Taking a railway trip back in time


A NEW book celebrates the railway history of Rotherham through old pictures, maps and documents.

A specialist publisher has focussed in on the history of rail services between Rotherham and Chesterfield over nearly two centuries, showing the changing locos, stations and routes.

It is the latest addition to a vast library of books by the company celebrating railway history across the country.

Part of Middleton Press’s Ultimate Railway Encyclopedia series, Chesterfield to Rotherham via Sheffield is one of more than 400 albums released so far and is the first specifically dealing with Rotherham.

Vic Mitchell, who co-wrote the book with Keith Smith, said: “It is full of old photographs and maps and offers an armchair journey along the route, including many interesting local details along the way.”

The 96-page Chesterfield to Rotherham via Sheffield book features 120 photographs, almost entirely previously unpublished, and costs £18.95.

Like the other books, it also features old maps of the routes used by trains over the years, old timetables and tickets and some technical information which would be of interest to rail buffs.

There is also a potted history of different sections of the route between Chesterfield and Rotherham with explanations of what each picture is showing.

The different stages of the route covered are Chesterfield, Attercliffe Road, Beauchief, Brightside, Dore and Totley, Dronfield, Heeley, Holmes, Meadowhall Interchange, Millhouses and Eccleshall, Rotherham Central, Rotherham Masborough, Rotherham Westgate, Sheepbridge, Sheffield Midland, Sheffield, Unstone, and Wincobank and Meadowhall.

Some of these stations have long gone but the pictures show life as it was back in time and would be fascinating to people who live in the areas now who will get an idea of how their local environment has changed.

Regular train users may look at the pictures in the book with a sense of nostalgia as they reminisce on how the service has changed, for the better or worse depending on personal opinions.

Rotherham’s railway past is captured in a series of atmospheric black and white images which suggest that while the steam age may have a rather romantic image today, at the time the reality was that it was smoky and dirty.

Rotherham Westgate station was the eastern terminus of the Sheffield and Rotherham Railway in the 1830s and was off Main Street on the opposite side of the River Don to Rotherham Borough Council’s Riverside House headquarters of today.

Rotherham Westgate station was closed in October 1952.

Passengers had to cross the tracks to get to the platform via a level crossing when the original stone building was erected, but a later (circa 1900) wooden station building, known as the Rabbit Hutch, gave them better access.

After it was closed, the station buildings were used to store old market stalls as the town’s market was close to it in those days.

The site of Westgate station is now occupied by the town’s postal sorting office but the branch line is still utilised by a local scrapyard.

Rotherham Masborough station may still be remembered by many people today although it was closed in October 1988. Remnants of the old station can still be seen.

Originally known as Masbrough (note the spelling) station, it opened in 1840 by the North Midland Railway, and was visited by Princess Christian and Prince Albert in April 1906.

The station was designed by Francis Thompson and had four platforms. However, bad planning in the 1970s meant that two of the platforms could not be used by trains to Sheffield without them having to reverse, making the platforms operationally useless. It also meant fast trains could not pass slower ones.

Being around half a mile from the town centre also helped seal Rotherham Masborough station’s fate and it was replaced as the town’s railway hub by Rotherham Central which is in use today.

Rotherham Central is a relatively new station but is just 300 yards from the site of another Central station dating back to 1868 which was constructed by the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway.

The original station was once called Rotherham & Masborough which must have been confusing for local people as the old Rotherham Masborough station was at that time known as Masborough for Rotherham.

The current Rotherham Central has only two platforms. It was renovated in 2012 and its new entrance was opened in October 2013.

Rotherham has been an important railway town for many years, and its proximity to the busy Sheffield and Doncaster railway hubs has kept it important. Today, ofcourse, it is also used by Sheffield Supertram TramTrains.

Old maps in the Chesterfield to Rotherham book show just how many rail routes there were across the whole area, with the coal mines requiring trains to carry their product far and wide. A map of Grimesthorpe Junction in the book from 1933 reveals around two dozen lines and sidings to partly fulfil demand from the nearby Grimesthorpe Gas Works.

Other memories caught on camera are the aftermath of a major rail crash at Dore and Totley station on October 9, 1907, flooding at Sheffield station in December 1991, and the damage caused at Chesterfield station during the first National Railway Strike of 1911.

Middleton Press was started by Vic Middleton back in 1980 and has now printed hundreds of titles, including Banbury to Birmingham, Ludlow to Hereford, Scunthorpe to Doncaster, and York to Scarborough.

