Plant, K. P.: The Ashover Light Railway
Book Number: 11890
The Oakwood Press Lingfield, Surrey, England 1965 88 Pages with Black/White Photos & Line Drawings - The Ashover Light Railway was a 1 ft 11 1/2 in (597 mm) narrow gauge railway in Derbyshire, England that connected Clay Cross and Ashover. It was built by the Clay Cross Company to transport minerals such as limestone, fluorite, barytes and gritstone to its works at Clay Cross and for transport around the country by the LMS. George Stephenson surveyed the route for the North Midland Railway between Derby and Leeds in the 1830s. The route passed close to Ashover where Stephenson saw the potential for the development of a colliery. He formed George Stephenson & Company in 1837 and built a colliery and coke ovens at Clay Cross which opened in 1840. The company passed to his son Robert Stephenson on George's death in 1848, and in 1852 he sold his shares, the business becoming the Clay Cross Company, which was at one time the largest independent employer in the UK. The company continued to develop its mining interests and in 1918 it purchased the Overton Estate at Fallgate with the aim of extracting minerals. An order under the Light Railways Act was obtained in 1918 to build a standard gauge railway between the Midland Railway station at Stretton and Ashover, with a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge rope-worked mineral railway serving Alton colliery. This railway was not built because the cost estimates were too high. Instead in 1920 H. F. Stephens, the consulting engineer for the line, proposed building the entire railway to 2 ft gauge. This considerably reduced the costs of construction and the plan was approved. Construction started in 1922 and the railway opened to goods traffic in 1924. The formal opening to passenger traffic took place in March 1925. The line was built using surplus equipment from the War Department Light Railways. Although the line was built principally to carry mineral traffic, its passenger service proved successful during the mid-1920s, but competition from buses saw numbers decline and Winter services ceased in 1934. All passenger services were withdrawn in 1936, but the four large bogie carriages built by Gloucester RC&W survived through WW2, and all ended up as stands on the Works bowling green. One was scrapped in 1960, two were moved to the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, and are numbered Nos 1 and 2. No 4 was moved to the Golden Valley Light Railway. By default, and with no proof, carriage No 3 was the one that was scrapped in 1960. The mineral traffic continued but the railway declined through the 1940s. In 1949 the railway's last remaining contract with Butts quarry was terminated and the quarry closed in 1950. The railway closed on 31 March 1950. Most of the rail remained in place through October of that year when a last inspection trip was made. After that the majority of the railway was lifted. However a short length was left in place around the Fallgate works. This remnant track continued to be used until 1968.