Saddletank Steam engine taking water on The Cromford and High Peak Railway, Longcliffe. 1957
About this image
Taking water is no. 68034, a member of the 'J94' class, which were built during World War 2. Water for the locomotives was transported here in these tenders, which had been re-used after the engines they had been attached to became redundant.
The Cromford and High Peak Railway was opened in 1830 from Cromford to Whaley Bridge, some 33 miles. The C and HPR was built following contours in a winding route, but along the line there were several steep inclined planes, worked by stationary engines with continuous cable. Starting at Cromford the line climbed up a steep incline past Black Rocks. Between two of the amazing cable hauled inclines at Sheep Pasture and Middleton, shunting was conducted by a tiny Kitson 0-4-0 saddle tank 47007. The next section ran from Middleton, through the 113 yard limestone tunnel, to the top of the Hopton Incline. This incline, for a short section at 1 in 14, being the steepest gradient climbed by adhesion on British Railways. From the bottom, the 457 yard incline was awesome sight, with gradients increasing from 1 in 60 to 1 in 30 to 1 in 20, and for 200 yards the famous pitch of 1 in 14. In the late 1950's it was worked by 58850, an ex North London 0-6-0 tank of the Victorian era. (Fortunately this locomotive is now preserved on the Bluebell Railway). After this the train would progress towards Longcliffe, passing the stark limestone outcrops of Harboro Rocks. Then the line is reasonably flat, and even slightly downhill to Minninglow, which is approached by a sweeping curve over an impressively high limestone embankment. A half a mile from Minninglow the notorious Gotham Curve is reached. This was an 80 degree turn in the line with the tightest curve on British Railways, of only 55 yards radius, and because of this only short wheelbase wagons and small locomotives could be used on the line. A short distance beyond Gotham the Railway crossed the A5012 Road. The train guard would pull gates to cover half the road on either side of the railway. After the road crossing, came Friden and the chimneys of the Derbyshire Brick works. At Friden the locomotive of a waiting train, usually an Ivatt 2-6-0 or a Midland 4F 0-6-0, would take the Middleton train forward towards Buxton. The Middleton locomotive would then return with the empty train, at a considerably faster pace than on the uphill journey. The line finally closed in the mid 1960's. Nowadays the trackbed is a pathway. Cycles can be hired at both Middleton Top and Parsley Hay, and the length of the line from north of Parsley Hay to Cromford can be walked or cycled. Visitors may also sometimes see the beam engines run, which powered the hauling cables at Middleton Top Engine House. (This Information was extracted from the excellent www.goingloco.neave.com web site by John Neave)