ever.

Some Early Lines – Inchicore Railway Works

Some Early Lines

Inchicore Railway Works

Inchicore Book

Last year the Museum had a visitor from Dublin, a relative of a friend in the Cannock area.  Unfortunately, it was not a running day but I showed him round and we took a walk along the canal beneath the dam.  I told him that we were going to set up a reference library sometime in the future (any specialised railway books would be welcome) and when he got home he donated a copy of this book on the Inchicore Railway Works to the Museum.  Thank you Andrew.

Located five kilometres due west of the city centre, Inchicore lies south of the River Liffey, west of Kilmainham, north of Drimnagh and east of Ballyfermot. The majority of Inchicore is in the Dublin 8 postal district. Portions of Inchicore extend into the Dublin 10 and Dublin 12 postal districts.

The townlands of Inchicore North and Inchicore South are located in the civil parish of St. James, Dublin, in the Barony of Uppercross.

Inchicore Railway Works is the headquarters for mechanical engineering and rolling stock maintenance for Iarnród Éireann. Established in 1844 by the Great Southern & Western Railway, it is the largest engineering complex of its kind in Ireland with a site area of 295,000 m² (73 acres). CIÉ also builds bus coaches for its fleets at the Spa Road coach works.

The Inchicore Railway Works were established in 1846 by the Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&WR) as its main engineering works, the first payroll is dated the 24th of April 1846 and amounted to £83. 12s. 9d. At that time there were 39 men employed, but at its peak there were over 2000.

461 Inchicore open day 68461 at an Inchicore open day in 1968. CIÉ staff have painted her up as DSER 15, in black with red lining. In DSER days she did not have the distinctive Inchicore style smokebox – and the white-wall tyres are a very un-Irish feature apparently added in a fit of creative passion. In the background is GNR(I) No.131. (CP Friel)

 The original running shed was built throughout of limestone and was designed by Sancton Wood who also designed Heuston Station. With its castellated walls and tower and gothic appearance it was architecturally a very picturesque building.

The “Works” are located 3km west of Heuston Station and covers a site of approximately 73 acres. It’s still the main engineering works for Iarnrod Eireann, maintaining the large fleet of diesel locomotives and rolling stock.

This video from youtube shows the Inchicore Open Day of 1958.  Health and Safety were rather different in those days!!



Some Early Lines Narrow Gauge USA Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Some Early Lines

Narrow gauge USA

All Aboard! Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Durango and Silverton NG Railroad

For 130 continuous years coal-fired steam engines have powered up the narrow gauge tracks that connect Durango, Colorado to Silverton. Originally constructed to haul workers to, and precious metals back from, gold and silver mines in the San Juan Mountains, the line now operates exclusively for the benefit of tourists.

Pulling restored 1880-era passenger cars, the locomotive winds along 45 miles of the Animas River as it climbs to Silverton’s 9,035 feet elevation. During its three-hour trip, the train clings to canyon walls, passes waterfalls, and gives views of 14,000 foot peaks that are often topped with year-round snow.

Is it any wonder the Society of American Travel Writers chose it as one of the World’s Top 10 Train Rides.

USA_6764Photo by David Jackson

 The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) is a narrow gauge heritage railroad that operates 45 miles (72 km) of 3 ft (914 mm) track between Durango and Silverton, in the US state of Colorado. The railway is a federally designated National Historic Landmark and is also designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

The route was originally built between 1881 and 1882, by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, in order to carry supplies and people to and silver and gold ore from mines in the San Juan Mountains. The line was an extension of the D&RG narrow gauge from Antonito, Colorado to Durango. The last train to operate into Durango from the east was on December 6, 1968. The States of New Mexico and Colorado purchased 64 miles of the line between Antonito and Chama, New Mexico in 1970 and operates today as the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The trackage between Chama and Durango was abandoned and rails were removed by 1971.

The line from Durango to Silverton has run continuously since 1881, although it is now a tourist and heritage line hauling passengers, and is one of the few places in the United States which has seen continuous use of steam locomotives. In March 1981, the Denver & Rio Grande Western sold the line and the D&SNG was formed.

