200 years of England’s oldest railway line marked with new exhibition

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A railway line which is the oldest still in service in England is commemorated with a new exhibition in the library.

200 years ago the Mansfield & Pinxton railway line was completed, allowing carriages to be pulled by horses along its route.

Today, as part of the Robin Hood line, it offers around 50 daily train services between Nottingham and Worksop, and according to the Office of Rail and Road, 409,294 passengers have entered and exited its busiest station – Mansfield Town – in 2017-2018.

It was the first double-track line – a railway with two tracks running in opposite directions – to be approved by Parliament, and had a “massive influence” on the introduction of these elsewhere.



An artist’s impression of the type of horse drawn carriage along the old Mansfield & Pinxton Railway (date unknown).

At a time when the canals were being extended to increase transport links, Mansfield had struggled to make this change due to his terrain and so it was decided to build a railway line from the town to Pinxton.

The railroad helped Mansfield move forward at a time when transport was increasingly steam-driven.

Denis Hill, professional historian for the Kirkby and District Archaeological Group, said: “It represents the whole development of the railways, from how people thought they could be smoother, to diesel transport.

“It has crossed the entire spectrum of all rail transport and is not really taken into account, but it has had a huge influence.

“The risk of the city [Mansfield] being left behind was caused by the way canals were used for transportation everywhere else.

“The businessmen got together and decided the only way to go forward was to build the railroad between Mansfield and Pinxton and quite frankly that saved Mansfield so the coal could still come here. from Erewash – which was especially needed when the steam trains arrived a little later. “



Kings Mill Viaduct in Mansfield, a Grade II listed monument

The railway opened in 1819 and used horse-drawn carriages until 1849, when Mansfield saw his first steam locomotive under Midlands Railway.

The original line has since been extended to further serve northern Nottinghamshire.

Archaeological excavations in areas along the railway line have uncovered the original track beds dating back to 200 years ago. Like today, they were placed in a bed of clay to create suction and keep them from moving.

While the line is operated by East Midlands Railway, the track itself is owned by Network Rail.

Denis, who is 65 and is from Mansfield, added: “After the establishment of Mansfield, the pace at which dual tracks were established in other places was tremendous.”



A scale model of the Kings Mill Viaduct in Mansfield.

Plans have been made and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exhibit at Nottingham Central Library on Angel Row to show the evolution of the railway and celebrate its 200 year history.

Objects on display include a model of the Kings Mill Viaduct located along the Mansfield & Pinxton line and an original rail of the track laid out in 1819.

Graham Upchurch, the model maker and a former Ashfield miner, said: “It took a long time to put together. I had to go to the viaduct, measure it all and take tons of pictures.

“I have lived in the area all my life and the viaduct was my playground. I wanted to do this because very little has been written about the railway line and I hope this model can spark a some interest in it in making people outside of Mansfield and Ashfield is more aware of it. “

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