Ilkeston, situated on the south-eastern border of Derbyshire, has a rich industrial heritage in coal mining, iron works and textiles, all of which have disappeared in the last few decades. Originally the canals were the means by which goods were transported, but in the 1800s the Erewash railway line was financed for the purposes of carrying coal.
Erewash Valley Line
The Erewash Valley Line has historic, but troubled, origins. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Nottinghamshire coalminers had a lucrative trade with Leicester using the Erewash Canal, the River Trent and the Leicester Navigation. The Leicester miners had attempted to compete by building the Charnwood Forest Canal but this was unsuccessful. However, in 1832, they opened the Leicester and Swannington Railway.
The Nottinghamshire miners already had a tramway, the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway. They attempted to raise the funds for a railway to Leicester but found it difficult to attract investors. Their ideas developed into a line linking Nottingham to Derby and Leicester which would carry their coal from the Erewash Valley. This was the beginning of the Midland Counties Railway, and they attracted the attention of Lancashire and Yorkshire financiers. The idea developed further into a connection to the London and Birmingham Railway at Rugby. However, a proposed connection from the north of the Erewash to Chesterfield was its undoing, since it would compete with the North Midland Railway.
The building of the Midland Counties Railway went ahead without the Erewash Valley Line. However, in 1844, the Midland Railway was formed through the amalgamation of the North Midland, the Midland Counties and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway. The Midland almost immediately acquired the "Leicester and Swannington" and the "Mansfield and Pinxton".
Finally in 1844 it built the Erewash Valley line as far as Pinxton in 1847, with a link to the Butterley Company's own railway at Codnor Park in 1849. The line was finally completed to Chesterfield in 1862. It was immediately successful, not only serving the collieries but also the ironworks and brickworks around Ripley, particularly the Butterley Company. By the end of the century, it was also carrying main-line expresses from London to Leeds and Settle and Carlisle Line services to Scotland, while the main line to Derby served the expresses to Manchester, and the main line to Nottingham used the Corby line from Kettering and ran through the now closed Old Dalby line diverting near Melton Mowbray.
Ilkeston Junction & Cossall Station
Ilkeston Junction and Cossall railway station was a railway station which served the town of Ilkeston in Derbyshire, England. It was opened in 1847 by the Midland Railway on the Erewash Valley Line at the junction of a short branch to the town itself.
The original station closed in 1870 to be rebuilt further north in response to the arrival of the Great Northern Railway (Great Britain) Derbyshire Extension line through its station which was later known as Ilkeston North railway station was a former railway station in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. It was opened by the Great Northern Railway (Great Britain) on its Derbyshire Extension in 1878 and closed in 1964.
From Awsworth the line crossed the Erewash Valley by means of the impressive Bennerley Viaduct which has been partly preserved. It then made the climb to Ilkeston before crossing the Nut Brook towards West Hallam. At Stanton Junction lines led northwards to Heanor and southwards to Stanton Ironworks. Ilkeston at one time had three stations, Ilkeston Town being on a branch leading from the Midland Railway's Erewash Valley Line at the third station, Ilkeston Junction and Cossall North. The new station opened on 1st July 1879.
It carried a shuttle service to Ilkeston Town railway station which was never particularly popular since the GNR provided a direct main line service. Some services were also provided to Nottingham and Chesterfield. Since the latter passed through the north curve of the junction, they were unable to call at the station. The same was true of Nottingham trains when they ran on the short-lived branch between Bennerley Junction and Basford.
In the Grouping of all lines (into four main companies) in 1923 the station became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway .
The branch closed in 1960 and the tracks were lifted, with the junction station closing in 1967. Since then there have been several proposals for a new station on the Erewash Line in more or less the same location, the latest of which (in 2012) seems fairly likely to come about. Ilkeston is often quoted in the press as being 'the largest town in England without a railway station'.
Ilkeston Town Station
Ilkeston Town railway station was a railway station which served the town of Ilkeston in Derbyshire, England. it was opened in 1847 by the Midland Railway on a short branch from the Erewash Valley Line.
It carried a shuttle service from Ilkeston Junction which was never particularly popular since the GNR provided a direct main line service. Some services were also provided to Nottingham and Chesterfield. From 1882 the former were routed along the Bennerley Junction route to Basford, with six services a day, but the they ended at the beginning of the First World War.
The branch had closed to passengers by the late 1940's and goods operations had ceased by 1960. The tracks were lifted and the footbridge removed. The site is now occupied by a roundabout at the end of Ilkeston's Chalons Way by-pass and a large Tesco supermarket. The route of the track roughly followed the recently built road named 'Millership Way'.
Ilkeston North Station
Ilkeston North railway station was a former railway station in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. It was opened by the Great Northern Railway (Great Britain) on its Derbyshire Extension in 1878 and closed in 1964.
From Awsworth the line crossed the Erewash Valley by means of the impressive Bennerley Viaduct which has been partly preserved. It then made the climb to Ilkeston before crossing the Nut Brook towards West Hallam. At Stanton Junction lines led northwards to Heanor and southwards to Stanton Ironworks. Ilkeston at one time had three stations, Ilkeston Town being on a branch leading from the Midland Railway's Erewash Valley Line at the third station, Ilkeston Junction and Cossall.
Closure of the last station
During the war the lines were heavily used as part of the war effort, and in 1955 the Modernisation Plan, under Labour’s British Transport Commission (BTC), was unveiled where a proposed £1,240 million (£24 billion in 2012) would be spent restoring the infrastructure through a series of maintenance projects. More importantly, the plans would put railways back in profit in the wake of competition from other forms of transport such as cars and buses.
By 1962 the Modernisation Plan was in crisis, with operating losses spiraling, the economics of the railway deteriorating, inflation rising, and substantial borrowed funds exasperating the situation. The BTC found itself with debts of £104 million (£1.65 billion in 2012) and the Labour government, looking for a fast solution, commissioned a report which would detail a series of railway cuts to recoup some of the losses. The least used lines and stations would be closed with a complete withdrawal of services. Over half of the country’s stations were shut down and 5,000 miles of track became redundant.
In 1964 Ilkeston was amongst some 2000 stations to feel the force of “Beeching’s Axe”.
» Beeching Axe railway cuts of the 1960s
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