Some of the rolling stock dates back to the 1880s. The trains run from Durango to the Cascade Wye in the winter months and run from Durango to Silverton during the summer months. The depot in Durango was built in January 1882 and has been preserved in original form.

USA_7158Photo by David Jackson

Some Early Lines – Perth and Fife Lines

Some Early Lines

Perth and Fife Lines


Once the Scottish compounds had been displaced from main line duties many of them were relegated to easier branch lines, though with their 6’ 9” driving wheels they could scarcely be considered ideal engines for this class of work.  1924-built No. 40939 with reduced boiler mountings nears Collessie with the evening train from Ladybank to Perth.  (W.J.V.Anderson


In 1924 many of the best Scottish expresses were being handled by the new ‘D11 2’ 4-4-0 type, which was a GC ‘Director’ modified to suit the Scottish loading gauge; all carried names painted on the splashers.  No. 62677 Edie Ochiltree nears Lumphinnans Junction on the 5.45pm Thornton to Dunfermline train on 8th August, 1959.  (W.J.V.Anderson


Somehow the BR lined black livery seemed to suit the Pickerskill 4-4-0s of the ex-Caledonian Railway.  No. 54476, one of the older Pickerskill engines, introduced in 1916, makes her way from Crieff to Gleneagles with the evening train. (W.J.V.Anderson and North Fife Railway

An alternative southern route between Perth and Dundee. It was used by the North British Railway; the more direct route north of the Tay belonged to the rival Caledonian Railway. Much of the trackbed has gone now, returned to farmland, but this cutting is still pretty obvious.  © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines Glasgow and South Western Railway

Some Early Lines

Glasgow and South Western Railway


Locale:  Scotland  Dates of operation:  1850–1923  Predecessor:  Glasgow, Paisley Kilmarnock and Ayr and Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railways  Successor:  London, Midland and Scottish Railway  Track gauge:  4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)  Length:  1,128 miles (1,815 km)  Headquarters: Glasgow

DC 1‘Crab’ No.42879 crosses the graceful Dalrymple viadust on the Ayr – Dalmellington branch with empty wagons for the mines at Waterside.  (Derek Cross

The Glasgow and South Western Railway (G&SWR) was a railway company in Scotland. It served a triangular area of south-west Scotland between Glasgow, Stranraer and Carlisle. It took its name after a merger in 1850. In the 1923 grouping of Britain’s railways the G&SWR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

DC 2Class 2P 4-4-0 No.40647 passes the site of Greenen Station, on the Ayr-Dunure-Girvan line in September, 1952, hauling an Ayr-Heads of Ayr train.  Passenger services were withdrawn before the war but freight, mostly early potato traffic, continued up till 1951, when the line was closed completely beyond Heads of Ayr and the track lifted.  The remaining section was relaid with heavier rail and remained in use to serve Butlin’s Camp.  (Derek Cross

The main line ran from Glasgow along the west coast and to Gretna. The G&SWR also served Paisley, Greenock, Ardrossan, Troon and the ports on the west coast, between which it ran scheduled steamship services. It also owned the harbours at Troon and Ayr. Its headquarters were at Glasgow St Enoch station and its main locomotive works was at Kilmarnock. In 1921 the G&SWR had 1,128 miles (1,815 km) of line and the company’s capital was about £19 million.

WAC 1One-time Caledonian Railway 0-4-4 tank (then LMS No.15236) leaves Lugton with the 6.40pm train for Beith on the Caledonian and Glasgow & South Western Joint Line.  (W.A.Camwell

The G&SWR, in association with the Midland Railway, provided a third Anglo-Scottish rail route, the first two being the West Coast and East Coast main lines. It was as a result of involvement with the Midland that the design of Glasgow St Enoch station was heavily influenced by London St Pancras.

