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I have always been interested in railways, especially those using steam locomotives. I remember as a boy taking a 4d (four 'old pence' - for my American reader, the amazing sum of 3 cents) bus ride on an old 'blue & cream' Midland & General Omnibus double-decker 'bus, the 4 miles to Langley Mill Station on the Erewash Valley Line close to the Nottinghamshire border, in order to watch the main line express trains such as 'The Master Cutler' and 'The Thames - Clyde Express' thunder through on their way to Sheffield and Glasgow from St Pancras Station in London.

Here is a shot of Butterley Railway Station (on the old Pye Bridge to Ambergate line which closed in 1968), in the Derbyshire town of Ripley. When I was about 8, I was taken on a 'special' from here to Manchester Belle Vue station, drawn behind an LMS 4-6-0 'Black Five' locomotive, northward across the embankment which splits Butterley Reservoir, and returning late at night having had a wonderful time at the old Belle Vue Zoological and Pleasure Gardens (since demolished). Since it was after midnight, the last 'bus on the old Midland General Omnibus route from Ripley to Nottingham had LONG gone, and that meant that the family faced a long walk home to Codnor (c.3 miles)!

The Midland Railway Trust has transformed this derelict site, and despite the fact that it looks almost exactly as I remember it, the original station building is no longer there. However, an identical pattern Midland Railway station building was found at Whitwell in north Derbyshire, and has been erected on the site of the old one. Note the period wood and cast iron benches, the typical milk churns found on small Derbyshire stations, and even the period fire buckets!

The Midland Railway Ltd (one of the main constituent companies of the later London Midland and Scottish Railway Ltd) was formed at the nearby Sun Inn in Eastwood, and had its main locomotive and carriage works at Derby, so it was natural that the Trust would have chosen this site, along with the 3.5 mile length of preserved track, as its headquarters. Now trains run from here to the new station and museum at Swanwick and beyond, and there is a fine narrow-gauge extension to the hamlet of Golden Valley (where my mother was born). When I was visiting, ths station at Butterley was decked out with bunting for a visit by the much-loved 'Thomas the Tank Engine', and the place was heaving with 'small railway enthusiasts' and their guardians/parents. This made for a very happy time for all concerned.

Oh, and there has been a name change; although this facility was originally named 'The Midland Railway Centre', it is now known as 'The Midland Railway, Butterley'. Still the same wonderful history, though!


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Originally posted to shortfinals on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Derbyshire and The Peak District and History for Kossacks.

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