Site record MDR7889 - The Cromford & High Peak Railway, High Peak and Derbyshire Dales

Type and Period (1)

  • (Georgian to Hanoverian - 1826 AD to 1831 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • World Heritage Site

Full Description

Gotham Curve (SMR 11556) is stone embanked and is the sharpest curve on the Cromford and High Peak Railway, and one of the sharpest on any British Railway. (1) The route of the railway can be followed as a footpath for most of the distance between the canal basin and SK 013 804 at the south end of Whaley Bridge. The route of an inclined plane is at SK 013 813, but no trace is left of its capstans of chains. At SK 013 805 is a stone plaque that has been erected on the site of the railway track. It is carved with a Cromford and High Peak Railway badge and below is a short section of cast iron rail. (2) The Cromford & High Peak Railway Company was incorporated by Act of Parliament on May 2nd 1825 with powers to construct a railway or tramroad from the Cromford Canal near Cromford to the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. Construction was underway by 1826. The railway was opened in two sections. The first, from Cromford Canal to Hurdlow incline foot, was opened on May 29 1830 and the second, from there to Whaley Bridge, was opened on July 6th 1831. A passenger coach was in operation by June 15 1833. However, limestone soon became the predominating traffic and remained so until the end. The line crossed large expanses of rough upland country and involved considerable engineering works. The route followed contours as far as possible and so had some sharp curves, although many of these were later straightened. A total of seven inclines and three tunnels were necessary over the full length of the railway. Spurs and valleys had to be crossed by cuttings and embankments. At first the line was worked entirely by stationary engines and by horses although it is clear that the use of steam locomotives was considered from the beginning. The earliest reference to the use of a locomotive on the line is in 1834, when one was tried between Sheep Pasture top and Middleton foot. By 1856 a locomotive was running from the top of Buxton Incline to the Hurdlow Incline, a distance of about 12 miles. Abandonment of some sections of the CHPR had already taken place by the end of the 19th century. However, the main period of abandonment was in the 1960s, in particular in 1967. Following closure, some 17 miles of the line was developed into what is now the High Peak Trail for walkers and cyclists. (3) Baxter described the Cromford & High Peak Railway as follows, 'from Cromford Wharf, east of Cromford, to an arm of the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. Opened, 1830-1831. Track, 4ft 8½ inch guage. Engine, Josias Jessop. Owner, Cromford & High Peak Railway Co., LNWR ( in 1861). Traffic, limestone and general, passengers from 1855. Closed, 1892 and 1894, some parts still (1966) in use.' (4) The Cromford and High Peak railway ran for 33 miles linking the Cromford Canal with the High Peak Canal and was intended for the transport of goods from one canal to the other, although stone from quarries along the route and passengers were also carried. The origninal intention was to link the two canals with a third canal but the cost proved too great. So Josias Jessop, son of the engineer of the Cromford Canal, came up with an alternative proposal for a rail link. By 1827 funds for the railway scheme had been raised and construction was repored to be underway. The scheme entailed using a series of 9 inclined planes, with stationary steam engines located at the top of each incline, pulling the wagons on a continuous chains located under the tracks. This railway ran until 1857 but never made any money, after which there was a major refit, which entailed merging some of the inclines. One of those mergers involved the Sheep Pasture incline with the Cromford incline. This entained the removal af the steam engines that were no longer in use. (5)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: 1975. Council of British Archaeology Panel on Industrial Monuments. 6.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1984. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part I. Borough of High Peak. p 30.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Marshall, J. 1996. The Cromford & High Peak Railway.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Baxter, B. 1966. Stone Blocks and Iron Rails.
  • <5> Unpublished document: O'Neill, R and C Swales (ARCUS). 2010. Cromford and High Peak Railway, Derbyshire: Community Excavation.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Jessop, O (ARCUS). 2004. Heritage Audit of the Peak Forest Tramway & the Cromford & High Peak Railway, Derbyshire.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SK 0126 8133 (31048m by 27094m)
Civil Parish BRASSINGTON, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish CARSINGTON, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish CROMFORD, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish HARTINGTON MIDDLE QUARTER, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish HARTINGTON NETHER QUARTER, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish HARTINGTON TOWN QUARTER, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish HOPTON, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish MIDDLETON, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish PARWICH, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish WIRKSWORTH, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish BUXTON, HIGH PEAK, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish HARTINGTON UPPER QUARTER, HIGH PEAK, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish WHALEY BRIDGE, HIGH PEAK, DERBYSHIRE
Civil Parish BALLIDON, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

  • EDR2816
  • EDR1790
  • EDR4663
  • EDR3878
  • EDR5161

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Record last edited

Nov 16 2020 10:45AM

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