Vic said: “The aim is to complete the ultimate ‘rail encyclopaedia’ through these series of albums that chart individual routes in Britain, using a wide variety of images and maps.

“Each album has the stations in journey order, over 20-30 miles, with the pictures in date order, at each stop.

“The first album published was Branch Lines to Midhurst in 1981. It proved so popular that I and co-author Keith Smith have continued for the last 40 years, with the help of a number of outside authors.”

  • More information on the book, and others in the series, can be found at http://www.middletonpress.co.uk. Details of local stockists can be obtained by telephoning 01730 813169.

Quick Quiz #4 – the answers

Here are the answers to our fourth Quick Quiz, set earlier this month on the Chase website.

Hopefully you got all the answers correct. If not, then you will have to see if you do better in our fifth quiz, coming very soon.

The solutions are:

  1. Who was the British Prime Minister at the start of the 20th Century?
    A) Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
    B) Arthur Balfour
    C) Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (3rd Marquess of Salisbury)
    ANSWER: C) Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. He served from 1895 to 1902.
  2. Who was the only English-born Pope?
    A) St Felix IV
    B) Pope Adrian IV
    C) John XV
    ANSWER: B) Pope Adrian IV. His real name was Nicholas Breakspear and he was Pope from 1154-59.
  3. On which island did the dodo live prior to becoming extinct?
    A) Mauritius
    B) Tasmania
    C) St Helena
    ANSWER: A) Mauritius
  4. In which country was comedian Spike Milligan born?
    A) Australia
    B) Canada
    C) India
    ANSWER: C) India
  5. What was the name of an autobiography by US president Jimmy Carter?
    A) Where’s the Rest of Me?
    B) At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends
    C) An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood
    ANSWER: C) An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood. Ronald Reagan wrote Where’s the Rest of Me? and At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends was written by Dwight D Eisenhower. Each wrote a number of autobiographies.
  6. What is the scientific name for a fear of beautiful women?
    A) Venustraphobia
    B) Tonitrophobia
    C) Phobophobia
    ANSWER: A) Venustraphobia. Tonitrophobia is a fear of thunder and Phobophobia is a fear of phobias.
  7. The Sun newspaper in the UK was begun in 1964 to replace which failing publication?
    A) The Illustrated London News
    B) Daily Herald
    C) Today
    ANSWER: B) Daily Herald
  8. Which bird lays the biggest egg?
    A) Mute Swan
    B) Emu
    C) Ostrich
    ANSWER: C) Ostrich
  9. Which Blue Peter presenter had previously been a Dr Who companion?
    A) Peter Purves
    B) John Noakes
    C) Valerie Singleton
    ANSWER: A) Peter Purves
  10. Galler, Tara Galilor and Pays de Galles are various European countries’ names for which other land?
    A) Greenland
    B) France
    C) Wales
    ANSWER: C) Wales

Quick Quiz #4

Welcome to another of our Chase quizzes.

There isn’t a prize but we hope you can spend a few minutes giving yourself a mental MOT in trying to work out the answers.

The solutions to Quick Quiz #4 will be published on this website on January 23, 2020 at 10am.

Have fun!

  1. Who was the British Prime Minister at the start of the 20th Century?
    A) Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
    B) Arthur Balfour
    C) Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (3rd Marquess of Salisbury)
  2. Who was the only English-born Pope?
    A) St Felix IV
    B) Pope Adrian IV
    C) John XV
  3. On which island did the dodo live prior to becoming extinct?
    A) Mauritius
    B) Tasmania
    C) St Helena
  4. In which country was comedian Spike Milligan born?
    A) Australia
    B) Canada
    C) India
  5. What was the name of an autobiography by US president Jimmy Carter?
    A) Where’s the Rest of Me?
    B) At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends
    C) An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood
  6. What is the scientific name for a fear of beautiful women?
    A) Venustraphobia
    B) Tonitrophobia
    C) Phobophobia
  7. The Sun newspaper in the UK was begun in 1964 to replace which failing publication?
    A) The Illustrated London News
    B) Daily Herald
    C) Today
  8. Which bird lays the biggest egg?
    A) Mute Swan
    B) Emu
    C) Ostrich
  9. Which Blue Peter presenter had previously been a Dr Who companion?
    A) Peter Purves
    B) John Noakes
    C) Valerie Singleton
  10. Galler, Tara Galilor and Pays de Galles are various European countries’ names for which other land?
    A) Greenland
    B) France
    C) Wales

Get on your bike – and see the sights!

