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Railway Restoration Team Nearing Completion of Line

from: http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/VIDEO-25-year-labour-love-nears-end-rail-project/story-19655401-detail/story.html#axzz2bxtKmmof

: 25-year labour of love nears end for rail project

 
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Derby Telegraph

THERE is light at the end of the tunnel for volunteers who have spent more than 25 years working to restore a Derbyshire railway line.

The Steeple Grange Light Railway line, from Steeple Grange to Middleton-by-Wirksworth, was abandoned in 1967.

 
  1. ?Above, volunteers on the project from left are, John Morrissey, Mike Naden, chairman Martin Smith, Michael Gibson, Robin Record and Robin Jeffcoat, geologist and ecologist. Right, Martin Smith, Mike Naden and Robin Jeffcoat, with a train on the track

    Above, volunteers on the project from left are, John Morrissey, Mike Naden, chairman Martin Smith, Michael Gibson, Robin Record and Robin Jeffcoat, geologist and ecologist. Right, Martin Smith, Mike Naden and Robin Jeffcoat, with a train on the track

But railway enthusiasts have worked hard to rebuild the line and now they only have about 200 yards of the track left to complete.

Martin Smith, chairman of the Steeple Grange Light Railway group, said: "I'm delighted with it. It has been an enjoyable but long process.

"It's every little boy's dream to have their own railway."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Smith said the idea to rebuild the line came during a night school class 27 years ago.

He said: "I used to go to night classes in Matlock to study the history of Derbyshire railways.

"Some bright spark knew about the history of the Steeple Grange railway and said why don't we make our own history and build our own railway – and that's where it all started."

The first task the group had to clear the line.

Mr Smith said: "When we first started the line had been abandoned for 20 years. It had become easier to transport limestone by road.

"We had to clear all of the undergrowth and shrubbery. A lot had to be done.

"On a prepared ground level, we spread a layer of ballast – crushed limestone – then we put down wooden sleepers. We used British Railway sleepers cut into three.

"We secured the rails on to the sleepers, making them the right width, otherwise the train would fall off."

He said the group had managed to recover rail stock from Ladywash mine, in Eyam, as well as from Carsington Water and British Coal.

He added: "Sometimes the rail stock was donated, sometimes we had to pay for it.

"One of the members of the class just happened to be the deputy mine manager at the Middleton mine.

"A few people had worked on railways and we got expert advice as well."

But the railway line has a steep gradient, meaning the job has taken much longer than expected.

Mr Smith said: "We anticipated it would be finished long before this.

"It has always had a very steep gradient and we have had to build an embankment to help so that there is no chance of runaway trains, which would be catastrophic.

"We have had to measure the difference in height all the way along.

"We hope it will be finished in a couple of years' time."

Although the line is not completely finished, two trains operate regularly at weekends taking passengers down a branch line to Steeplehouse Quarry, which was completed five years ago.

Robin Jeffcoat, a retired geologist who has worked on the project, said: "It's brilliant. It will be wonderful when it's all done."

QUARRY WAS ONCE SITE OF TROPICAL SEA

AS part of the project, a branch line to Steeplehouse Quarry was completed five years ago and now runs regular weekend trips.

Robin Jeffcoat, a retired geologist and volunteer on the project, said passengers who travel along the railway line are given an insight into the quarry's past.

The 68-year-old, of Belper, said: "Before it was Steeplehouse quarry, around 330 million years ago, it was a tropical sea.

"Derbyshire was in a different place and was 10 to 15 degrees south to the Equator.

"It moved because of the plate tectonics. This means that there are fossils in the quarry.

"We can find the remains of fossil fish and the skin teeth of a shark.

"When I have been working on the railway I have found a number of fossils, corals and minerals.

"When people visit the Steeplehouse quarry I give them a 20-minute talk all about the geology and fossils in the area."

Mr Jeffcoat said the area was an interesting place for people to visit.

"I used to come to the railway when I lived in Burton around 1966," he said.

"I used to see the railway and see the trains coming down the line.

"It will be lovely to see the trains coming down the Middleton line once again."



Read more: http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/VIDEO-25-year-labour-love-nears-end-rail-project/story-19655401-detail/story.html#ixzz2bxtdAU10
 

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