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The Building of Barrow Hill

The Railway Station, Station Master’s House and Roundhouse



On the 4th July, 1836, 1n act was passed for making a railway from Leeds to Derby, to be called the North Midland Railway. The line of the railway passes from Derby, through the parishes of Duffield, Wirksworth, Crich, South Wingfield, Shirland, Morton, NorthWingfield, and Wingerworth to Chesterfield. At Chesterfield it crosses the Hasland Road, near the Horns’ Public-House; and after running some distance, along the eastern side of the town, it continues northward, through parts of the townships of Newbold, Tapton and Brimington, and the parishes of Staveley, Eckington, Killamarsh and Beighton, into Yorkshire, and forwards to Leeds.


Extract from The History of Chesterfield: Rev. George Hall. 1839 


In August, 1837, N.M.R. shareholders were informed that construction work had begun on the new line and, in the summer of 1838, a bird’s-eye view of the course of the North Midland line would have presented many a scene of interest.  "Thousands of men were at work; (and) nearly all the contracts were proceeding with energy.”

George Stephenson had realised the possibilities of a railway route across an undeveloped mining area and formed the Clay Cross Company, in 1837, to exploit the coal and iron resources of the region. Other coal and iron masters along the route of the proposed new line soon followed his lead. George Hodgkinson Barrow, the proprietor of the Staveley Forge and collieries, began negotiations with the Duke of Devonshire in 1838 for a new lease at Staveley, during which he suggested that his wealthy younger brother, Richard Barrow, could be persuaded to invest in the business, if the terms were favourable.


An 1839 report on progress on the new line stated that, “of contract No.12, Staveley, the length of which is three miles, about 160,000 cubic yards of excavation remain of 520,000; and of the masonry two-thirds are executed.” That same year, the tithe map for the area shows the route of the line passing through what would later become the village of Barrowhill. Apart from the Chesterfield Canal, the Staveley Forge and the N.M.R. the locality was mainly agricultural and sparsely inhabited with just a few dwellings the smaller pits and ironworks.

The section of line from Derby to Rotherham (Masbrough) opened on May 11th 1840 and the whole route, from Derby to Leeds, opened on 30th June, 1840. In addition to the stations at Derby and Leeds, there were 13 intermediate stations en- route. Although the line passed through Staveley (Barrow Hill), close to the Staveley Forge, it did not then have a station.


The Leeds lntelligencer reported that “the railway passes in its entire length over a rich coalfield, and skirts the mountain limestone of Derbyshire; and great quantities of these valuable minerals will doubtless be conveyed on the line, to the benefit alike of the landowner, the farmer, and the manufacturer.” This forecast soon proved accurate with both passengers and goods transported on the line.


The Staveley Forge was a small concern, employing a labour force of about 500 in the coal and iron mines, and at the ironworks, when George Hodkinson Barrow signed the new lease, in June 1840, which gave him control of all the mines and beds of coal and ironstone in the manor of Staveley. Although contemporary documents7 still describe George Barrow as the coal and ironmaster in 1842, it is evident that Richard Barrow was involved in the management of the works for quite some time before signing his own lease on 28th February 1843 and taking total control of the business.

In the early part of 1841 the directors of the N.M.R. had been able to report that the traffic on their line was increasing; the quantity of minerals conveyed was almost outstripping the accommodation at the disposal of the Company.8 It was in anticipation of this greatly increased traffic that Richard Barrow inaugurated a major programme of expansion of the business in the early 1840’s; clearing away most of the plant, erecting two new furnaces and building the foundations of what would later become the Staveley Coal and Iron Company.


When Frances Thompson designed the stations along the North Midland Route, stations that were so beautifully illustrated by Samuel Russell, Barrow Hill as a village did not yet exist. The nearest locality was the small town of “Staveley”, the name that was given to one of the eleven new local stations which opened on Tuesday 6th April 1841 tor ,the greater accommodation of the villages through which the line passes” with two trains each way daily.


The 1841 census, taken in June of that year, records neither a station nor any residents in the area with railway-related occupations. Describing the view from the train at “Staveley Station” in 1842, Allen notes that Staveley can be seen upon the hill to the left (as it appears facing towards Chesterfield) and Mr Barrow’s iron-works can be seen in the valley. He reports that the views from the railway at this point were “extensive and picturesque.”


Williams described the district in the mid-1840’s as a time “when many of its largest and richest iron fields had been untouched;.. .when Staveley was only a name;... when neither South Yorkshire nor Derbyshire had sent, except by sea, a ton of coals to London; and when the new North Midland Railway quietly ran over sixty miles of almost undisturbed coalfields.”

The coming of the railway ended the region’s isolation and led to both its importance as an iron-producing area and to the building of Barrow Hill village.






The Midland Railway company was formed when the Midland Counties Railway, the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and the North Midland Railway amalgamated. The company was incorporated on the 10th of May 1844.