A new book encourages us all out into the great countryside of the north of England – on our bikes. Chase reporter ANTONY CLAY takes a look at the publication.

GETTING out and about in the great outdoors of the North has very much been on the minds of many of us in recent months, and the growing desire for health and fitness means people have been considering exploring the region on two wheels.

A new book, published by Wild Things Publishing, offers up 36 superb bike ride ideas in northern England, covering the wonderful landscapes of Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland and County Durham.

Written by Jack Thurston, Lost Lanes North introduces bikers to the lost lanes and forgotten byways which only two wheels will allow someone to explore fully.

It is a book full of great ideas and stunning pictures which show what is on offer in our glorious part of the world. Fells, moors, dales, coastlines and even some settlements are covered – with all important added information on wild camping, pubs and gourmets, history, culture, organised events, wild swimming and even ideas on keeping the kids amused.

Jack Thurston

Jack, who presents The Bike Show podcast on Resonance FM in London which has seen a million downloads, has also written for The Guardian, Cycling Plus, Sunday Times and Cycle.

More than half a million copies of the Wild Things series of books have been sold since 2012 so it shows there is a clear interest from people in exploring the most beautiful parts of our country by bike.

Lost Lanes North offers up a detailed but concise route for each of the 36 journeys suggested, with a map, written journey itinerary, and a little background information. There are details about the terrain – some routes are more arduous than others! – and plenty of photographs to show you what to expect. For each route you also get a list of pubs and pit stops, which will come in very useful when you are out there.

The book also offers ideas on the practicalities that should be observed when venturing out, such as ensuring you have the right maps and equipment (including suitable clothing to cope with our British meteorological extremes), advice on wild camping and which routes are best for long weekends, wild swimming, families, pubs, gourmet eateries, history, arts and culture, challenging biking and stunning scenery.

It’s a beautiful book to just sit and read but will really inspire you to want to get out there. It could also be useful for walkers who could venture along the same or similar routes.

The well-experienced cyclist who is out and about every weekend and holiday on his or her machine will find this book invaluable, but so will families thinking about a break away together. There are routes for the experienced and inexperienced. Some have very challenging ascents and descents in rugged environments, others offer a more subtle challenge, which is what makes the book so enjoyable.

But it is an fascinating read as well, perhaps just to remind one of a place visited in the past or as a stimulus to a future journey out.

So, let’s take a look at what Jack suggests for our part of the world here in deepest Yorkshire.
The section on West and South Yorkshire has five quite different routes but which encompass the area’s industrial heritage.

The Hammer and Chisel chapter, for instance, explores the landscape of the South Yorkshire Coalfield. The 41-mile route goes from Woolley Edge near Wakefield towards the majestic Emley Moor transmitter (bigger than The Shard in London apparently which makes it the tallest free-standing structure in Britain) and on to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton. From here it’s on to Royd Moor, Penistone and then Cannon Hall near Barnsley, Cawthorn, Silkstone and finally Darton.

The Where There’s Muck route explores riverside paths, old rail lines and forest trails north of Sheffield. It encompasses Wentworth Woodhouse, Hoober Stand and the Needle’s Eye, Elsecar and Wortley Top Forge.
The West Yorkshire route covers such places as the Five Rise Locks at Bingley, Ilkley Moor, Hebden Bridge, Heptonstall (where you can find the grave of poet Sylvia Plath in the graveyard), Haworth, Todmorden and Saltaire.

The routes through the rest of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northumberland, County Durham and Cumbria are equally enthralling and full of surprises. All in all this is a book that makes one realise just how great our countryside is and what our rural places have to offer as travel destinations.

Other areas of our fair land are explored in the Wild Guides UK series of books from Wild Things Publishing, including central England, Wales, the South West, Scotland, the Lakes and Dales, and London and the South East.

There are Wild Abroad titles covering Scandinavia and Portugal, and wild swimming guides for Spain, France, Italy and Sydney.

Jack Thurston has written other Lost Lanes titles for the West, Wales and the South and there are other books by the same publisher on bikepacking, wild running, crossing France by bike, as well as guides on bothy walks, 50 secret islands, garden weekends, and wild ruins. That’s pretty much every type of wild holiday opportunity catered for really.