WAC 2In 1949 Midland 4-4-0s were still in charge of G&SW branches.  Two trains stand in Holehouse Junction on 18th June; that on the left from Ayr to Dalmellington behind Class 2 4-4-0 No.40647; and that on the right, with compound 4-4-0 No.41132, from Dalmellington to Rankinston, Annbabk and Ayr.  (W.A.Camwell

WAC 3South West Scotland is very reminiscent of Northern Ireland, and Class 2 4-4-0 No.40609, still with Midland-type chimney, standing in Dalmellington station could easily be a Northern Counties Committee ‘Castle’ class 4-4-0.  It is the 18th June, 1949.  (W.A.Camwell

Some Early Lines – Waveney Valley Line

Some Early Lines

Waveney Valley Line

Showing the route of the Waveney Valley Line railway

Date 2 May 2009 (original upload date)

Source Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Kafuffle using CommonsHelper.  Author Openstreetmap and contributors. Original uploader was PeterEastern at en.wikipedia

 The Waveney Valley Line was a branch line running from Tivetshall in Norfolk to Beccles in Suffolk connecting the Great Eastern Main Line at Tivetshall with the East Suffolk Line at Beccles. It provided services to Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Ipswich and many other smaller towns in Suffolk with additional services to London. It was named after the River Waveney which follows a similar route.

Harleston Station

Date 12 July 2005   Source From  Author Ron Strutt Permission  Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0


The line was authorised by the Waveney Valley Railway Act on 3 July 1851. The line opened in stages, firstly from Tivetshall to Harleston on 1 December 1855, then to Bungay on 2 November 1860, and finally to Beccles. When the line was completed it was incorporated into the Great Eastern Railway. The line then became part of the LNER on 1 January 1923.The Waveney Valley Line – Pulham Market Station

This view was taken in south-easterly direction, looking along the station platform and the dismantled trackbed of the line. The station building can be seen in mid-distance.

 Originally the platform had a length of 99 feet (30 metres). It was extended by 30 feet in 1885 and lengthened again in 1892.  The Waveney Valley Line ran from a junction with the London to Norwich mainline at Tivetshall > Link – Link servicing the market towns of Harleston,, Bungay and Beccles, where it connected with the East Suffolk line to Yarmouth. The line was opened between 1855 and 1863 but its first stations (Starston > Link and Redenhall) were closed as early as 1866. The passenger service was eventually withdrawn in 1953. Freight services were but back in 1960 and in 1966 the line was closed. Part of its route – between Harleston and Broome – has since been taken over by the realigned A143 road.  © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Starston and Redenhall stations were closed in 1866, only 11 years after the line opened.

The line was closed to passenger services on 5 January 1953. With the last passenger train from Tivetshall junction to Beccles pulled by Class F3 2-4-2 tank locomotive No 67128.

A Light Railway Order was obtained in November 1954, after which there were some special services run by railway enthusiasts.

J15 class 0-6-0 No. 65471 with cab tarpaulin out takes a sugar beet train up the Waveney Valley Line of the Great Eastern Railway near Homersfield. – Dr. Ian C.Allen

From 1960 the line was split into sections – Tivetshall to Harleston and Beccles to Bungay.

The lines were finally closed from 19 April 1966 during the Beeching Axe and the track eventually removed. Some of the last wagon loads to leave Ditchingham were sand and gravel from Broome Heath, used in the construction of Hammersmith fly-over in west London.

In the early 1980s, many of the remaining old buildings, including stations and goods yards, were demolished to make way for a new road.

The Waveney Valley Line – view north-west along dismantled trackbed

Here the line passed a crossing cottage .  © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines The Stoke Ferry Line and the Wissington Light Railway

Some Early Lines

The Stoke Ferry line and the Wissington Light Railway

Stoke Ferry Station c 1900

The Stoke Ferry line ….opened, the 1st August, 1882.

The first train of the day would leave Stoke Ferry’s single platform at 8.30a.m. and then work to and from Downham, eventually arriving back at Stoke Ferry with the last train at 6.21 p.m. The passenger service disappeared as early as 1930 but the line still functions for traffic to and from the BSC factory at Abbey.

The Wissington Light Railway started its life just after the turn of the century as a sort of cross between an oversize private siding and a farm railway. It was severely damaged by floods when the Little Ouse broke its banks in 1915 but when the sugar beet factory was opened in 1925 the railway was acquired under a long lease and was nearly doubled in length with the specific object of providing transport facilities for sugar beet from areas which were not easily accessible by road. At this time there was 18 miles of track, one locomotive and nearly 100 wagons.

