The Act of Parliament for a railway through the Peak District from just south of Stockport to Ambergate was passed in 1846. This line was eventually to become part of the Midland Railway's link from London to Manchester. This link was finally opened in 1867 after a chequered history of politics between interested railway companies. However, the present stretch between Matlock and Rowsley South opened earlier, in 1863. The railway passed through the very attractive scenery of the Peak District and involved many tunnels and bridges.
The train from Rowsley South rounds the curve into Matlock Station.
National Rail still operates between Derby and Matlock and from Buxton via Stockport into Manchester, but the rest of the line from Matlock to Buxton was closed in 1968. Most of the track bed still exists and part of it is occupied by the Monsal Trail. (See
Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway (Wikipedia).)
The heritage railway group "Peak Rail" then stepped in. By 1991, Peak Rail had reopened the section of line between Matlock Riverside and Darley Dale. Peak Rail subsequently resumed rail operations to Rowsley South in 1997 and to Matlock (National Rail) Station on 2 July 2011.
Here are some initial references.
From the second platform at Matlock (British Rail) Station, the line passes through the gentle scenery of the Derwent Valley, past Peak Rail's initial southern terminus of Matlock Riverside. Next comes Darley Dale, followed by the present northern terminus of Rowsley South. This is the main operations centre of the line.
The train from Rowsley South steams into Matlock Station.
The locomotive No.72 is a "Riddles WD 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST", built in 1945 by the Vulcan Foundry (as their number 5309) for the War Department (No.75319).
After the War it was sold to the National Coal Board. Subsequently, it came to the Llangollen Railway and then to Peak Rail. "Austerity" locomotives were built as simply as possible for ease of maintenance in the lean war and post war years.
The first carriage dates from 1925 (see below
) and was lovingly restored by volunteers.
After Matlock we pass Matlock Riverside - Peak Rail's previous southern terminus -
before stopping at Darley Dale.
The ticket (8.5x5.5 cm) is issued on the train.
What better colour than red, even if it is not quite "Midland Red"!
The "Peak Rail" logo proudly appears twice on the ticket!
The Austerity is being prepared for the return journey to Matlock.
Before exploring Rowsley South further, there was the opportunity to look inside the Vintage Carriage which was attached for "exercise" purposes to the timetabled trains between Matlock and Rowsley South. We were able to look inside the carriage, due to the kindness of one of the volunteers who was active in its restoration. This carriage was built in 1925 by the London Midland & Scottish Railway - LMS for short - at its Derby Carriage and Wagon Works, one year after the "Grouping". It is an "LMS Period One, Third Open" coach. It lasted in "British Railways" passenger service until 1962. Restoration was subsequently
started by apprentices at the Derby works. The volunteers from the LMS Carriage Association completed the restoration in 2016 and the coach is a tribute to their dedication and hard work. The LMS was noted, from its formation, for providing a comfortable travel experience, even for 3rd class passengers. This can be seen in the interior decor, fixtures and fittings of this fine vehicle.
The vintage carriage exudes 1925 elegance, ...
... with shaded numerals, ...
... lettering and LMS crest to match.
Indeed, the elegance of a bygone age!
The LMS provided comfort even for its 3rd class passengers!
The seats are cushioned and the woodwork is nicely varnished.
The preservationists were able to find the right style of cloth from the era.
The LMS logo is incorporated into the rack mounting.
Photographs - monochrome of course - of the places served by the LMS, line the walls of the carriage. Here we see Oxford Road in Manchester, chock-a-block with trams.
(Sorry about the unavoidable reflections in the glass.)
It's not often that one displays pictures related to the "smallest room", but this wash basin is interesting. Probably to save space, it opens out, away from the wall, over the loo itself. The assumption is that passengers will do the right thing and fold the basin back to the upright position after use. I didn't check it out, but I think the bowl is emptied - or overflows - into the loo itself. Was there originally a second tap for hot water? Is that a soap dish on the right of the tap(s)?
Our Vintage Carriage proudly bears the crest of the then (1925) one year old
"London Midland & Scottish Railway".
The main depot area at Rowsley South consists of a number of units and areas for the different railway-related interests hosted by Peak Rail. Again, I would like to thank the volunteer from the LMS Carriage Association for showing me around some of this area. The preservation groups based at Rowsley South include the following.
From this we see that there is usually a strong symbiotic relationship (mutual "back-scratching"!) between heritage railways and special interest groups. Heritage lines need to attract interested visitors by running appropriate historical rolling stock, and the interest groups need somewhere to run and exercise their rolling stock. This symbiosis usually works well in practice.
There were 10 "Peak" Class diesel Electrics, so named because each one was named after a different peak. Two survived into preservation. This is D8, "Penyghent", built in 1959 and withdrawn in 1980. The "Peaks" had a maximum tractive effort 50,000 lbf and a maximum speed 75 mph.
The "Peaks" were regular performers on the St Pancras to Manchester runs.
This one is top-and-tailing with the "Austerity".