Jack said that he was keen to get people to explore places a little off the beaten track.

He said: “The routes in the book all combine quiet country lanes and traffic free tracks and byways with great places to visit, whether for a swim in a river, a poke around an atmospheric ruin or prehistoric monument, a great cafe for lunch or a pint in a cosy country pub. A day out on the bike isn’t all about cycling, it’s about exploring and experiencing the world around us in a relaxed and immersive way.

“Quite a few readers have shared their photos and experiences on social media using the #lostlanes hashtag, especially on Instagram. It’s great to see people enjoying riding my routes and to see how my favourite places and lanes change with the seasons and the weather.

“For me it’s about simplifying things and taking the stress out of going on holiday. We’re lucky in Britain to have so much wonderful countryside within easy reach of where we live. There’s no need to fly halfway around the world to have a truly memorable holiday. And rural businesses are providing ever more variety of places to stay, from traditional hotels, B&Bs and campsites to new glamping destinations like yurts, treehouses and shepherds huts.

“Travelling by bike is a great way to slow down and smell the roses, quite literally.”

Daniel Start, publisher of the book, said he was encouraged to go into print because of the author’s enthusiasm for the subject.

Daniel said: “Jack is a very talented travel writer and photographer, and already had a very successful cycling radio show, and a lot of routes ideas. We felt there was a need to rekindle the love of slower cycling, exploring ancient lanes and old ways, at a more leisurely pace, rather than sprinting around the main roads in Lycra.

“The old ways tell us a lot about the history of our countryside and landscape, but are lesser-known and it can also be tricky to create a route. Jack has spent years poring over maps, cycling thousands of miles, to find the most beautiful and enjoyable lesser-known lanes.

“Readers love Jack’s books, and the original guide to southern England has become the best-selling cycle travel guide in the UK.

“Many of the cycle rides can be accessed by train. We are encouraging a detox from urban life, hopefully a day travelling through a more old-fashioned countryside, where cars rarely feature, but where landscape and history are everywhere.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.wildthingspublishing.com

‘I’ve worked with every stratum of society from Hollywood stars to tower block kids’

Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance (ROAR) chief executive SHARON GILL talks to artist Rob Young

IF you have been over to visit the Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham recently you will have come across an artwork by Rob Young based on the famous Whistlejacket horse painting by George Stubbs in 1762 and in response to Ghost by Turner prizewinner Mark Wallinger.

The piece is currently hanging in the main entrance, to create a trilogy of work based on the portrait of a magnificent horse.

Rob says: “Whistlejacket is the world’s most famous painting of an animal. The horse that inspired it was brought to Wentworth Woodhouse. It wasn’t the biggest, it wasn’t the fastest, but it was beautiful. Along with its mate, they were the first two Arabian stallions in Britain and half of our racehorses come from these two.”
Rob responded to an artist call out to work with RMBC Heritage Services. What attracted Rob to work in Rotherham are the similarities between the history and the people of the town with his own home town of Shields.

He says: “I decided to create something modest, that any child could make themselves, with a bit of cardboard and a torch. These days, when people look for stories, they turn to Hollywood but some of the best stories are right here, in Rotherham. That’s what I wanted to share. If you look around Clifton Park Museum, there are some terrific stories. There’s a cat with two bodies that lived for five days!”

Through working on the commission Rob spent a long time in Rotherham and was really genuine in his appreciation of how warm and welcoming the people are, and how dedicated the museum staff are with passion for their work.

“The Rotherham project was one of the happiest experiences of my life,” admits Rob.

What I found disarming about Rob was that even though he has had quite remarkable success in practically everything he has turned his hand to, even if lady luck has helped along the way, he is a very grounded artist who recognises the opportunities he has been given and now wants to put his success to good use by working for those less fortunate.

Of the Rotherham project, he says: “It’s been a lovely project. I’ve worked with every stratum of society from actors to archivists, blacksmiths to curators, composers to x-ray specialists, local mums and local children — they’ve all played a part. It’s not my exhibition, it’s theirs; it belongs to the town. And it’s free. How wonderful is that?”

Rob was born in a deprived town where unemployment was high. Shipworking was the main industry after the closure of the coalmines. There was an air of little hope, no holidays, no culture. The nearest thing was a working men’s club with 500 men and lights on full blast. For Rob, all this led to low self esteem and lack of direction.

Not surprisingly, he was in a gang of 15 boys and even though he found a life in the arts, he assured me that he was not the wimp in the gang and held his own. His parents were good and supportive in the way they knew best. Rob was toughened up through karate classes. As mentioned, he has a tendency to success, which meant that in the martial art he excelled and was promoted to the men’s class. That meant he was beaten regularly, so every Monday night on his way to lessons he would drink a bottle of cider to soften the inevitable blows.

It is remarkable how some people can pinpoint the moment that their life changed. Rob’s lightbulb moment came when his then dancer girlfriend took him to see a dance performance. As he so eloquently states, he realised “I am in the wrong gang.” Okay, so he was not about to become a world class dancer, but the desire to be close to the ‘cool people’ took Rob to London to study theatre design — with a clear ambition to own a colour TV.

London is a culture shock to many the first time they go. The museums and galleries and sheer density of people were overwhelming to the point that Rob wasn’t sure he was even allowed to walk up Regent Street or go to a museum. His only previous experience was that he had been shushed and not made welcome. Rob remembers the taste explosion that came from access to international foods and gorging himself on everything that was available in contrast to the tomato sauce and crisp sandwiches of his youth.

After his three years of study, finding work was harder than expected and Rob found himself homeless, living on a building site, in survival mode. But it seems this was not to be his future as at the age of 21 years he won a competition to spend three months on an adventure holiday in South America from the purchase of a blank CD. This feels like Charlie and the Chocolate factory’s golden ticket.

It soon came to pass that Rob’s survival skills and ability to keep smiling on through would enable him to become a charity photographer, visiting extreme locations in harsh conditions, including leading 70 people up the Himalayas to swamps in Tanzania. You are asking, like I did, how did that come to pass? I ask if he had ever owned a camera. Rob laughs and says no, he had to borrow one and teach himself to begin with.

The next 13 years saw Rob comfortable in his photography career, often working out of London, until one day the world as he knew it came to an almighty end. An horrific traffic accident left Rob hospitalised and with his legs in plaster for a period of nine months.

I am going crazy in lockdown after that period of time and I am mobile so I cannot imagine the mind-numbing frustration of such a situation. But not Rob. He picked up a pen and started to write, even though he failed his English O-Level. He wrote anything, poetry about his life just to pass the time. This is another one of those pinpoint moments that changed his life.

Rob works hard and has a fearless approach to his endeavours. He used his compensation money to present himself as a poet on stage. You will not be too surprised to hear the reviews were great and creative opportunities started to come in.

It is almost impossible to explain why some people succeed and some do not. Rob works hard, he says he is shy and humble, suffering from imposter syndrome which makes him work all the harder and he learns from his mistakes.

He says: “Failure is part of the journey.”

One of his poems was made into a film, called Miranda. Rob modestly says he was mistaken for a TV show producer of the same name which is why he was invited to present his film pitch. His poem had been mistaken for an interesting interpretation. He came clean and said it was just a poem but Film 4 made it anyway. Rob was commissioned to write the screenplay and had to borrow money to buy a word processor — and he hasn’t looked back too much since.

When he was commissioned by Working Title Films he was a little scared until a kindly face said: “Don’t be scared, the entire British film industry is run by women in cardigans”, which Rob assures me is true.

I am not going to list Rob’s achievements here as you can find them easily for yourself. Rob had a commission with the Royal Shakespeare Company that received 25 million Twitter hits and won two internet oscars. He asked why he was chosen, as someone who doesn’t know the posh words for things and so uses little words instead, with a bad education and plain English?

It is precisely because he was bored at school that he would understand how to engage with that audience. Rob refers to himself as one of the most successful writers no one has heard of, often used as the lowest common denominator (“If Rob can understand it…”).

With a 20 year award-winning career writing for film, TV and stage, Rob did look back and wonder what else there was to achieve. Was he after more applause? Having managed to secure the ambition of a colour TV and a warm room in which to live and work, Rob decided to start giving back.

“I’ve helped thousands of young writers find their voice,” he says, adding: “As a Faculty Associate at NHS Research & Development North West, I help NHS leaders communicate complex conditions like HIV and FGM in a way that is warm, welcoming and accessible to all. I was the first patron of the first arts festival in England to be run by an NHS Trust (the Love Arts Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival in Leeds). I’ve worked with every stratum of society from Hollywood stars to tower block kids, terminally ill lung patients to young cancer survivors.”