At the height of its development the light railway served over 30 loading points and even as late as 1954 carried nearly 25,000 tons of traffic. Its main function was the carriage of sugar beet to the factory and of agricultural traffic generally to and from the main line railway. From the Wissington factory the light railway headed south towards Larmans Fen with passing loops at Barretts, Cross Road Junction, Decoy and Poppylot siding. A branch from Cross Road Junction headed towards Hemplands, serving Halfway, Severals Siding and terminating at Common Dyke Loop. After Martingales Siding the main line divided into two with one arm passing through Methwold Fens and the other veering southwards towards Feltwell.

The Methwold arm terminated near the bank of the Ouse midway between Ferry Bank Farm and Flint House Farm. En route it came by way of Larmans, Six Oaks, Poppylot Farm, Fourscore, Wannage and Sedge Fen Farm, having also a short branch to Bourne. In the other direction there were three arms. The first ran from Cross Bank via Spinney to Anchor Sidings. The second left the main tributary at Black Drain and served Glead Farm and Old and New Shrub Hill in Feltwell Fen. The remaining arm ran via Corkway, Spencers, Whitedyke and Felt Road Siding to Whitedyke Farm. In all, quite a complicated system.

The Ministry of Agriculture requisitioned the line with effect from the 24th August, 1941 in view of the importance of wartime food production.

…it continued to serve a useful existence until the end finally came on the 1st July, 1957, when the Ministry ceased to operate a service. Thus, after a full life, the light railway was replaced by road transport leaving the Stoke Ferry branch to go on dealing with its freight trains in the area of the Wissey.    Geoffrey Body

The Wissington Light Railway began at a little place called Abbey on the Stoke ferry branch of the one-time Great Eastern Railway.  It was built without Act of Parliament or Light railway Order and ran through the fens to Wissington and Methwold.  The line was reconditioned in 1942 after being taken over by the minister of Agriculture under War Emergency powers.  The service was maintained by the British Sugar Corporation.  The line was closed on 30th June 1957, except for the section from Abbey to the sugar beet factory at Wissington.  Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST works No. 1700 (built in 1938) picks up a truck of potatoes from a road side siding in May, 1957. (Dr. Ian C. Allen)

Some Early Lines – Chard Branch Line

Some Early Lines

Chard Branch Line

The 4.45pm Taunton – Chard Central slides out of Hatch, headed by 7436, on June 9, 1961.   M.J.Fox

The Chard Branch Lines were two railway lines in Somerset, England, that met end on in Chard. The first was opened in 1863 by the London and South Western Railway as a short branch line from their main line. This approached the town from the south. The second and longer line was opened by the Bristol and Exeter Railway in 1866 and ran northwards from Chard to join their main line near Taunton.

From 1917 they were both operated by one company, but services were mostly advertised as though it was still two separate lines. It was closed to passengers in 1962 and freight traffic was withdrawn a few years later.

Chard Central.  9718, with two derelict looking coaches, leaves the weed-choked platform with the 4.07pm for Chard Junction in 1961.  M.J.Fox


 The local railway network

The London and South Western Railway (LSWR) opened its first station serving Chard at ‘Chard Road’ in 1860 on its new Yeovil and Exeter Railway. The Chard Railway Company was established in 1859 and work started on the branch line from Chard Road to the town on 1 November 1860. The following March the LSWR agreed to purchase the company, a deal that was completed in 1864. The line was opened to the terminus at Chard Town on 8 May 1863 (the original station was renamed ‘Chard Junction’ in 1872).

Chard had been connected to Taunton in 1842 by the Chard Canal but early proposals to convert the canal into a railway line failed to materialise. Instead the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) opened a line parallel to the canal on 11 September 1866 using powers initially granted to a Chard and Taunton Railway Company by an Act of Parliament in 1861. In the following year the B&ER purchased the little-used canal for £6,000 and closed it. The B&ER line was single track and connected a new ‘Chard station’, to the B&ER’s main line at Creech St Michael. Intermediate stations were situated at Hatch and Ilminster, but another was opened at Thorn in 1871.

