Historic rail shed on Peak District's Monsal Trail reopens as heritage exhibition venue

A former freight shed in Millers Dale has officially reopened as an exhibition space telling the story of the Midland Railway and how it became the phenomenally popular Monsal Trail.

By Ed Dingwall
Monday, 1st August 2022, 1:41 pm

Former railway staff and their families joined staff and volunteers from the Peak District National Park Authority to celebrate the project which has breathed new life into the building, which was last in regular use more than half a century ago.

Among them was Betty Nesbitt, who was transported back to the 16 years she spent working as a clerk at Millers Dale goods yard, from the age of 17 until the line was closed in 1967, organising shipments of coal, quarried stone, animal fodder and other freight.

She said: “I spent many happy hours working here. It was very interesting and I enjoyed every minute.”

The opening ceremony provoked a rush of memories for former railway staff, passengers and their families.

Joyce Emsen caught the train at Millers Dale on her wedding day in 1962 and said: “We caught it just in time and one of our relatives wrote ‘Just Married’ in lipstick on the carriage as the train was pulling away.”

Supported by a grant of £320,000 from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the renovations have reinstated or recreated much of the original look and feel of the shed from its early 20th century heyday.

The full height and scale of the building is showcased under a striking new roof, with the modern addition of solar panels.

Painstaking stonemasonry craftsmanship and colossal wooden loading doors hark back to their original glory complete with red paint from the Midland’s ‘blood and custard’ livery.

How the Goods Shed looked before renovations began.

The walls are adorned with pictures and personal stories of the area’s history and a full-size replica of the line itself runs along the floor, with an audio soundscape helping to give visitors a sense of its former life.

Bernard Carter donated a photo of his uncle, who once drove steam trains along the line, and said: “It’s wonderfully nostalgic, I’m very pleased that uncle Bertie’s photo is here to be remembered for years to come.”

The Goods Shed is open and free to visit every day, weather permitting, during opening hours of the Refreshment Rooms café at Millers Dale station.

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The outline of the original track position runs the length of the building. (Photo: Phil Sproson)
Bernard Carter with his uncle Bertie on the poster. (Photo: Fiona Stubbs)
Betty Nesbit. (Photo: Tom Marshall)