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Fig 1: Hughes ‘Crab’ 2-6-0 no. 42932 descends from Kirkby Station Junction, passing under the GNR Leen Valley Extension line heading towards Pye Bridge. Date not known. Photo Credit: Frank Ashley, Malcolm Rush Collection

Youthful Days – Part 3

In Part 3 of local railway enthusiast Malcolm Rush’s memoirs, he recalls travelling on the last Nottingham to Worksop passenger train on 10th October 1964.

Fig 1 shows the Pye Bridge route which was used by excursion trains and Malcolm Rush travelled on some of these. The ‘Crab’ hauled train could well be going to Belle Vue Zoo and Gardens, near Manchester, a popular place for a day out in the 1960s. The engine was allocated to Stockport Edgeley shed for some periods which adds support to the destination possibly being Belle Vue. The train would briefly join the Erewash Valley main line at Pye Bridge before turning off towards Ambergate, passing through Butterley (now home of the Midland Railway Centre). At the Ambergate triangular junction the train would turn right, passing through Matlock travelling through the Peak District and on across the Headstone Viaduct at Monsal Dale towards the Manchester area.

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Fig 2: A timeless scene during June 1952 as Class 04/8 2-8-0 No. 63882 drifts through the cutting at Kirkby South Junction with a train of loaded coal wagons on the main line from the Kirkby Bentinck direction. A scene I witnessed many times – only the style of wagons and the lion and wheel emblem on the tender were before my era. Photo Credit: Frank Ashley, Malcolm Rush Collection.

The Youthful Days of Malcolm Rush – Part 3

Kirkby South Junction was a favourite haunt for a lot of train-spotters. The junction was three-ways and lay in what seemed to me a deep cutting. The main line was the ex. Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway, opened in 1892. When the Great Central Railway opened their London Extension from Annesley through Nottingham (Victoria) and onto London (Marylebone) a fast link was provided from Manchester and Sheffield (Victoria) into the capital. Branching from this was the ex.Great Northern Railway Leen Valley Extension which ran to Langwith Junction, opened in 1897. The youngest line, opened in 1916, was the former Mansfield Railway which joined the ex. Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway at Clipstone.

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Fig 3: Kirkby South Junction in the early 1960’s with Lindley’s  Lane bridge to the right. In the background, the council houses on Manor Crescent profile the route of the original Kirkby-in-Ashfield to Nottingham Midland line.  Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre

On a fine day in the school holidays, the bridge became quite crowded with boys passing the time away in various ways, one of which was to “load” a hawthorn berry into the hole of a bicycle pump and fire it at the legs of one of the short-trousered members of the group (I received my share of hits!!). All the time this waiting and watching was going on, the Midland line from Kirkby-in-Ashfield to Nottingham acted as a backdrop to the scene with the predictable Stanier 8F 2-8-0s and Fowler 4F 0-6-0s hauling coal trains interspersed with the local passenger service, generally consisting of 3 coaches hauled by a Fairburn Class 4 2-6-4T.

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Fig 4: On 2nd July 1965 Austerity 2-8-0 No. 90466 drifts southwards at Kirkby South Junction, seen from the bridge on Lindley’s Lane. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush. Colourised version.

In Fig.4 Annesley tunnel can be seen in the distance and the lines of the ex. Midland Railway from Nottingham towards Kirkby-in-Ashfield (East) follows a route right to left in front of the row of houses seen in the top of the photograph. The day after this photo was taken I visited my first signal box – Kirkby South Junction.

If you go to this spot now the cutting has been filled in and a bridge carries the Robin Hood Line over Lindley’s Lane. This re-opened line emerges from the ex. Midland Railway Kirkby tunnel, situated above Annesley tunnel and then takes a similar route to the tracks seen here, albeit at higher elevation

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Fig 5: This photo shows another view of Kirkby South Junction, taken from the cutting top known locally by us as Devil’s Point.  Class N7 0-6-2T No. 69651 is being used as part of track renewal work, carried out in July 1953. Photo Credit: Frank Ashley, Malcolm Rush Collection

I have experienced this view on a few occasions but Devil’s Point wasn’t a location generally favoured by the spotters. I remember, though, sitting here one summer’s evening, waiting for the “Britannia” hauled fish train from Grimsby. I was intrigued by the signal box and sat there watching what was going off and listening to the bells. This couldn’t have been to the signalman’s liking, though, because after a while he threw open his window and shouted “Clear off”. Although I believe public access to Devil’s Point was OK I didn’t want confrontation so I quickly moved and was able to find an alternative viewpoint to savour the passing of the “Grimsby fish”.

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Fig 6: With little more than a month to go before the ”Beeching axe” severed the passenger railway service between Nottingham and Worksop, Fairburn 2-6-4T No. 42232 pauses at Kirkby-in Ashfield (East) on its journey to Nottingham on 3rd September 1964. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush. Colourised version.

The Nottingham to Worksop passenger service, serving local stations including Kirkby-in-Ashfield was one of the casualties of the “Beeching axe” and was withdrawn on 10th October 1964. I travelled on the last through train from Nottingham to Worksop, alighting when we reached Kirkby. I remember waiting at Nottingham station on what then was Platform 5. I was there with my brother Gordon and our friend Stuart.

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Fig 7: Anti Beeching steam loco graffiti at Sutton Junction on the last day of passenger services on the Nottingham Midland and Worksop route on 10th October 1964. Photo Credit: Notts Free Press collection

It seemed fitting that we should mark that sad occasion and so we asked the loco crew if we could chalk some relevant thoughts onto the carriages – they had no problem with this and so chalk to metal produced “Beeching must go”, “Down with Beeching”. We worked our way along the train and I remember coming to the last coach and then some inspiration made me chalk “The End” on the bulk head where the tail lamp sat.

Afterwards I recall reading descriptions of our efforts which were reported in the local newspapers. Our progress at every station was accompanied by thunderous cracks as detonators exploded under the engine wheels. It was a sort of celebration but I do remember walking home that night with an empty feeling – in one way it was exciting as it was something different but the fact that you were losing your passenger railway service put things into sharp focus

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Fig 8: This is the view from the station footbridge at Kirkby-in-Ashfield (East) looking the other way, towards Nottingham. Stanier Class 3 2-6-2T No. 40168 departs with a train for Nottingham on 2nd September 1955. Photo Credit: H.C. Casserley

I did see No. 40168, but in the scrap line at Kirkby shed because, by the time I was spotting, the tank engines used on the passenger services were the Fairburn Class 4  2-6-4T variety. The line sweeping right goes to Pye Bridge and I remember travelling on a few excursion trains which used that route – one to the Bakewell show and another to Derby Loco Works open day. The level crossing can be seen at the bottom of the picture.

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Fig 9: Traffic congestion at the Station Street level crossings in early 1972. Photo Credit: Notts Free Press collection

As years went by and road traffic grew this increasingly became a source of some considerable delay in Kirkby. So much so that, in 1972, Nottinghamshire County Council and BR completed their plans to re-route the Pye Bridge line via the ex. Great Northern line. This crossed under the road near the Police Station. By this time the Nottingham line had been closed so eliminating the level crossing was a viable proposition.

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Fig 10: Map of the Nottingham District passenger rail stations, distributed as part of the 1964 timetable. I clearly amended this map after October 1964 by crossing out the stations closed between Nottingham and Mansfield Woodhouse! Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

Blog by Malcolm Rush

Posted by SB2K Admin

3rd July 2023