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5 & 6: The High Peak Railtours of 1953

The reason for the title of this article being in the plural is because the original tour, on the 25th of April, was a complete sell out. It was decided to re-run the whole thing on a slightly grander scale with more open wagons for the Cromford and High Peak section and an extra passenger coach from Friden. The repeat trip ran on the 27th of June.

The participants gathered just after 10am at Matlock Station where they were transferred by bus to Cromford Wharf to visit the workshops. This location is now confusingly referred to as High Peak Junction on an Ordnance Survey map. The junction of that name is, of course, where the CHPR made its connection with the Midland main line a mile to the south.

After the workshop inspection the next destination was Sheep Pasture Top, reached on foot after a climb of 1,320 yards at 1 in 9 and 1 in 8. Anyone visiting the area can do the same walk today. It's guaranteed to raise the pulse!

At the top the trippers took to open wagons for the first time and were taken by Kitson saddle tank no 47000 to Middleton Foot where another formidable walk to the engine house at the top of the incline was undertaken.

After visiting the engine house at Middleton Top lunch was taken at Wirksworth, which was reached on foot. A round trip to Duffield behind 58077 then ensued, allowing everyone a rest before the walk back to Middleton Top.
The photograph above shows the ex-Midland 0-4-4T at Duffield about to return to Wirksworth during the April trip.

The tour train is pictured near Longcliffe on the journey to Friden. What a magnificent array of period motor cars are on view in the foreground. It can be appreciated from this photograph what an important role the weather played in the enjoyment of this trip!

  58856 approaches the stop board at Friden.

  At Friden the trippers exchanged the open wagons for the comfort of ex LMS passenger stock. The headboard is being fitted to 3F no 43618 of Buxton shed. 58856 can be seen in the distance, it's work over for the day.

This location was always the furthest point that main line engines could venture on the High Peak line due to the extremely sharp curves, Gotham being the most severe at two and a half chains radius.

(The two tours that year featured almost the same locomotives, the only exception being on this leg. This is the April excursion. In June 43387 did the honours.)

This loco will now be in charge for the rest of the trip which will be Friden- Parsley Hay- Hindlow- Old Harpur- Ladmanlow- back to Hindlow, then Hindlow to Buxton where the days activities will conclude.

Approaching Ladmanlow in June.

The April tour reaches Ladmanlow behind 43618. Note that only three coaches were used on this occasion compared to the four that were used in June.

All photographs are from the MLS archives.

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Last updated December 2023 Comments welcome: