Rowsley railway heritage groups to mark anniversary with open day

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Heritage rail volunteer groups will hold a special event this weekend to mark 50 years since the Matlock to Buxton line was closed.

The Peak Rail Association will offer a rare opportunity to access the locomotive shed and workshop at Rowsley South station on Sunday, July 1, so people can see how it all works, and meet the team.

Partners from the LMS Carriage Association and the Heritage Shunters Trust will open up their restoration workshops and turntable for guided tours too, along with a host of other exhibits and attractions.

Peak Railway Association chairman Roger Hallatt said: “It’s not really to commemorate or celebrate, but to remind people where we were left 50 years ago, and what has been achieved in the 25 years since we started operating on the line again.”

The Matlock to Buxton link was once part of an alternate route from London to Manchester via the Midlands, which eventually came to be seen as unprofitable.

Roger said: “This line was not included in the Beeching report which saw so many others close, but when they electrified the West Coast Main Line it was allowed to go into decline.

“There was a lot of local opposition, and it had a massive impact — especially at Rowsley, which only existed because of the railway sheds and yards that were closed.”

He added: “It was a missed opportunity too. The scenery on the route is stunning, and it has meant the vast majority of traffic through the national park has been by road.”

The association, which is the volunteer arm of the Peak Rail heritage business, was born out of a group which first met in 1975 and has played a key role in reviving the line’s fortunes.

Roger said: “When they started there was no track or signals, and bridges were missing, and it has all been rebuilt in the years since.

“We still hope to expand northwards, but the generation born and raised with steam is getting older now so we are working on a strategy to recruit new volunteers.

“Hopefully people will come along this weekend and find out more about the opportunities and training we offer, and what a friendly community they could be part of.”

Steam and diesel engines will be departing Rowsley South for Matlock via Darley Dale at 11am, 12.14pm, 1.28pm, 2.42pm and 3.56pm, and returning in the opposite direction 32 minutes later.

Fares for all-day travel will be £5 for adults, £4.50 for seniors, and £2.75 for children aged three to 15. Car parking at Rowsley will be free.

For more information, visit www.peakrail.co.uk.