3787 on an early morning Taunton – Chard train leaving Thornfalcon in June 1962.  M.J.Fox

The LSWR was built to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge but the B&ER was a 7 ft 0 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge line until 19 July 1891 when it was converted to standard gauge. Other branch lines around Taunton had been converted between 1879 and 1882 but the Great Western Railway (GWR, which had amalgamated with the B&ER in 1876) left the Chard branch as a broad gauge line to prevent the LSWR requesting access to Taunton. The LSWR extended its line to the B&ER station two months after it had opened and it was then operated as a joint station. During World War I the GWR undertook to work the line from Chard Joint station to Chard Junction station from 1 January 1917, although separate signal boxes were maintained until 1928.

In 1923 the LSWR was itself merged into the new Southern Railway (SR). Two additional stations were opened in 1928 on the GWR section. Both railways were nationalised in 1948 but were initially managed as two separate regions – the GWR becoming the Western Region and the SR became the Southern Region. A fuel shortage in 1951 led to the line being temporarily closed from 3 February to 7 May. Eleven years later passenger services were withdrawn permanently on 10 September 1962 and the line closed completely between Creech and Chard on 6 July 1964. Public goods traffic was retained at Chard until 1966.

3787 climbs throatily out of Ilminster with a train bound for Chard in March 1962.  M.J.Fox

Some Early Lines – Narrow Gauge Great Orme Tramway

Some Early Lines – Narrow gauge

Great Orme Tramway

Lower terminus of Great Orme Tramway.  © Copyright Duncan and Gareth Alderson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The Great Orme Tramway (Welsh: Tramffordd y Gogarth) is a cable-hauled 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge tramway in Llandudno in north Wales.

This is Great Britain’s only remaining cable operated street tramway and one of only three surviving in the world. It takes passengers from Llandudno Victoria Station to just below the summit of the Great Orme headland. Operation of the tramway differs from the better-known San Francisco system in that it is not a cable car but rather a street running funicular (similar to the Lisbon system), where the cars are permanently fixed to the cable, and are stopped and started by stopping and starting the cable. As one car is ascending, the other is descending, and they meet midway. The tramway was opened on two stages: the lower section on 31 July 1902 and the upper on 8 July 1903. The two sections operate independently, with two cars on each section which are mechanically separate.

Llandudno – Great Orme Tramway

The tramway starts in the town and goes all the way to the summit of the Great Orme. This photo is about half way back down, where the tram re enters the built up areas.  © Copyright Paul Allison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The lower section is built on or alongside the public road and has gradients as steep as 1 in 3.8. The cable on this section lies below the road surface in a conduit between the rails. The bottom half of the section is single track, but above the passing loop it has interlaced double track. In comparison, the upper section is less steep, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 10, and is single track apart from a short double track passing loop equipped with Abt type points to accommodate the cable. The original power house, at the Halfway station between the lower and upper sections, was equipped with winding gear powered by steam from coke-fired boilers. This was replaced in 1958 by electrically powered apparatus. In 2001, the entire Halfway station, its control room and its power plant were completely rebuilt and re-equipped.

Passing Loop, Lower Section, Great Orme Tramway

This shows the rails at the lower section passing loop of the tramway. The cars are permanently attached to the cable, which runs beneath the slot in the centre rail. The overhead wire and trolley are used only for communication purposes and do not supply electrical power.  © Copyright Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The tramway uses four tramcars, in service since 1902. An overhead wire telegraph was formerly used for communication between the tram and the engineer-driver in charge of winding the drum, and has been replaced with an induction-loop radio-control system.

The tramway has three main stations, the lower station named “Victoria” after the hotel that formerly occupied the station site, the middle one aptly named ‘Halfway’, and the Great Orme Summit station. Passengers must change trams at the Halfway station.

