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Figure 1: Kirkby South Junction on the Great Central main line between Nottingham Victoria and Sheffield Victoria in the 1960’s. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre.

Kirkby South Junction

A favourite trainspotting haunt for Kirkby lads in the 1950’s and up to 1966 was the Lindley’s Lane bridge, known locally as the Quarry Bridge, at Kirkby South Junction on the former Great Central (GC) main line between Sheffield Victoria and Nottingham Victoria. Many a summer Saturday afternoon would see groups of youths gathered on the bridge waiting for the signalman to signal the coming of yet another train. Kirkby South Junction was a triple junction comprising the GC main line, the Mansfield Railway and the former Great Northern Railway’s Leen Valley Extension line.

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Figure 2: Kirkby South Junction Signal Box circa 1966. Photo Credit: David Lowe
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Figure 3: Signalman, Mr Eldred, in Kirkby South Junction Signal Box in the 1950’s. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre

Kirkby South Junction Signal Box controlled the triple junction and was situated north of Lindley’s Lane Bridge between the GC and GNR lines. It was the subject of an article, ‘Signalling a Change in Direction’, by Neil Vann in the July 2022 edition of Steam World. During the 1970’s the signalling diagram out of Kirkby South Junction signal box was situated in the Railway Inn at Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

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Figure 4: Gresley A3 Pacific on a down express passenger train at Kirkby South Junction in the 1950’s. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre
In the post war period to 1960, the GC main line had two main line titled expresses, The South Yorkshireman and The Master Cutler. The latter would see Gresley A3 Pacifics heading the train and many a lad on the way to Kingsway School would tell the tale of seeing the Master Cutler pass under the Lindley’s Lane bridge heading for London Marylebone station. These two trains finished running on the GC main line in 1960 when it was demoted to a secondary passenger line.
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Figure 5: Class 04/8 2-8-0 with a southbound coal train in the early 1960’s. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre
However, the main freight traffic at Kirkby South Junction, down all three lines, was coal from the North Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire coalfields many destined for Annesley GC marshalling yards. A variety of different freight trains travelled the Mansfield Railway including steel bogie bolster and fish trains (see Ian Handley’s post Fish Trains at Kirkby: The 7 o’clock Brit). https://www.kirkbysteam.co.uk/fish-train-the-7-oclock-brit/   The end for most freight on the GC system at Kirkby South Junction came in June 1965 when Annesley Marshalling Yards closed.
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Figure 6: Last southbound York – Bournemouth passenger train on the GC passing Kirkby South junction on 3rd September 1966. Photo Credit: The late Lenny Brittain
The last through passenger train to use the GC system north of Nottingham Victoria was the York – Bournemouth, in summer Newcastle – Bournemouth, which passed Kirkby South Junction with the southbound train at 12.20pm with the northbound working passing at 5.30pm. This working was dieselised in its latter years, usually motive power being an English Electric Type 3 (Class 37) or a Brush Type 4 (Class 47) and quite often hauling a rake of green livered Southern Region carriages.
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Figure 7: Details of locos / trains through Kirkby South Junction on the last day of the GC as a through route, 3rd September 1966. From the late Lenny Briittain collection.
The GC main line closed as a through route over the weekend of 3rd and 4th September 1966 with the last train passing Kirkby South Junction in the early hours of Sunday 4th September 1966. The section of the GC main line between Kirkby South Junction and Kirkby Bentinck sidings saw a few coal movements from Bentinck and Langton collieries into 1967 which involved an elaborate shunting manoeuvre to access the Mansfield Railway at Kirkby South Junction. A few freight trains, including the Metal Box train, continued to use the GN Leen Valley Extension line and the GC line through Annesley tunnel to Annesley North Junction and the GN Leen Valley line until closure at the end of May 1968.
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Figure 8: Demolition at Kirkby South Junction in 1969. Photo Credit: Arthur Upchurch Jnr
Demolition of the remaining lines at Kirkby South Junction took place in 1969. Filling in of Annesley Tunnel and the cutting through Kirkby South Junction took place in the early 1970’s but was abruptly halted in 1973 when rare orchids were found growing on the trackbed north of Kirkby South Junction. The location was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
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Figure 9: Demolition of the GC bridge on Lindley’s Lane in 1994 to make for construction of Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line. Photo Credit: The late Alan Slater.
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Figure 10: Nottingham bound Class 150 Sprinter passes the site of Kirkby South Junction at a higher level in 1996. Photo Credit: David Amos
However, this was not the end for railways at the site of Kirkby South Junction. In November 1995, Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line between Newstead and Mansfield Woodhouse passed over Kirkby South Junction but 30 feet higher and took the route of the former GN Leen Valley extension line to join the Kirkby-in-Ashfield – Pye Bridge freight only line at a new Kirkby Station Junction. Originally, trains passed under Lindley’s lane bridge but the Robin Hood line now passes over on its way to the former Midland Railway’s tunnel at Mutton Hill.
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Figure 11: Farewell to the Great Central railtour passing Kirkby South Junction on 3rd September 1966. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

Perhaps the last word about Kirkby South Junction should go to an article entitled ‘Discovering the Real Great Central’ in Steam World, January 1998


Waiting on Lindley’s Lane bridge on a fine 1950’s summer evening for a B1 working near its limit, to storm out of the tunnel with the Sheffield bound South Yorkshireman, watching it pass beneath us and beat a rhythm over the double junction and disappear round the curve towards Kirkby Bentinck, filling the cutting with smoke, sudible in the still air several minutes after the signals had dropped. It seemed inconceivable that the GC we were watching would be reduced to a Chiltern commuter line…almost Gone Completely.




Blog posted by David Amos

SB2K Admin

4th October 2022.