Oral history workshop

Fig 1: Two English Electric Type 1’s  (Class 20’s) with guards van at Kirkby Summit circa 1968. Photo Credit: David Lowe

The Summit

The area to the north of Kirkby-in-Ashfield’s Nags Head cross roads is known locally as The Summit. This area, surrounded by former pit houses, gets its name from the summit of the 1819 Mansfield and Pinxton horse drawn railway, known locally as the Tramway. The railway reached its highest point here on the climb from Pinxton before gently descending to Mansfield.

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Fig 2: Gradient profile of the Pye Bridge to Mansfield Midland line.

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Fig 3: 1887 OS map of East Kirkby showing the junction of the Erewash and Leen Valley lines at the Summit.

When the Midland Railway’s Leen Valley line arrived at Kirkby-in-Ashfield in October 1848, the following year when it was extended to Mansfield, the junction for the Midland’s Erewash and Leen Valley lines was at the Summit. This remained so until August 1892 when a deviation from the Pye Bridge Erewash valley line opened from a point in Kirkby Quarries to Kirkby Station Junction at Station Street. The Erewash Valley line was a steep climb for trains from Pinxton being 1 in 60 at its steepest which required the use of banking locos for many years to assist coal trains into Kirkby-in-Ashfield sidings.

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Fig 4: Kirkby Summit Colliery (NCB East Midlands No. 4 Area) in 1965, three years before closure. Photo Credit: Coal Authority

The Butterley Company started sinking its Kirkby Colliery in 1890 and extended it with the Low Moor shaft in 1915. It was one of the largest collieries in Nottinghamshire in terms of manpower and production and controversially closed in 1968 during the late 1960’s coal industry crisis. The closure finished plans for a Kirkby Super Pit. The adjacent Summit sidings were planned to take 1.5 million tons of coal per annum to the newly constructed Trent Valley coal fired power stations.

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Fig 5: Epperstone’s wagon, Kirkby’s first passenger train service which ran on the Mansfield and Pinxton tramway.

Along with Kirkby Wharf near the modern day Aldi supermarket, the Summit was the site of one of Kirkby’s first railway stations or halts on the 1819 Mansfield and Pinxton tramway. In 1832, Epperstone’s wagon was running on market days from Pinxton wharf to Mansfield Portland wharf. The Summit halt would have closed with the conversion of the tramway between East Kirkby and Mansfield to a conventional steam railway in 1849.

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Fig 6: A Class 8F 2-8-0 passes over Southwell Lane level crossings in the mid 1960’s. Photo Credit: Graham Upchurch.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Summit level crossing was a popular site for Kirkby trainspotters. Coal trains were constantly leaving the Summit sidings and empties arriving, along with movements to and from the adjacent Kirkby-in-Ashfield Loco Shed. Keith Murray recalled the scene in his poem, ‘Crossing Gates on Southwell Lane’.

Shunters, Tankies and big Class 8’s,

Make you wait at the crossing gates,

See lads get all excited,

“Got that number yesterday”,

Not surprising, as I said,

Eighty, seventy three (8073) home was Kirkby Shed.

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Fig 7: Keith Murray’s OO gauge model of the Summit chip shop. Photo credit: David Amos

An added advantage at this location was the small chip shop on the junction of Low Moor Road and Southwell Lane where lads could eat chips to their hearts content whilst watching the trains go by. This was the location of the 1962 incident of a runaway 4F steam loco which was the inspiration for Dave Goulder writing the song, ‘The Man who put the Engine in the Chip Shop’.

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Fig 8: Class 47 diesel with a southbound MGR coal train on the north spur of the 1972 Kirkby deviation at the Summit. Photo Credit: Keith Murray collection

In early April 1972, the Shireoaks Junction to Pye Bridge freight only line at Kirkby-in-Ashfield was deviated slightly to the west of the original summit to alleviate road traffic problems at Station Street and Southwell Lane level crossings. This location is still the summit of both the freight only Pye Bridge line and the Robin Hood line between Nottingham and Mansfield.

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Fig 9: Railway heritage information board installed at the Summit as part of the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway Bicentenary Project. Photo Credit: David Amos

The Lottery Heritage funded Mansfield and Pinxton Railway Bicentenary project installed a railway heritage information board at the Summit in 2020. It is one of seven information boards situated on the route of the former 1819 tramway.  https://mansfieldandpinxton200.chessck.co.uk/SummitInformationBoard

A Summit Circular industrial heritage trail is on the Mining Heritage website at https://miningheritage.co.uk/summit-circular-a-look-into-kirkby-in-ashfields-industrial-past/


Blog by David Amos

11th January 2023


Posted by SB2K Admin

12th January 2023