The Summit Complex , Great Orme

The Summit Complex sits at the top of the Great Orme in Llandudno. The building was originally known as “the Telegraph Inn.” The Complex houses a gift shop, cafe bars and restaurants. The Summit can be reached by tramway, cable car and by road. During the World War two the hotel was used for signalling purposes and became RAF Great Orme Radar Station.  © Copyright john driscoll and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Great Orme Tramway

Taken from the tram barn at the halfway station.  © Copyright Chris Andrews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

   The Great Orme Experience

So much to see – The view from the Great Orme’s 679ft (207m) summit are breathtaking- from Snowdonia and Anglesey, all the way to to the Isle of Man, Blackpool and the Lake District.

So much to discover – The Great Orme is a wonderland of nature and history. Look out for the two varieties of butterfly which are unique to the area, the wild Kashmir goats and the rare flowers.

Explore the headland’s amazing Bronze Age copper mines, the Iron Age fort and the Stone Age remains. Visit the 6th century St Tudno’s Church. Or simply breathe in the fresh air and beauty.

The Great Orme Tramway

The Great Orme Tramway was built in 1902 to take passengers from Llandudno to and from the summit of the Great Orme. It is Britain’s only remaining cable operated street tramway and one of only three surviving in the world.  The tramway uses four tramcars, all of which have been in service since 1902.   © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Verney Junction

Some early Lines

Verney Junction

 Station site in 2005, stationmaster’s house to the right. As of April 2007 the view was much the same – rails are intact (save for some 60–100 foot segments near Bletchley) but low weeds are growing on much of the line between Bicester and Bletchley. This image was taken from the Geograph project collection.  See this photograph’s page on the Geograph website for the photographer’s contact details. The copyright on this image is owned by Hywel Williams and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


Original company Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway and Great Western Railway (1868–1891)

Pre-grouping Metropolitan Railway (1891–1906) and Great Central Railway (1899–1906)

Metropolitan & Great Central Joint Committee (1906–1923)

Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway (1923–1948)

Eastern Region of British Railways (1948–1962)

London Midland Region of British Railways (1962–1968)

Platforms 3


23 September 1868 Opened

6 July 1936 Metropolitan passenger services withdrawn

6 January 1964 Closed to goods

1 January 1968 Closed to passengers

One of the L&NWR Cauliflower Class 0-6-0s which throughout their long career were frequently to be seen on passenger trains.  At Verney Junction in 1936, with an Oxford – Cambridge cross-country local, – H.C.Casserley.

Verney Junction was a railway station at a junction serving four directions between 1868 and 1968 and from where excursions as far as Ramsgate could be booked. Situated fifty miles from Baker Street, the station is one of London’s disused Underground stations and, although it never carried heavy traffic, it was important in the expansion of the Metropolitan Railway into what became Metro-land.


Verney Junction opened in 1868 as northern terminus of the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway’s (A&BR) single track from Aylesbury. The station was at a junction with the London and North Western Railway’s (LNWR) Bletchley to Oxford line, 1.75 miles (2.82 km) east of Steeple Claydon, and constructed to a rudimentary design at the cost of the A&BR, whose progress it viewed with disfavour.

Plans to extend the railway north to Buckingham never materialised and Verney Junction remained remote with a few cottages for tenants of Claydon House estate. Claydon’s occupant, Sir Harry Verney, was on the board of the A&BR which was chaired by the Duke of Buckingham, and he invested heavily in the scheme. There being no settlement from which the station could take its name, it was named in honour of Sir Harry, who was later to have another nearby station – Calvert – named after him; he had been born Harry Calvert, and took the surname Verney in order to inherit his late cousin’s estates in 1827.

Early years

The A&BR initially began advertising services to and from Banbury, Oxford and Bletchley but the LNWR attempted to isolate the A&BR by encouraging passengers to take its longer route to Aylesbury via Bletchley and Cheddington. The A&BR turned to the Great Western Railway (GWR), with whom it managed Aylesbury,) to agree to services over the GWR’s Wycombe Railway; the Wycombe line was converted to standard gauge on 23 October 1868 and A&BR services were reinstated.

The GWR worked the A&BR for more than 20 years, turning down the chance to acquire it in 1874, although for the first six years the route was operated by the A&BR’s own staff, except for footplate crews who were GWR employees. Traffic was initially “almost non-existent” due to Verney Junction’s rural locality, but the Metropolitan Railway under the influence of Sir Edward Watkin nevertheless saw an opportunity for growth and absorbed the A&BR on 1 July 1891. The A&BR would be the line that the London Extension of Watkin’s Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) would meet at Quainton Road. In anticipation of the connection, the A&BR was doubled by 1897 and the Metropolitan extended its line from Chalfont Road to Aylesbury in 1892.

