The Cromford Canal

Thursday morning, we walked down from the hotel to Cromford Mills, less than half-a-mile away.  These mills were the site of the first cotton-spinning machine invented by Richard Arkwright.  This whole stretch of the Derwent Valley and its mills has been designated as a World Heritage Site – a slight contrast to the pyramids and the Taj Mahal, but nonetheless the birthplace of the industrial revolution and of the factory system of production.  As well as a museum, there was a interesting line of shops to explore.

We discovered that our hotel had been built by Sir Richard as his home, but he had never lived there.  And we found this description of the great man – it seems to describe a number of my friends (ignoring the Lancashire bit)….

A few yards away was the terminus of the Cromford Canal, and the old wharf buildings have been restored.  Unfortunately the narrow boat was fully booked, so we walked for a mile and a half along the canal and then back (much better for us both, really.)

Once again the railway enthusiast’s instinct cut in.  Along the canal, the main A6 road, the canal and the Derby to Buxton railway (originally the Midland Railway line to Manchester, before Dr Beeching axed it north of Buxton) ran side by side.  Unfortunately, the main line service was one an hour, and always went past at a bad spot for photography.

However, a mile or so along the towpath, we came across High Peak Junction, terminus of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, and one of the oldest railway workshops (and certainly the oldest in existence) in the world.  The CHPR was an eccentric backwater, that remained in operation until 1967 serving quarries in the area.  Features included a number of rope operated inclines, and the steepest – 1 in 14 – locomotive operated gradient in the UK.  For many years, it was operated by the pretty little North London Railway 0-6-0T’s, moved there by the LMS in the 1930’s.

The workshops have been restored.

There is an exhibition in these two ex-LMS brake vans.

And beyond them is the start of the Cromford Incline, now part of the High Peak walking trail.

One of two water towers on the site.  There was no steady water supply on the high level lines above this incline, so water for the locomotives (isolated at the high level) was carried up to them in old locomotive tenders.

The engine shed has been well preserved.


Inside the workshops is this nice model of the site.  A bit old and battered, but built to scale and giving a very good impression of how the site would have looked.  Below, the incline starts at the top of the picture, behind the buildings.


Now, the river banks are well vegetated, with mature trees having grown since closure in 1967.  The left bank of the canal where the picnic umbrellas are is the same area as where the tracks are being lifted in the model above.

A little further along the canal is a fine transhipment building, to load the barges from railway wagons.  The railway used to run behind this shed and onward to join the main Midland line with a junction and interchange sidings.

We walked a little further, across an aqueduct over the Derwent, then retraced our steps.  We got half way up the hotel drive before the heavens opened with a short sharp shower!

And here is a dreadful warning.  Perhaps this could be modified as a notice for layouts at exhibitions???

So that’s OUR holiday snaps.  It was an excellent week away, and we came back having eaten too much, talked too much, and walked about right.  And I’ll hand back to Allan and Ron for a few more days.

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Crich Tramway Village – 2

I was surprised at just how many trams there were in the tram shed, all available for operation.  They come from all over the UK, and a few from Europe, including this Berlin tram….

And one, if I remember rightly, one from Portugal.

The rest, I confess that I didn’t note down where they came from, just enjoyed the experience of seeing so many well preserved vehicles.


But there was one interloper, with this very early bus….

And I can spot a New York trolley…

Outside there is an interesting traverser to access the shed and the exhibition hall on the other, near, side of the traverser.

Entering the exhibition hall, there are even more trams to enjoy.  Here, there’s a classic Leeds Horsfield tram far left. The single decker hasn’t suffered a spelling mistake on the destination blind – it’s from the Hague.  And a very modern looking design for one built in the 1930’s.  UK tram design does, on the whole, seem to have lagged behind Europe.


A snow sweeper service car, again from Europe.

And outside, some fine trackwork.  Anyone want to build this in ‘N’?

Time for an ice cream (very good too, lemon and ginger flavour)….

Then time for a second tram ride…

An excellent visit, and I’d happily go back to do it all again.  Strongly recommended!

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Crich Tramway Village – 1

A week’s holiday with Maxine for a reunion of old Hong Kong friends started in Milton Keynes, where we stayed for the weekend and caught up with three lots of friends and family.  However, any keen railway enthusiast will track down trains.  Visiting one of MK’s parks, I quickly found the Caldecotte Miniature Railway.  It was closed for a private party, but I sneaked this quick shot.

Monday morning, on to Matlock Bath, to find a hotel called a ‘castle’ and with this view from the bedroom window.

Tuesday morning found us at Crich Tramway museum (surprise, surprise).  This bridge was just like it had been when we visited over 36 years ago (BC – before children).  We thought that we had saved a lot of money, entering both as seniors and having a half-price voucher donated by Mr Atfield.  However, our (more) elderly companions got in for £5.50 each as they had sticks.  Memo to self – buy stick – not white (yet.)

The tram shed and exhibition hall would be visited later…..

But the first priority was a tram ride there and back.  We travelled on this early London tram.

Also in use was this 4-wheeled Glasgow vehicle.  I suppose you have to learn to drive the thing?

Off we go, riding a mile into the country to the end of the line.


And back, passing the Glasgow tram on the way.

After the excitement of a tram ride, it was coffee time, followed by a pit stop….

We watched a few trams pass along the main street, then crossed the road to look into the workshops.


The workshops are very well presented, with a gallery to allow one to see the preservation work and maintenance currently under way, and displays showing the birth of tramways.


We emerged to find this lovely line of Morris 1000’s plus a Rolls Royce of similar vintage parked outside the pub.

Next stop, the tram sheds, but that will be next time.

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Thirteen hardy members turned up for the ESNG AGM on Wednesday.  A useful meeting, though our past president was probably turning in his grave as we failed to match the procedures of a multinational boardroom.

Best outcome was probably a new move to encourage module building by having working evenings – still running trains but encouraging members to come and build something as well.  We’ll see how they go….

But we need to move from business to trains.   Here are a couple of Brian’s recent videos of the real thing…

Just back from the Harz Mountains! Eight changes of train on the way back …..

A busy junction in Wernigerode:

And a history of Horley:

For those who like history (with a bit of railway thrown in), here’s a project I worked on last year called ‘Horley Now and Then’, which takes in the station being built and ye olde level crossing:

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Our regular holiday interlude – 9

I’m convinced Ron is auditioning for a job as a weatherman.  Watch out for hurricanes?

A sunny day becoming cloudy in the afternoon. Travelled through Emmental travelling from Thun to Burgdorf and hence to Langental for the long way round to Solothurn. We returned to Berne but had to suffer a rail replacement bus for part of the journey. On our returm to Interlaken Allan went straight back to the hotel but Rom went up Harder Kulm first.

Emmental (where are the tunnels to match the cheese?)



Views from Harder Kulm


Harder Kulm restaurant


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Our regular holiday interlude – 8

Looks like rain stopped play today – at least theoretically.  And hence rather less photographs than usual.  I was going to save Allan’s transport photos till later, but I’ve included his record of Zurich.

Woke up this morning to a thunderstorm and saw on tv that the weather forecast was for rain and thunderstorms so we decided to have a day on the trains. Changing at Interlaken we went to Basle from there to Zurich and back via Bern and Interlaken. Until we got back to Lauterbrunnen where it was raining we only saw sunny weather. However we are now on our balcony looking out on a sunny afternoon. Memo. Swiss weathermen can be trusted as much as their UK counterparts.

Basle to Zurich. The first photo is Rheinfelden station. Did not get off to visit Feldschlossen brewery.  (Such self control, I’m most impressed – ed.)

      Around Zurich Hbf


And a pleasant hour trainspotting at Zurich Hbf


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Our regular holiday interlude – 7

Back to Allan & Ron’s Switzerland visit for a few posts…

Started off cool but became sunny. We set off via Spiez and the Lotschberg base tunnel to Brig where we caught the Postbus over the Simplon Pass to Domodossola in Italy. We had a 45 minutes break before catching direct train back to Spiez through the original Lotschberg summit tunnel. When we exited the tunnel at Kandersteg it was raining but this stopped before we got back to Spiez. Back in Lauterbrunnen the roads are wet but the sun is shining again.



Simplon Pass


Simplon pass from Brig Station

Unattended Swiss custom booth on Simpson Pass (what about the ‘backstop’ I hear all the Brexiteers cry)

Views from south ramp of the Lotschberg


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