New book journeys into history of Buxton to Uttoxeter railway line

Buxton Station, May 1953
Buxton Station, May 1953

Some of the Peak District’s lost railway stations have been brought back to life in a stunning new photographic album.

Uttoxeter to Buxton (via Ashbourne) is one of the latest in a series of books offering a pictorial journey down memory lane for rail buffs.

Featuring around 120 photographs - the majority of which are unpublished - it explores the history of the line which for 70 years provided an important passenger and freight link for rural communities to the south of Buxton.

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The 96-page book has been written and researched by Vic Mitchell, the founder of West Sussex-based publisher Middleton Press, which has published around 500 similar regional railway albums.

Vic’s lifelong interest in the railways saw him involved in reviving the Ffestiniog Railway in the 1950s and, more recently, campaigning to reopen a railway line between Guildford and Horsham.

He said sourcing the historical photographs for the books was always more challenging when the railway lines no longer exist, a job expertly handled by his friend Keith Smith.

“But the fascination is always greater when the line has long since closed,” Vic explained.

“The changing effects of railways on their communities is something we dwell upon, particularly from a historical point of view.

“I found (Uttoxeter to Buxton) to be a fascinating route, never having travelled on it, and seeing pictures of people in the river next to the station at Ashbourne (for the Shrovetide football), I have to admit was a great surprise.”

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Sections of the railway which formed the line between Buxton and Uttoxeter were initially opened in stages, the last of which was between Parsley Hay and Ashbourne in 1899, offering the promise of an alternative route between Manchester and London.

Upon leaving Buxton, the line served stations at Higher Buxton, Hindlow, Dowlow Halt, Hurdlow, Parsley Hay, Hartington, Alsop-en-le-Dale, Tissington and Thorpe Cloud. Virtually all trace of these intermediate stops has long since disappeared.

Regular passenger services were withdrawn in 1954 and the line eventually closed in the late 1960s, with the trackbed between Parsley Hay and Ashbourne reinvented as the Tissington Trail. The preserved signal box at Hartington offers a reminder of the area’s rail heritage for walkers and cyclists.

The track between Buxton and Hindlow - crossing the landmark Hogshaw and Dukes Drive viaducts - remains in use by freight traffic serving the nearby quarries.

Vic and Keith team up again for their most recent album, Cromford & High Peak by Rail and Trail, which explores the line which primarily carried minerals and goods between the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge and the Cromford Canal. The lines from Buxton to Stockport, and from Ambergate to Buxton, also feature in separate publications.

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Vic added: “The appeal of the style (of the albums) is that the pictures are all in journey order and at each stop they are in date order. Now that is unique in transport publishing, and it makes it so comforting to sit down in an armchair and enjoy the journey.”

The albums are available in hardback format from Middleton Press, priced £18.95. Visit www.middletonpress.co.uk.