You learn something new every day and what I’ve recently learned is that England’s oldest continuously running commercial railway is one which ran through my former home town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield (Nottinghamshire) and within yards of where my maternal grandparents lived on the Town’s Urban Road prior to it being re-routed in 1892.
I learned all this via a most excellent book ‘The Story of the Mansfield & Pinxton Railway’ (cover photo above) which was written to coincide with the railway’s 200th anniversary in 2019. What’s more despite some re-routing this is a railway that’s still running.
There’s a companion walking guide booklet to go with the hard backed 98 page book and a DVD too. Rarely have I come across such well researched and presented work; all these items are a credit to the volunteers who put them together and the Heritage Lottery Fund who helped finance their project.
My home Town of Kirkby has had a significant and complex railway history and this project looks at one part of that history in considerable detail. The book is illustrated by many historic photographs and a two page spread map which helps you put the Mansfield & Pinxton Line in context with the other railways that were around it. Part of the track bed now forms the railway which the reopened/rebuilt (1993 – 1998) ‘Robin Hood Line’ occupies.
My own photo of the present Kirkby-in-Ashfield Station taken in April 2009.
A few facts about the M&P – The line opened in April 1819 with horse drawn trucks. The first known passenger service along it was in 1832. The Midland Railway bought the M&P in 1847.
I’ve read a lot of railway books and I can really recommend this one; it has been a joy to read.
If you’d like a copy* there’s information on the M&P 200 website about how to obtain one:-
Click on the scan or photo to enlarge them
* At just £5 plus £3 P&P for such a beautiful hard back book you can’t go wrong…….
Editor’s Note – I was born on Orchard Road Kirkby-in-Ashfield and lived in the Town until the age of 6 in 1964. I return every now and again as I still have a relative living there. The photo above was taken on one such visit. My maternal grandparents – Walter & Annie Calladine – lived at 31 Urban Road where my Mum Sheila also lived until marriage to my Dad – George – who was from Hampden Street and the son of Bill & Nellie Robertson. I live in ‘exile’ in Lydiate on Merseyside as a consequence of my Dad working in and managing shops for the former travel agents Thomas Cook starting in Nottingham until his retirement from their Southport shop. I’m a railway enthusiast as a consequence of watching trains with Grandad Calladine at the former Station Street level crossing in the early 1960’s.
I’m a Kirkby lad although I’ve not lived there since 1964. I’m talking about Kirkby-In-Ashfield Nottinghamshire by the way.
The other day I ordered a booklet titled ‘Steaming Back To Kirkby Loco – Poetry & Motion’ by Keith Murray and David Amos. To be honest I was not sure what would be mailed back to me but at £3.50 including postage it was worth a punt to try to reconnect myself with my childhood train watching with Grandad Walter Calladine at the Town’s former level crossing on Station Street. I’ve blogged about my memories of this previously and here’s a couple of links:-
So to the booklet which I note has been supported in its production by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It includes quite a number of photos which I’d not seen before of Kirkby Motive Power Depot, the adjacent Kirkby-in-Asfield Station (East) and Summit Colliery. Many of these photos are in the Care of Kirkby Heritage Centre which has a shop unit on Kingsway in the Town. But the interesting twist in this booklet is that much of the story of the loco shed and those who worked at it is told using poetry and prose and it’s done very well too. There’s a colour photo on page 42 of The Station Street level crossing in the early 1960’s by Graham Upchurch with people standing at the gates watching and waiting for a train to pass and gates to open again. That shot could easily have me as a 4 to 6 year old and Grandad Walter in it.
My uncle Ken Calladine was I understand a driver on the railway and I think he was based at Kirkby Shed. Unfortunately I don’t know any detail of his work but maybe someone out there can fill in the blanks?
I enjoyed the booklet which really did reconnect me with my childhood in Kirkby and my lifelong love of trains. On the very last page there’s a couple of photos of Keith Murray’s OO scale model of Kirkby Loco Shed and Kirkby-in-Ashfield Station (East) at a 2019 Elizabethan Model Railway Society event. I’d really love to see that………. I’ve found a You Tube video from an exhibition held by the Society back in 2018 and if you run the video from 9 minutes in you’ll see the excellent Kirkby layout:-
Well worth the read, if you have a connection with Kirkby-in-Ashfield. I gained my copy by sending a £3.50 cheque payable to Mine2Minds Education and included my contact details and address to David Amos, Mine2Minds Education, 46 Lawrence Avenue, Eastwood, NG16 3LD
And if you have a moment have a look and listen to this song on You Tube Video by Dave Goulder all about the famous Kirkby turntable accident:-