8th April 2021 · Cromford and High Peak Railway, Part Two

Presenter: Brian Sullivan

Our eleven months’ extra wait for this talk was very worthwhile when 52 members and guests finally enjoyed Brian Sullivan’s “return” to Newcastle on Thursday 8th April to present Part Two of The Cromford and High Peak Railway. The evening focussed on Sheep Pasture and Middleton Inclines and covered the construction, architecture, engineering and operation of this most distinctive section of the route, which you have to be very fit to walk today! Initially powered by the Butterley Company’s beam engines, the inclines provided the link from the quarries of the High Peak to their markets in the Midlands and beyond, the level section between them being the workplace of a variety of generally four coupled steam locomotives often of great age. The skills of the “hangers on” who attached the wagons and water tenders to the continuous hawsers were shown, making sure the up and downhill loads were as balanced as possible, along with the primitive but effective means of communication from top to bottom. Besides the fascinating details of the day-to-day operations, we also heard stories of mishaps including runaway wagons that ran amok and exploded beyond the foot of the 1 in 8 gradient, engine sheds being burned or blown down, and the derailment of 47000 at Steeplehouse. An excellent evening; we look forward to Brian’s return to continue the journey towards Whalley Bridge.