So Rob urges you to go and visit Clifton Park Museum. It’s free, it’s interesting and full of stories, it’s warm and welcoming.

You can be inspired to express yourself, have fun with what’s available to you. Make funny films with your friends. Be true to yourself, you never know where it will lead.
Rob’s exhibition is open until February 2021.

https://youtu.be/nH3BKpGxzw4 – NHS work

Steam trains, diesels and long-lost stations

Chase reporter ANTONY CLAY takes a look at a fascinating book highlighting railway history

OLDER readers may remember old railway lines which criss-crossed our land in large numbers, with a multitude of little rural stations and thriving big ones.

Trains chugged their way back and forth carrying people, cattle, coal, steel – much more than is ever carried by rail these days.

But times changed, and Dr Beeching came along with his axe in the 1960s, which has led to the loss of much of this network.

Some of the loss could be justified on cost-saving grounds but socially the termination of many lines was disastrous to some communities, and it could be argued has led to the popular move away from rail to roads.

But it is interesting social history to look back on the railways of yesteryear which were an important part of the country’s social fabric. During the war years, the rail network was a vital means of transporting vital equipment, food, people and raw materials around quickly, and while freight has become less important to the railways today, passenger numbers are on the rise again.

Which brings me to a fabulous publication by Middleton Press, a publisher which specialises in keeping an invaluable record of the UK’s railway heritage in a collection of books bringing together images and information from the past.

The 96-page Scunthorpe to Doncaster book by Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith contains 120 photographs spanning decades showing activities throughout the steam and diesel years.

The book also looks at the Isle of Axholme Joint Railway plus the lines between Whitton and Elsham and is part of Middleton Press’s Eastern Main Lines series.

A picture taken from the book, showing a railway employee at Elsham station

The book is not weighed down with words and gives a brief but concise historical background, as well as offering copies of old timetables, statistics and maps. There are even old tickets.

The book is divided into sections, each covering specific areas such as Barnby Dun, Crowle, Epworth, Hatfield and Stainforth, Scunthorpe Steelworks Area, and Whitton.

Each picture has a detailed but brief explanation offering a window into what is sometimes a lost world. Some lines have gone, many of the buildings have been knocked down.

The pictures show people at work, engines of varying types busily keeping industry going, station staff and passengers in times when they were still visibly astonished to have someone taking their photograph.

An old steam locomotive at work in an evocative image taken from the book

There are also sailing boats on the canal at Crowle, impressive old bridges, signal boxes, trains still servicing big factories.

It is fascinating to see the variety of trains, large and small, perhaps bringing home how technologically the railways have changed over the years.

It is a very interesting book to browse through and hats off to Middleton Press for publishing such collections. Pictures say a thousand words, so the saying has it, and this collection brings history to life. Older people will remember the places shown, young readers can see how the world has changed.

This is history which we can all relate to.

* Scunthorpe to Doncaster (Eastern Main Lines series) by Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith, published by Middleton Press £18.95. For information on local stockists, telephone 01730 813169. Books are available post-free from Middleton Press, Easebourne Lane, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9AZ. Contact http://www.middletonpress.co.uk.

Pictures from our railway heritage

Chase reporter ANTONY CLAY gets nostalgic over a new book on Mansfield to Doncaster railway history

WHEN I was a child I was a trainspotter. There, I’ve admitted it and can now move on with the rest of my life.

But whilst the hobby seems to have fallen somewhat out of favour these days with the younger generation, and is only kept going by older men standing on station platforms with cameras and heavy bags, interest by the public in railway history is as strong as ever.

There is an appetite amongst folk to find out about the long-gone stations, signal boxes and lines which once served their area.

Publisher Middleton Press has certainly tapped into this nostalgia for both steam trains and diesel by bringing together a wealth of pictures in its Country Railway Routes series, as well as other collections on topics ranging from Branch Lines and Great Railway Eras to London Suburban Railways and Narrow Gauge lines.

A recent addition to the Country Railway Routes tomes is Mansfield to Doncaster via Shirebrook and Shireoaks by Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith which was published on October 20.

Packed full of photographs, maps, plans and timetables, the book is a fascinating dip into the area’s railways of the past.

