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Figure 1: Sprinter combination at Kirkby-in-Ashfield station on the Robin Hood Line as part of the Fun Day on 17th November 1996. The station opened for timetabled trains the follwing day. Photo Credit: Ian Handley

The Robin Hood Line at Kirkby-in-Ashfield

The Robin Hood Line reinstated rail passenger services between Nottingham and Worksop in three stages between 1993 and 1998. Stage 1, from Nottingham to Newstead, opened in May 1993 with Stage 2 opening in November 1995 bringing Mansfield back on the national passenger rail network after a gap of thirty-one years. Stage 2 linked Newstead with Mansfield Woodhouse. Kirkby-in-Ashfield had to wait another year for its railway station, which opened in November 1996. In 1998, Stage 3 of the Robin Hood Line opened which linked Mansfield Woodhouse with Worksop.

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Figure 2: The 1848 Kirkby Tunnel reopened as part of Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line in 1994/95. Photo Credit: David Amos collection.

The main catalyst for reinstating rail passenger services was as a means of economic regeneration following the decline in the staple local industries of textiles and coalmining. 1988 was a crucial year in the development of the Robin Hood Line. In that year, Nottinghamshire County Council commissioned two reports, one by the University of Leeds to assess potential patronage and the other by British Rail to examine the structural state of Kirkby Tunnel at Mutton Hill, which had been closed since October 1970, and subsequently filled in. In August 1988, British Rail agreed to safeguard the trackbed from Radford Junction to Newstead Colliery with an act for the Newstead to Kirkby-in-Ashfield link being acquired in July 1990.

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Figure 3: Abandoned former Midland line at Newstead in October 1983. Photo Credit: David Amos

The former Midland line in the Leen Valley was still being used south from Bestwood Park Junction for coal trains from Calverton Colliery until 1999. The line north from here lay abandoned following the closure of Linby Colliery in March 1988. Coal trains to Newstead Colliery finished in the autumn of 1983 when plans were afoot to send Newstead’s coal underground by conveyor to the Bentinck Colliery Surface Drift. Newstead Colliery closed in March 1987.

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Figure 4: Opening of Stage 1 of the Robin Hood Line at Newstead Station on 17th May 1993. Photo Credit: David Amos collection

In 1991 a consortium of local authorities along the planned route of the Robin Hood Line gave the go ahead for the Robin Hood Line. Stage 1 from Nottingham to Newstead opened on 17th May 1993 with stations opening at Hucknall (formerly Hucknall Byron) and Newstead. Bulwell station, formerly Bulwell Market, opened in 1994. The rail service was operated by BR Regional Railways, in the period just prior to the privatisation of British Rail.

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Figure 5: Leaflet showing details of the construction of Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line through Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Photo Credit: David Amos collection

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Fig 6: Constructing Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line through Kirkby-in-Ashfield in 1994. Photo Credit: David Amos collection.

Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line commenced early in 1994 and saw the development of a new section of railway at Kirkby-in-Ashfield, incorporating the route of some closed trackbeds from the 1960’s, to join the Kirkby to Pye Bridge freight only route just south of Victoria Road bridge. The new line deviated away from the original 1848 route near to the Kingsway Estate at Grives Lane and re-joined it at Kirkby Hardwick, where Sutton Parkway station is situated. The original Midland route through the town had been closed when the section of line between Kirkby Station Junction and Annesley Warren was severed in October 1970.

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Figure 7: Sprinter Combination at Kirkby-in-Ashfield near to Kingsway on the Fun Day Stage 2 opening of the Robin Hood Line on 19th November 1995. Photo Credit: David Amos

Following a Fun Day on Sunday 19th November 1995, passenger services between Nottingham and Mansfield Woodhouse commenced on Monday, 20th November 1995. Station’s on Stage 2 were initially at Sutton Parkway, Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse. Kirkby-in-Ashfield station opened a year later, on 18th November 1996, following a campaign led by Sylvia Sinfield from Kirkby and District Conservation Society. (see Ian Handley’s blog, First Rail Ticket at Kirkby since 1964) https://www.kirkbysteam.co.uk/first-ticket-at-kirkby-in-ashfield-since-1964/

Stage 3 between Mansfield Woodhouse and Worksop opened in late May 1998 reinstating rail passenger services between Nottingham and Worksop after a gap of almost thirty-four years.

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Figure 8: Central Trains Class 150 Sprinter at Kirkby Summit with a Mansfield Woodhouse to Nottingham service in 1996. Photo Credit: David Amos


Initially passenger services on Stage 2 of the Robin Hood Line were operated by Central Trains, then by East Midland Trains and currently East Midlands Railways. Anderson and Cupit (2000) commented that it is worth travelling on the Robin Hood line between Newstead and Sutton Parkway for one main reason. This section covers an amalgam of former routes, which cover over two hundred years of railway history in just over two miles! (More about this in a later blog).


Anderson, P. and Cupit, J, An Illustrated History of Mansfield’s Railways, 2000.


Pigott, N. The Rise and Fall of King Coal, 2022.


Mansfield and Pinxton Railway Bicentenary Project, The Mansfield and Pinxton Railway, 2019.


RCTS, A Guided Walk to (some of) the railways of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, 1999.


RCTS, A Travellers Guide to the Robin Hood Line, 1998.


Robin Hood Line, Fact Sheets, 1997.



Blog by David Amos

Posted by SB2K Admin

1st December 2022