REALLY SideTracked – Millers Dale for Tideswell
Flanders and Swann Slow Train event No 1
A geocaching meet-up between 3.00 and 3.30 pm on Saturday, 3 November, at the site of the old station at Millers Dale in Derbyshire.
This is the first of a series of SideTracked events based on the song Slow Train by Flanders and Swann. Written in 1963, the song laments the closure of many stations and railway lines under the Beeching cuts of that era. The song is introduced by Donald Swann reciting in a slow monotone: "Millers Dale for Tideswell — Kirby Muxloe — Mow Cop & Scholar Green", before the song starts with both Swann and Michael Flanders singing "No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe, on the Slow Train..."
Millers Dale station in 1959 looking westward towards Buxton.
The locomotive is ex-Midland 3F 0-6-0 No. 43749.
(Photo copyright Ben Brooksbank, 1957, Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike licence 2.0)
Millers Dale railway station was situated in Millers Dale in the Peak District. It was built in 1863 by the Midland Railway on its extension of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway from Rowsley.
It served an important junction where passengers for Buxton joined or left the trains between London and Manchester. It was originally to be called "Blackwell Mill" but, in the end, was named "Millers Dale for Tideswell". For such a rural location, it was unusually large; indeed, it was one of the largest stations on the line, and was one of the few stations in England to have a post office on the platform. Millers Dale also sent dairy, agricultural and quarried products from the surrounding areas to the major cities. While also serving local towns and villages—notably Tideswell, Taddington and Wormhill—much of its activity was concerned with the connecting service to and from Buxton. Traffic for Buxton actually followed the main line north for nearly two miles, before diverging at Millers Dale Junction, beside Blackwell Mill Halt.
Built on a shelf carved out of the hillside, Millers Dale station originally had two platforms, but a bay platform was added in 1905 to accommodate Buxton trains, plus the down platform became an island platform to serve the extra tracks. The new loop and the second (northerly) viaduct were opened on 20 August 1905. The old viaduct was then closed, strengthened and reopened in April 1906. Whilst the piers for the two viaducts are identical, the older viaduct is supported by an arch structure, whereas the later one is a box structure.
Part of the original Parliamentary Act approving the line considered the needs of invalids taking the waters at Buxton, and so, for a while, 'through' carriages for Buxton were attached to, and detached from, expresses, thus alleviating the problem of changing trains. In addition, the two main platforms were connected by a subway.
The station closed in 1967 but trains continued to pass through the station until 1968 when the line was closed. Since the railway was closed the station has become a car park serving the Monsal Trail, although the main buildings remain, being partly used as public toilets. The hamlet of Millers Dale is still dominated by the two large disused viaducts over the Wye valley. The older of the viaducts today forms part of the Monsal Trail, an 8.5-mile (13.7 km) walking and cycle track.
The event will allow like-minded cachers to meet up to chat, discover and swap trackables, and explore the site of the old station. Hopefully it will also be possible to listen to a recording of Slow Train.
Related web pages:
(Background images - Donald Swann and Michael Flanders in concert, 1966; disused track near Dunstable Town station in 2006, copyright Nigel Cox, CC-by-SA)