Three blasts on a whistle marked the end of an era in Buxton.
At 6.25pm on Friday March 3, 1967, the final passenger steam train pulled into Buxton Station, dead on time and packed with rail enthusiasts.
“The station platform was thick with train-spotters of every age, from children to greying men and grandmothers, students to pensioners, all of them exhilarated, and a little saddened by the occasion,” reported the following weeks’ Buxton Advertiser & Herald.
The train had been driven from Manchester Central to Buxton by Eric Rickman, of Milnbank Avenue, Fairfield, with David Plant, of West Road, Buxton, as his fireman.
“Their passengers discharged,” the newspaper continued, “they chatted with the hordes who invaded the cab for a few minutes, and then the guard’s light flashed, the whistle blew, and the last steam locomotive to bring passengers into Buxton hissed and shuddered its way back into the gathering gloom.”
There was further sadness to come two days later with the closure of the Buxton Midland to Millers Dale line. The last departure - a diesel driven by Jim Gilman, of Davenham Avenue - departed at 9.16pm and was packed with over 100 railway enthusiasts on the short journey, many of them sporting black ties.
Among those travelling was local stationmaster P. J. McCarthy who, with everyone else, also witnessed the last London-bound train draw into Millers Dale and set off again.
All that was left was for the diesel to return for the final time to Buxton’s Midland Station, arriving at 9.56pm. True to tradition, the train had arrived three minutes late.
The closing of the Buxton Midland to Millers Dale line, and the ending of steam trains to Manchester, was part of the curtailment in the North West of passenger services which for months were fought, without success, by the Peak Park Planning Board, local councillors and other interested bodies.