|A small ladder leans against one of Scarcliffe Station’s lamp posts,
suggesting that the lamp is in need of paraffin.
PHOTOS: TREVOR SKIRREY COLLECTION
An ambitious scheme was conceived by William Arkwright – a local landowner - and other Victorian planners to connect and develop the great coal fields of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It would bring together the east and west coasts, 175 miles apart, passing through
After five years, a line was finally laid from Langwith Junction (later called Shirebrook North) to
In less than 60 years, the very pits which the line was intended to serve wreaked havoc upon it by subsidence, bringing about its quick demise. The terrain was most uneven, necessitating the erecting of bridges, viaducts and tunnels.
The most costly construction between
A special tunnel gang was employed seven days a week, keeping it maintained and under observation. In 1942, only 45 years after its opening, the Up line was deemed unsafe due to water erosion of the north wall, meaning all trains would now travel on the Down line. A single line system was introduced (key token working) and the signal boxes at Scarcliffe and Bolsover Stations were modified to allow this. A leather pouch would be handed to the driver by the signalman containing that ‘key token’ ensuring that his was the only train on that stretch of line.In that year, the Royal Train from
|The 8:24 ‘school train’ leaves with young passengers bound for Chesterfield Grammar School.|
In 1947, a passenger timetable ran:
Probably the first and last station master to be appointed at Scarcliffe Station was a bewhiskered Mr Hunt where he, his wife and three children lived in the newly-built four bedroomed house, situated at the entrance to the station premises which boasted a huge white gate. The Great Central’s station houses were unmistakable in their Edwardian style; built to last.The station’s pretty island platform contained tiny gardens of roses and bright mesembryanthemums and was the recipient of many ‘Best Kept Station’ awards which were framed and proudly displayed in the waiting room. Quite and achievement considering the number of stations between there and
|The station, viewed from the signal box.|
The historic snows of 1947 not only disrupted life at Scarcliffe but the whole of
The force of water washed away yards of ballast from beneath the track and trains were cancelled again. It was many days before fresh ballast was replaced and normal working resumed.Serious as this was, a huge embankment slip at Arkwright stopped the line for weeks. Passengers detrained at Bolsover and a bus service was provided onwards to
In 1951, a decade before the ruthless Dr Beeching took delight in closing many important branch lines, the expensive Bolsover Tunnel was finally declared unsafe. Further maintenance work would be ineffectual as the water ingress was unstoppable. It ran more determinedly through the brickwork and the metals themselves had a tendency to creep due to subsidence. Trains maintaining a strict speed limit were almost scraping the tunnel sides. The end was near. All staff were notified that other places of work would be found for them. The local press publicised the news that from
And the village folk of Scarcliffe were obviously saddened. The line was still a vital link to those far-away places. There being far fewer cars in those days left for quiet and dreamy roads lined with the sweet fragrance of
And so at the train departed Chesterfield Market Place for the last time. Being on duty that evening to signal it through (it did not halt at Scarcliffe), I watched as it slowly passed by, leaving a skein of smoke drifting across the platform and, through condensated windows, discerned a few railway enthusiasts riding the train for nostalgia’s sake. It was . The engine sounded a long and final whistle to everyone at Scarcliffe before rounding the curve on its way to Shirebrook; its small red tail light - bobbing and flickering slowly - disappeared into the December darkness.Sunday morning I opened the signal box for the final time to allow engines and wagons up to the station, crowded with gangs of men with dismantling equipment. The tunnel portals and ventilation shafts were sealed at both ends. The station buildings, furniture, signals and signal box – together with the green-painted iron footbridge – were hastily removed and, in three weeks, it was all but a memory, save for my first Train Register which I salvaged from a dusty pile beneath the frame.
|The remnants of a railway station - Scarcliffe, summer 1952.|