Verney Junction, on the old LNWR line from Bletchley to Oxford, was also the meeting of lines from Banbury (LNWR) and the Met./GC from Quainton Road and all points south.  Webb 2-4-2 radial tank No.6704 from Banbury passes Metropolitan 4-4-4 tank No.107 on 2nd May, 1936. – H.C.Casserley

Decline and closure

Although the two World Wars brought an increase in freight traffic from Verney Junction to London, with considerable volumes of freight passing through the station’s transfer sidings, the post-war period saw a decline in the station’s fortunes. The closure of the Aylesbury-Verney section by the LPTB in 1936, severing the connection to Buckingham, was followed by the removal of one of the line’s tracks on 28 January 1940. In the same year, freight traffic through Verney Junction was substantially diminished by the construction on 14 September 1940 of a connecting spur between the LNWR and GCR lines at Calvert which enabled freight from the Oxford-Bletchley route to work south over the Great Central Main Line without having to pass over the Verney Junction-Quainton Road section.

By the end of 1940, Verney Junction was effectively left “severed from its purpose”,having little usefulness other than as a rural interchange for local services. It played a useful part in the transfer of goods between the interconnecting lines, but passenger traffic declined in the face of the availability of more direct routes to and from Banbury and Oxford. Goods services were withdrawn in 1964, with passenger services following in 1968.

After closure, the track on the northern section of the A&BR between Verney Junction and Winslow Road was retained until the early 1960s, including the former Metropolitan sidings which were subsequently used for storing veteran railway vehicles.

Here, the course of the Quainton Road to Verney Junction branch (now lifted) can be seen running in parallel with the main line railway (now also disused) just outside Verney Junction station.  © Copyright Hywel Williams and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Some Early Lines – Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway

Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway

  This view of the Headstone Viaduct across Monsal Dale typifies the country through which the line passed.  Date 31 March 2009. Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Mato using CommonsHelper.  Author Rob Bendall (Highfields)

 Sketch map of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Railway and connections

The various routes followed by the Midland into Manchester

The Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway ran from a junction with the Midland Railway at Ambergate to Rowsley north of Matlock and thence to Buxton.

In time it would become part of the Midland Railway’s main line between London and Manchester, but it was initially planned as a route from Manchester to the East of England, via the proposed Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston and Eastern Junction Railway which would meet it a little further north along the North Midland line at Ambergate. The Act for a line from just south of Stockport to Ambergate was passed in 1846.

Kirtley Goods No.2777 in the picturesque setting of England’s ‘Little Switzerland’.

Ambergate to Rowsley

The initial plan was for the line to proceed from Ambergate where the ANB&EJR terminated, through Matlock and Buxton to a junction with the Manchester and Birmingham Railway just south of Stockport which would allow it to run into Manchester. It received Parliamentary Assent in 1846.

The line opened as far as Rowsley in 1849, but went no further, having run out of money giving its promoters something of a problem.

Matlock Bath had long been a tourist town. Since the station at Ambergate had been opened, tourists had been brought in by coach and canal. Around thirty coaches had passed that way each day, with sixty or seventy thousand visitors going on to Chatsworth House. The aim then was to develop the trade further.

The Midland Railway had held shares in the line since it had been first proposed in 1845, its interest being an extension onto its route to London. The Manchester and Birmingham had for some time been looking for a route of its own, and had considered a line through the Churnet Valley (later built by the North Staffordshire Railway), but had instead supported the alternative Matlock route with a substantial shereholding. However in 1846 it had merged with other lines to become the LNWR, which clearly could not contemplate a competing London line. In 1852 the two companies agreed to lease the line jointly for 19 years, In addition, the Midland would work the line and pay a rent on it, and also take over the Cromford Canal.

Excursion Train near Miller’s Dale leaving Clee Tor tunnel on Easter Monday, 1956.

