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Local Railway History


This article is drawn from our collection. and has been digitised and edited from an original 15 page typed document.  It is too good to remain buried and forgotten so we have honoured the authors obvious intentions when it was given to us, of publishing it.  Unfortunately we have been unable to identify the author or its date and have carried out significant searches to try to ensure that it has not been copied from published, copyrighted text.  


The document provides a fascinating insight into the development, and demise, of the railways in the area.

Any supporting pictures are from our collection or from the archives of the Midland Railway Society.


This page is under development as the document continues to be digitised and edited.  Please keep calling back

LOCAL RAILWAY HISTORY (up to 1900)         pages 1 to 7


The first railway in Nottinghamshire was the Mansfield to Pinxton Tramway, opened on Easter Tuesday, 1819. This was four foot, four inch gauge iron railed single line connecting the Portland Wharf at Mansfield with the Cromford Canal basin at Pinxton. Horses or bullocks pulled the freight wagons. The first passenger carriages ran on market days in the 1830’s.


The five arched King’s Mill Viaduct, built in 1817 by an engineer named Jessop, is the only large relic, but I believe there used to be a short piece of ancient fish bellied iron rail in the Mansfield Museum. (a similar one is also in Barrow Hill Museum).  The first coal by rail into Mansfield must have come over the Tramway, for collieries were established at Pinxton in the 1780’s and at Langton in 1844.


Railways using steam locomotives were becoming established in the Midlands from the early 1830’s. One of the first was the Leicester and Swannington, engineered by Robert Stephenson, a sixteen mile track opened in 1832 to carry coal into Leicester. The Midland Counties Company was formed after a meeting at the Sun Inn, Ilkeston on 16th August, 1832, with the object of opening rail links between Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. There was also the North Midland Company, connecting Leeds and Derby and the Birmingham and Derby Junction, connecting Birmingham arid Derby and providing a London line over the London and Birmingham Railway tracks.  


In 1844 the Midland Counties. North Midland and Birmingham and Derby Junction amalgamated to form the Midland Railway Company. The Leicester and Swannington and the Birmingham and Gloucester became part of the Midland Railway in 1846.


In 1847 the Midland bought up the Mansfield and Pinxton for £21,066:13s:4d. The line was re-laid to the standard gauge. levelled out for locomotive working and a station was built at Mansfield. The Midland bad been operating passenger service from Nottingham to Kirkby since 2nd October 1848, with four trains each way on weekdays and two each way on Sundays. The journey time was 45 minutes.


The Nottingham - Mansfield passenger service began with a special train on 9th October, 1849, and the first Mansfield - Nottingham train ran at 0900 on the following day. The running time was one hour Nottingham to Mansfield and 55 minutes in the opposite direction.  Stops were made at Sutton, Kirby, Linby, Hucknall, Bulwell, Basford, Radford and Lenton.  Newstead Station was built and owned by a Mr Webb, the tenant of Newstead Abbey, in 1863 and trains stopped there by request.


The first train into Mansfield in 1849 was hauled by “two whistling billies”, according to a contemporary account. They would very likely have been of the four wheeled type.


Matthew Kirtley had become Locomotive Superintendent of the new Midland Railway in 1844, in charge of the amalgamated works of the three old companies at Derby.  He had previously been Loco Superintendent of the Birmingham and Derby Junction.  In his new post he had 95 locos, all four wheelers.  One of Kirtley’s first priorities was to order six wheeled three axled locos. The longer wheel base made for better riding and weight distribution and allowed for bigger boilers. The first six wheeled loco with coupled wheels was Timothy Hackworth’s ‘Royal George’ of 1827, for freight working on the Stockton Darlington Railway.  When Kirtley began building locos at Derby in 1851 he very soon had to produce a large number of sturdy 0-6-0’s for the increasing amount of coal traffic.  The first coal by rail into London was carried in Midland wagons from the Clay Cross Collieries. From Rugby it was worked by the London and Birmingham Railway. This was in July, 1845. The Superintendent of the London and Birmingham, a Captain Bruyeres was disgusted at the idea of carrying coal by rail.  He is reported to have said, “They will ask us to carry dung next!”


Collieries were estabiished near the new Nottingham — Mansfield railway during the 1860’s and ‘70’s at Hucknall, Radford, Bestwood, Linby, Annesley arid Newstead so spare lines to and from the pit yards were provided and the passenger facilities had to be changed.  Work started on the sinking of Kirkby Summit Colliery in 1880.