It is owned by the North Notts Locomotive Group
The train is setting off for Matlock
and I have some time to nose around the depot sidings at Rowsley South.
This 60 foot diameter turntable was installed in 1937 in Mold Junction Shed in the Stanier years.
In 1987 it was taken from Mold to Rowsley South by Peak Rail volunteers
who restored it to working order in 2010.
Here is the commemorative plaque.
The LMS 10825 Medical Examination Car was originally built in 1910 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway as a corridor third. It was withdrawn in 1971. It may find use as a "party coach" in a train of vintage LMS carriages.
I peered in at the open doorway of the Heritage Shunters Trust (HST)
. Most of their locos were under tarpaulins, but this one had for a while thrown off the cloak of secrecy. It looks like a Class 14, affectionally known as a "Teddy Bear". This one is probably D9525, although D9500, D9502 and D9524 have at various times been based at Peak Rail.
Waterman Railway Heritage Trust
is proud owner of three GWR tank engines, all of which need restoration work. Here is
GWR 5205 Class 2-8-0T No. 5224, built in 1924, undergoing serious attention. Behind is a "Pete Waterman" Diesel BR Class 25, number D7659, also in line for restoration work. It's not enough to own locomotives; they need to be maintained and restored as well - that takes time and dedication! However, it will be nice to see some additional steam traction on Peak Rail, even if we mean GWR as opposed to Midland or LMS engines! Compared to the other regions of the then British Railways, more GWR engines were rescued for preservation than engines from the other regions. It's how the preservation cookie crumbled in the 60s and 70s!
In the Waterman Railway Heritage Trust's depot, we can also see, on the left, what is probably BR Class 08 number 08830 and what looks like a tank engine - perhaps GWR 5553 or 6634.
This looks like BR Class 46 number 46035 (D172) "Ixion" (1 Co-Co 1) of the Waterman Trust.
This looks like BR Class 46 number 46035 (D172) "Ixion" of the Waterman Trust and
in light green, BR Class 37 number 37151 (Co-Co) (owner unknown).
It seemed opportune to let a second train leave for the south, and have a nose around the station and enjoy a snack as well. After all, today's visit was to a heritage railway and not to a commuter line. There were further photographic opportunities to be contemplated!
The next train leaves for Matlock with Vintage Carriage - LMS 7828 - behind the "Austerity".
The train is "top-and-tailed" with Peak Class D8, Penyghent.
The train departs.
Yes, this is "Rowsley South"!
It's "row" as in boating, not as in arguing!
The map in the station building shows the original line from Matlock to Buxton.
It closed in 1968.
This is the present northern extremity of Peak Rail's operations between Matlock and Rowsley South. The depot area, which hosts the various preservation groups, is to the left.
Sometime later the train from Matlock returns.
It will form the last train to Matlock, so I had better not miss it!
On the return journey, we revisited Darley Dale and duly steamed past Matlock Riverside, which, for most purposes, seemed to have outlived its usefulness as the erstwhile southern terminus of Peak Rail. However, there were new impressions to be gained and new pictures to be taken. Obviously, it was not a matter of "seen before"!
The last train from Rowsley South to Matlock will be departing soon.
Yes, very soon!
However, there is still time to admire Vintage Carriage - LMS 7828.
Third class, but very much an "eye-turner", 94 years on.
It's a nice ride in the MK 1 restaurant car.
Being the last train of the day, the crowds have departed.
The next stop is Darley Dale.
The station has been nicely restored ...
... to reflect its Victorian origins.
Here is the level crossing.
Farewell to Darley Dale where Midland Red reigns supreme.
This is a view from the carriage window of the awakening spring between Darley Dale and Matlock Riverside. Compared to the many view-blocking windows found in today's trains, these MK 1 carriages from the 60s have splendid panoramic windows.
We steam through Matlock Riverside.
Matlock (Network Rail) awaits us.
Yes, it's Matlock.
Here's how to drive the "Austerity".
It was built to be as rugged and simple as possible,
but looks as if it still needs a lot of skill to drive!
The driver is "reflected" on the right. The train will be off soon, so there's not too much time to engage in conversation, but I think our driver has probably got quite a few years of experience beneath his belt. However, it's different if you driving a steam loco in "volunteer" mode as opposed to "wage earning" mode!
Here are the coupling rods. I think that the centre axle is connected to the two cylinders.
The motion is then transmitted to the other two axles via the external coupling rods.
The coupling rods must be carefully placed with respect to the wheel centres to avoid a "dead" position where the wheels cannot be turned.
The "Austerity" then backs out with its train
- the last train of the day from Matlock to Rowsley South ...
... leaving me at Matlock.
It was indeed an interesting day, well worth the visit to this part of Derbyshire's Peak District. I saw and learnt many new things. That is what life is about! Thank you to the volunteer who was happy to show me and other visitors the inside of the "Vintage Coach" and who also showed me some of the depot area at Rowsley South. Congratulations - of course - to the volunteers who so diligently keep Peak Rail running!
To end with, here is the Peak Rail logo as it appeared on the ticket.
Perhaps the sign of more developments to come!