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The first section of the route between Derby and Ambergate was opened to traffic on 11th May 1840 as part of the “North Midland Railway” line to Rotherham via Chesterfield.   4th June 1849 was the official opening day of the Ambergate-Rowsley section, with passenger and coal traffic commencing running on 20th August.  Construction of the Rowsley-Manchester line commenced in September 1860.  Eventually, in 1871, the line was absorbed into the Midland Railway system.  The line through Matlock and Rowsley became an important through route between London and Manchester for the Midland Railway, but less so for its successor LMS (formed 1923), as the alternative L&NWR lines were also available to the new group.

However, nothing much changed on the line until 1962 when the infamous “Beeching Report” was published.  Many unprofitable and duplicate lines in Britain were recommended for closure.  Freight traffic was diverted via Chesterfield before local passenger services ceased in March 1967, with the closure of the following stations: Millers Dale, Bakewell, Rowsley, Darley Dale and Matlock Bath.  However, through trains from St. Pancras to Manchester continued for another year. Since that time trains run as far as Matlock where they terminate and then make the return journey.

In 1975, the Peak Railway Preservation Society was established and opened a site at the now closed Buxton Steam Centre with restoration facilities and a 300 yard operating line.  In the 1980s Peak Rail relocated its headquarters to Darley Dale and by 1991 the railway had reopened the section of line between Matlock Riverside and Darley Dale.  In 1997, the line was extended northwards to within a half-mile south of the Derbyshire village of Rowsley.  A new station was constructed next to the site of the former loco shed at Rowsley South.  With the building of the Matlock by-pass and the new Sainsbury's supermarket in the former Cawdor Quarry a new track alignment and layout was installed between Matlock Riverside and Matlock (Network Rail) station to provide a new connection to the national network.  The extension to Matlock (NR) was finally re-opened on 2 July 2011, and for most of the year, there is a regular service on Peak Rail between Matlock and Rowsley South.

These photographs were taken on 26th August 2013.


The platform at Rowsley South, the northern terminus.
This has been built by the heritage railway on an old Midland Railway locomotive yard.


Looking south towards Matlock from Rowsley South Station.


Class 44 Diesel Locomotive D8 (44008) arriving at Rowsley South with the train from Matlock.
On my visit, all services had this diesel at one end and a steam loco at the other end.
Thus no run-round was necessary at either end of the line.


Driver leaving the Class 44 Diesel Locomotive D8 (44008).


The 0-6-0 saddle tank 3883 was built in 1943 by the Hunslet Engine Company for the War Department.
It was rebuilt by the same company in 1963.


Assorted rolling stock and equipment in the sidings at Rowsley South.


The platform at intermediate station Darley Dale.


Leaving Darley Dale station for Matlock.



On the journey to Matlock.


Matlock Station which is owned by Network Rail, and is served also by East Midlands Trains to Derby and Nottingham.


3883 has just arrived at Matlock, the southern terminus of Peak Rail.
The line to the left is for East Midlands trains to Derby and Nottingham, which start and terminate at Matlock.


The outside of Matlock station.  The building immediately on the left is the Peak Rail souvenir shop.


Matlock East Midlands Trains platform, which is now a terminus.
At one time this was an LMS through route to the north.
Peak Rail trains stop on the right-hand platform 2.


 Buffer Stop at Matlock for Peak Rail trains.  East Midlands Trains head south to Derby from here.




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© Copyright M J Smith, 2013
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