In 1860 the Midland planned a Mansfield - Worksop line to link up with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway near Shireoaks. The route would have passed through Mansfieid Woodhouse, Spion Kop, Langwitb Cotton Mill, Belph, Steetley and Haggonfields, but there was disagreement between the Duke of Portland and the Duke of Newcastle, the owners of most of the land on the route so the projected route was scrapped.


A new route following the Nottinghamshire - Derbyshire border was proposed by the Midland in 1864 and this proved acceptable.  Work began in 1870, and the line was opened to passenger traffic on 1st June, 1875 with six trains daily in each direction. Stations had been completed at Mansfield Woodhouse, Shirebrook, Langwith, Creswell and Whitwell. The running time to Worksop was 40 minutes, but three trains took the left hand curve at Woodend Junction and went through to Sheffield, taking 75 minutes for the journey, and calling at Shireoaks, Kiveton Park, Woodhouse and Darnall. These trains were provided by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, which had been granted running powers over the new line.

Shireoaks Colliery was already producing, having been sunk in 1856, but others followed on the new route Steetley and Langwith in the 1870s, Whitwell, Warsop Main, Creswell and Shirebrook in the 1890’s and Sherwood in 1902.  


In 1866 the Midland had opened a branch line from Blackwell on the Erewash Valley line through to Teversall, where a colliery was being sunk. Later the line was extended to serve Tibshelf Colliery 1870, Segby (Sutton) Colliery, sunk 1873, Silverhill, sunk 1875, and Pleasley, sunk 1875/77. The Midland completed a connection between this branch line and the Mansfield - Worksop line at Pleasley Junction, in Mansfield Woodhouse, in April, 1886. The first passenger train ran on 1st May 1886, from Mansfield, calling at Mansfield Woodhouse, Pleasley, Teversall, Woodend (Whiteborough), Tibsbelf and Newton, Westhouses and Biackwell, and Alfreton. The journey time was 38 minutes.


On 20th October, 1888, a single line branch was completed from Elmton and Creswell, on the Mansfield — Worksop line, through Clowne and Seymoor Junction, providing a link with Staveley and Chesterfield, In 1903 a connection was made to the new Coxcroft Colliery. Passenger services over this line began on let November, 1888 taking 57 minutes Mansfield to Chesterfield and calling at Mansfield Woodhouse, Shirebrook, Langwith, Elmton and Creewell, Clown Netherthorpe, Staveley and Whittington


Since 1847 there had been a connection from the Midland’s Nottingham — Lincolnshire line at Rolleston Junction to the country town of Southwell. An extension from Southwell in Mansfield was opened in April 1871, running through Kirklington, Farnsfield, Blidworth and Rainworth. A passenger service was established but coal was the main traffic, especially when the collieries were sunk at Blidworth, Bilstborpe, Rufford, Clipstone and Mansfield.


A motive power depot was established at Mansfield, mainly for passenger workings, and the stock included a majority of tank engines, including the very long lived 0-4-4 1P tanks. These locos for many years worked the “Penny Emma” push and pull train on a branch line from Sutton Junction or the Nottingham - Mansfield line to a station at Sutton in Ashfield about 3/4 mile away. This opened on 3rd May 1893, the single fare being one old penny.


During the 1840’s some 4-4-2 tank locos of London, Tilbury and Southend Railway design were shedded at Mansfield for passenger work. They were known as ‘Crooners’ by the men, but were worn out and dodgy steamers.


For freight locos there was the Kirkby shed. Following Kirtley’s example the Midland loco superintendents S.W. Johnson, R.K. Deeley and Henry Fowler continued down the years turning out 0-6-0 tender locos for freight work. As vehicles got heavier this led to a great deal of double-heading. it was not until London, Midland and Scottish days that in 1935 W.A. Stanier brought out his famous 8F 2-8-0 loco for freight work. Kirkby received some early examples and they transformed coal train working.  The traditional Midland 4-4-0 tender locos which had also been built at Derby for passenger work began to be augmented by Staniers 4-6-0 “Black Fives” and the Hughes/Stanier 2-6-0 “Crabs” until the end of steam - more modern tank locos, including the 2-6-4’s built by Fowler, Stanier and Fairburn, and the smaller bunkered 2-6-2’s, hauled the passenger trains until the services were withdrawn.