Rowsley to Buxton

In 1853, a junction was made to the southern end of the Cromford and High Peak Railway now LNWR-owned, at High Peak Junction, and with the latter’s support, the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway connected Manchester to the northern end. In 1857, with the LNWR’s barely concealed support, the SD&WBR then gained permission to extend to Buxton. It did so by a roundabout route along a massive escarpment to the east of the Goyt Valley, such that it could never become a through express route. Nevertheless, in 1860, the Midland gained permission to build a line from Rowsley to meet it at Buxton.

It was the first time the Midland had built in such difficult terrain, with steep hills and deep valleys, Buxton itself being some 1000 feet above sea level. The line followed the River Wye as far as Bakewell, with the complication of the cut and cover Haddon Tunnel, and reached Hassop in 1862 There then followed two viaducts – at Millers Dale and Monsal Dale – and eight tunnels, reaching Buxton in 1863  at almost the same time as the LNWR reached it from Whaley Bridge.

All this time passengers were having to change at Ambergate, but in the same year, the Midland added a south-facing junction and moved the station to allow through travel from Derby and the south. However, there was still the problem of the joint control of the line.

For many years, the town of Wirksworth had been campaigning for a branch line from Duffield. The CH&PR was interested, but had insufficient funds. The Midland was initially unenthusiastic, but then realised that the branch could be extended to Rowsley, avoiding the section to Ambergate, being unsure about what might occur when joint lease expired in 1871.

However, the LNWR gave up its share of the line when the lease expired. It was, after all, remote and isolated from the company’s main system. The Midland was therefore relieved of the necessity of extending from Wirksworth over a very difficult piece of terrain. The branch opened to Wirksworth in 1867 but was not carried further.

Blackwell Mill, Miller’s Dale in 1932, showing a freight train with class 4 goods No.4043

Later history

The Midland at last had its route into Manchester from London. Over the years it made some improvements. The route from Romiley through Hyde entailed a long detour, so in 1875 a new more direct line was opened through Reddish.

In 1865 the Midland had become a partner of the Cheshire Lines Committee which opened Manchester Central railway station in 1880. Therefore the MIdland transferred most of its trains there, at first reaching it through Stockport Tiviot Dale. However the route became increasingly congested and was hardly suitable as an express route, so in 1897, the Midalnd opened a new line from New Mills through Disley Tunnel and Heaton Mersey.


The line from Matlock to Buxton was closed in 1968 by the Labour Minister for Transport, Barbara Castle, not as it is often thought by the Beeching reforms. Continuing support is being given by a heritage group Peak Rail who have restored the section from Matlock to Rowsley. The line from Matlock to Ambergate, plus the section of the Midland Main Line to Derby, are now referred to as the Derwent Valley Line. Meanwhile, the Wirksworth branch still exists and is currently being restored as the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.

Current status

Although the track has been lifted between Rowsley and Buxton and is now part of the Monsal Trail, plans to re-open it are still proposed from time to time, and the Derbyshire County Council has pledged to keep the trackbed free of development.

Part of the line has been re-opened by the heritage railway organisation Peak Rail who run services from Matlock to Rowsley, at a current distance of 4 miles in length.

There are plans to extend to Bakewell via the site of Rowsley railway station and a Proposed Haddon halt as part of the Buxton extension project. It will involve reinstating the whole section and Bakewell railway station to their former use once planning permission has been granted, plus full restoration of the old Haddon Tunnel and both Coombs Road and Rowsley Viaducts (along the way between both Bakewell and Rowsley themselves).

Dore & Totley tunnel, second longest in the British Isles, 3 miles 946 yards, on the direct route between Manchester and Sheffield.

A Quartet of Four tunnels ‘(Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor) all located between Great Longstone and of course both Peak Forest & Blackwell Mill’ were re-opened to walkers and cyclists in May 2011

Britain’s fourth longest tunnels, 3 miles 313 yards, are through the same Pennine range, on the old Great Central, also between Manchester and Sheffield.  This view, taken in 1947, shows a Great Northern ‘Atlantic’ leaving one of the original tunnels, now closed and replaced by two new adjacent bores to accommodate electric working.