By 1849, the Barrows had built a few dwellings for their employees near the railway station, in compliance with the conditions of their lease. Cavendish Place was built for managers and agents at the works whilst furnce Hill, Devonshire Terrace and East and West Terraces (the Long Row) housed the miners and ironworkers. The land was described as “of great value, for its’ abundant produce of coal and ironstone, the former of which is sent away in great quantities by the Midland railway, of which there is a station, and the line passes through the midst of the works of Richard Barrow Esq., the extent of which may be judged by there being near 2,000 hands employed.”


The 1849 Post Office directory does not list a stationmaster at “Staveley” in 1849 but, on the census taken on 30th March 1851, John Clarke is recorded as the Station Master, living at “Staveley Railway Station” along with his wife and five children. The places of birth of  his children reveal that Clarke had previously worked at Masbrough on the Midland line and that his one year old son, Thomas, had been born at Kimberworth. White‘s Directory of 1857 again lists Clarke as the station master and records that there were now three trains, each way, daily between Derby and Leeds. In 1861, John Clarke is listed as the Station Master but his dwelling is now recorded as the Station Masters House, the first recording of this building. The census enumerator’s route in 1861, and in subsequent years, places this house by the bridge on what is now Station Road.

By 1871, John Clarke had been replaced by Richard Eaton who served as the Station Master until his death on 30th December 1893. William Tilforth had worked at Cudworth before taking over from Eaton in February 1894 and served until 1908. The station master in 1908 is recorded as Samuel Morley16 and in 1925 as William Dean, who was resoonsible for the Midland stations at both Staveley (Barrow Hill) and Netherthorpe (Staveley).

Richard Barrow’s business was expanding and, by 1857, the Hollingwood, Springwell. and Victoria collieries were producing superior coals, which were sent by railway to all parts of England, besides supplying the iron works. It was noted that “the Midland railway passes on the east side of the work, where there is a station, with lines of rail running to the works.”18 With branch s to some of the collieries, by 1864 there were some 60 miles of rails owned by the (Staveley) company, seven steam locomotives and innumerable wagons.19 Richard Barrow was a close friend of James Allport. the General Manager of the Midland Railway and, between 1847 and 1855. he had won contracts to supply the Midland Railway with 80,000 tons of coal and became one of their leading suppliers. The expansion of the business and the need for a larger workforce, led Barrow to begin building his model village of Barrow’s Hill in the 1850’s and early 1860’s.


On 19th December 1863, Staveley Works was incorporated as the Staveley Coal and Iron Company, with Richard Barrow as its first Chairman and Charles Markham as the new Managing Director and Chief Engineer. Markham had been the assistant locomotive superintendent to the Midland Railway at Derby, where he had won celebrity as an engineer and inventor, and counted a number of influential figures, many of them men with similar railway backgrounds, amongst his friends. These connections would prove invaluable as the business grew ever larger.


Shortly after Barrow’s death on 10th January 1865, Markham negotiated both a renewal of the Devonshire lease and an agreement between the Staveley Coal and Iron Company and the Midland Railway whereby the railway company would provide motive power to the Staveley Ironworks for one hundred years.


The growth of the Staveley Company, and the inevitable increase in traffic, led to the need for a larger engine shed to replace the smaller one ‘Which had been erected earlier near the station”. Construction of a roundhouse began in July 1869 and was completed in November 1870. The Midland Railway Company contracted I.E. Hall to build the depot which cost £16,445 4s 9d. It comprised 24 roads of which the longest was 80 feet and the shortest 60 feet. Following the opening in 1870 it was in continuous use until it finally closed its doors, 1991 after a working life of 121 years. The former steam roundhouse is a unique example of 19th century railway architecture and is the last surviving operational roundhouse engine shed in Great Britain.

Diagrams provided by the Midland Railway Study Centre depict a different station building at Staveley (Barrow Hill) in 1875 and a note indicates that the remodelling followed a committee decision taken in March 1874.


With the opening of the Chesterfield and Clowne branch of the Midland Railway to passengers on Thursday 1st November 1888, Staveley station had been “enlarged to suit the requirements of the new line, which by the way is a single one”

In June 1990, local newspapers reported that the name of the Staveley station would be changed to “Barrow Hill and Staveley Works” to avoid confusion with the other railway stations in Staveley town.

All of the railways were taken under the control of the Railway Executive Committee during the Great War and on 1st January 1923 the Government compulsorily merged the Midland Railway with other companies to form the London Midland and Scottish Railway, one of the “Big Four”.

The L.M.S. was nationalised on 1st January 1948 and became part of British Railways.  It was not until 18th June 1951, that the station was finally re-named “Barrow Hill”, almost 100 years after the building of the village.  Under nationalisation, a programme of closures began in the 1950’s and “Barrow Hill” station was closed to passenger traffic on 5th July, 1954.

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