The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company, whose trains began running on the Worksop - Mansfield line in 1875, was originally founded as the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway in 1837. The idea was to provide a better link between Sheffield and Manchester by building a railway from Sheffield, crossing the Pennines via Penistone and Godley to London Road, Manchester.


The Woodhead tunnel, 3 miles and 22 yards long, through the Pennine chain was the difficult engineering feat, completion fell behind schedule and costs soared. The engineer, Charles Vignoles, had sunk his own money in the project and he was declared bankrupt in 1841. Joseph Locke, who had driven the ‘Rocket’ on 15th September, 1830, at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, when he ran over Mr William Huskinson MP, took over as engineer, and the line was opened in 1845, on 23rd December.


With the completion of the main line the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester quickly took over the Great Grimsby and Sheffield Junction Railway, the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway and the Grimsby Dock Company to become the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in July, l846.

A great deal of money was needed to complete the lines through Retford, Gainsborough and Barnetby to Grimsby, New Holland and Lincoln, but the system was opened in 1849. Over the next 15 years the port of Grimsby was developed for the export of coal and for the landing of fish for distribution all over the country. Timber and dairy produce were among other imports.


A handsome station, built with Steetley stone, was begun in 1850 at Worksop The builder was James Drabble, of Carlton. The civil engineer for the lines linking Sheffield to the East Coast was John Fowler, who later went on to design the first railway bridge across the Thames in London, at Pimlico. Later still, in partnership with Benjamin Baker, be supervised the building of the Forth Bridge, for which they were both knighted in 1890.


We often hear the phrase “Jobs for the boys”, but the first Locomotive Superintendent of the M.S. and L. Railway was Richard Peacock, who was 26 when appointed. He had been Loco Superintendent of the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester from the age of 21, having previously worked for Daniel Gooch on the Great Western Railway, and before that had been in charge of locos on the Leeds and Selby Railway.  The M.S. and L relied on locomotives built by outside contractors like Sharp Brothers, of Manchester, arid E.B. Wilson of Leeds.


Sharp’s produced a lot of reliable 2-2-2 tender tank locos for passenger work, and some robust 0-6-0’s for freight.  Wilson’s young leading draughtsman, David Joy, produced a design for a 2-2-2 passenger loco in 1847. The first one was named ‘Jenny Lind’, after the famous Swedish opera star, and was built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railways. The type soon spread to many other companies, including the M.S. and L.


In 1845 Sharp’s built the first of a series of 0-6-0 freight locos to Robert Stephenson’s ‘long boiler’ design, and the M.S. and L. Railway purchased some of these. All three axles were in front of the firebox and the long boiler gave more tube heating surface and ample water capacity. At higher speeds these long boilers were dangerously rough riders but they were ideal for slow freight; one of them pulled a train of 101 wagons weighing 597 tons at 13 ¼ mph.


Peacock laid out the loco running sheds at Gorton, where the famous Gorton railway workshops were later established.  In 1854, Peacock resigned to found with Charles Frederick Beyer, the locomotive building firm of Bayer Peacock.


W.G. Craig followed Peacock as M.S. and L Loco Superintendant and he conpleted the first loco, an 0-6-0 goods, at the companies Gorton Works.  In1859 Charles Reboul Sacre took over as loco superintendant and held the post for 27 years.  He was a firm believer in double framed locomotives with outside bearings for the axles, but his early locos were cabless.  One can only imagine those early days, struggling throught the clogging smoke of the single bore Woodhead tunnels soaked in sweat and then emerging into a Pennine snow storm, 1000 feet above sea level.  No wonder the footplate men had long bushy beards.


Sacre did eventually fit weather boards to his locomotives and then extended them, bent over at an angle, to give slightly better protection.  By 1878 he had developed a proper cab with curved side sheets.  In the side sheets he placed an oval brass framed window, but the roof stopped halfway along the footplate.  I bet the crew would gladly have swopped the oval window for another foot of cab roof over their heads.



BHESS 2015 96


Edward Watkin became M.S. and L. General manager in 1853 and he concluded an agreement with the Great Northern Railway to run through expresses from Kings Cross to Manchester in 1357, via Retford and Sheffield.  At first the MS. and L. locos worked only as far as Retford, but in 1883 they went as far as Grantham with the King’s Cross trains. The trains were very sharply timed to compete with the London and forth Western Railway’s Euston to Manchester service. One of these trains,16.15 from King’s Cross became known as ‘the fastest train in the world’, covering the 203 miles in 4 hours, 20 minutes. if required this train would stop at Worksop to set down first class passengers.


Sacre’s handsome 44 worked this service from 1877.   In July, 1884 one ol these locos broke a crank axle while working the 12.40pm express from Manchester. The accident happened on the curve at Bullhouse Bridge, near Penistone. The loco remained on the rails but the shock broke a defective couple between the tender and first vehicle. The vehicles plunged down the bank, killing 24 people and injuring over 60 more.


Sacre built 12 outside cylinder 2-2-2 express locos in 1882/83 and they worked the London expresses between Manchester and Grantham Iron 1883 to 1887.   They had 7 feet 6 inch driving wheels and were more modern versions of the old ‘Crewe’ type locomotives.  Their livery was brunswick green with black and gold lining.


At Sheffield when the line from Dunford Bridge first opened, a temporary terminous built at Bridgehouses. Sheffield Victoria opened on 15th September, 1851, “with a light glass roof cover, like that of Crystal Palace” in one contemporary description. A line joining Bridgehouses to the Midland Railway at Beighton Junction was opened in 1849. Until 185ô the M.L.S. and L. brought Southbound travellers to Beighton, where they transferred to Midland trains. Then for two years through trains to London ran over the Midland, until the agreement with the Great Northern came into operation.


Co-operating with the Great Northern, the M.S. arid L. acquired interests in some lines being built in Cheshire in 1859, and then in 1856-67, the M.S. and L, the  Great Northern and the Midland formed the Cheshire Lines Committee, eventually linking Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Southport and Altrincham.


The M.S. and L. was established as a cross country, coast to coast line, often in financial difficulty, a line which collected traffic for the greater and more powerful companies, to carry away to London and other parts.


Watkins had become chairman the M.S. and L. in 1864. He had been made a Knight in 1868, and was also chairman of the South Eastern Railway.  In 1872 he became Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway.  It had long, become his ambition to link the M.S and L. with London, an in 1873 an attempt was made to get authorisation for a joint M.S. and L. and Midland Line from Askern Junction, near Doncaster, to Rushton, near Kettering.  This would have allowed the Midland a direct route to the North East, and the M.S. and L. to run over the Midland to St. Pancras, but the Bill failed to get Parliamentary authorisation.


Watkins ambitions recovered from this set-back, and in 1878 he was made Chairman o the smaIl East London Railway. which was to provide a link between the Metropolitan and the South Eastern. He- also became deeply involved with the Channel Tunnel Company and the Submarine Continental Railway Company which had begun operations in 1882. His vision of controlling railways from the North East and North West coasts of England to the French coast. was never nearer fulfilment . By l893 Parliament finally rejected the Channel Tunnel idea.


The M.S. and L London link was not dead however and the first stage began when the lines from Beighton Junction to Staveley Central and Chesterfield were opened in June 1892.  At the beginning of 1893 the line was extended to Annersley North Junction to connect with the Great Northern.  M.S, and L. coal and goods trains thus gained access to Nottingham over the G.N..  Also in 1898 the Chesterfield- Heath line was opened, and the Killamarsh Junction to Waleswood Junction line

The M.S and L. gained access to many more Derbyshire Collieries along the new route which also provided Watkins with the chance to press for his long desired London extension.  In 1892 plans went. successfully through Parliament for the new M.S arid L. main line, from Annerslev. through Nottingham, Lougbboro’, Leicester, Rugby to Quainton Road and Harrow on the Hill over Metropolitan tracks to a new station at Marylebone.


Because of a trade recession it was not until 1894 that the necessary money for the new route could he raised. The line was formally opened at Marylebone on the 9th March 1899, and the passenger services began six days later. The Nottingham Victoria Station, owned jointly by the Great Northern, was opened on 24th May, 1900.


Watkin had resigned the Chairmanship through ill health in 1894 but he remained a director and was able to see the new line in service before his death in 1901.

In 1900 a very valuable link was opened on the new line from Culworth Junction, south of Woodford. in Northants to Banbury on the Great Western.


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