History and rail buffs can enjoy images of stations, trains and lines at Anston, Dinnington and Laughton, Doncaster, Maltby, Tickhill and Wadworth, and locations further afield such as Pleasley, Langwith, Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Each picture has a detailed caption so the reader can see when and where it was taken and the book is helpfully divided into areas so you can find out about the place where you live or are interested in.

The fascinating book starts off with a potted history of how railway lines developed over the area, beginning with the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway in 1819, which eventually linked up with the Midland Railway.

The first railway to reach Doncaster was a Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways route from Knottingley in 1848.
Coal and other business transport objectives were the spark for most lines being built, but the growth of passenger services became more significant over time.

The book is an interesting read, detailed but not off-puttingly technical.

Seeing old stations standing proud in the dim and distant past in places like Anston and Dinnington sparks a sense of nostalgia and the impression that something was lost through station closures during the Beeching era and similar axe-falling times.

Seeing pictures of long trains hauling coal at Harworth Colliery and at Langwith Junction Station Shed takes the reader back to a time when freight was a major reason for the railways existing. Today, carrying people takes up the bulk of rail time and effort, and the roads are full of lorries.

Images of steam trains alongside diesel engines reflect the transition from one era to another. A cultural change for a modernising country. I recall seeing a steam train rush through Arksey railway crossing north of Doncaster when I was very young but that must have been the last time I saw one on duty, as it were, rather than being sent out as some sort of historic totem.

I also attended the launch of the Blue Peter steam train at Doncaster Works, conducted by the programme’s legendary presenters John Noakes, Peter Purves and Valerie Singleton and watched by literally thousands and thousands of people on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve just checked and it was 1971. Ah, memories…

Anyway, Middleton Press have done us all a favour by catching these little nuggets from the past. These images show our industrial and historical heritage because the trains and buildings caught in these black and white pictures actually affected the lives of our parents and grandparents.

It’s great that this information is available in book form and I hope that Middleton Press keep up the good work.

* Mansfield to Doncaster (Country Railway Routes series), published by Middleton Press £18.95. For information on local stockists, telephone 01730 813169. Books are available post-free from Middleton Press, Easebourne Lane, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9AZ. Contact http://www.middletonpress.co.uk.

Quick Quiz #3 – the answers

So how did you do with our quiz over the Christmas period?

Hopefully you got a good score – though hopefully you found it at least a little challenging.

There will be another Quick Quiz soon.

Here are the answers:

  1. Who is the principal character in Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment?
    A) Raskolnikov
    B) Turgenev
    C) Mishustin
    ANSWER: 1. A) Raskolnikov. Turgenev was the writer of such classic Russian novels as Fathers and Sons. Mikhail Mishustin is the current Prime Minister of Russia.
  2. What is the state capital of California?
    A) Los Angeles
    B) San Francisco
    C) Sacramento
    ANSWER: 2. C) Sacramento
  3. According to the Genesis song and album, where did the Lamb lie down?
    A) Madison Square Gardens
    B) Time Square
    C) Broadway
    ANSWER: 3. C) Broadway. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was a concept double album released in 1974 and the last to feature singer Peter Gabriel.
  4. Who painted The Scream?
    A) Edvard Munch
    B) Salvador Dali
    C) Rembrandt
    ANSWER: 4. A) Edvard Munch
  5. In which organ of the body would you find the aqueous humour?
    A) Ear
    B) Eye
    C) Kidney 
    ANSWER: 5. B) Eye
  6. Which David Lynch film starred Dennis Hopper?
    A) Dune
    B) The Straight Story
    C) Blue Velvet
    ANSWER: 6. C) Blue Velvet. Dennis Hopper starred alongside Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini. Dune starred Kyle MacLachlan and The Straight Story, about an old man who travels across America on a lawn mower, starred Richard Farnsworth.
  7. Which of these was not a member of the Monty Python team?
    A) Terry Gilliam
    B) Terry-Thomas
    C) Terry Jones
    ANSWER: 7. B) Terry-Thomas. Real name Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens, he was a popular comedy actor who appeared in scores of films from the 1930s to the 1980s, often as a devious character.
  8. Which of these DJs once presented the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show?
    A) Mark Radcliffe
    B) John Peel
    C) Annie Nightingale
    ANSWER: 8. A) Mark Radcliffe. He presented the show in 1997 following the departure of Chris Evans alongside Marc Riley, under the names Mark and Lard.
  9. Which of these is a presenter of BBC2’s Newsnight programme?
    A) Emily Maitlis
    B) Fiona Bruce
    C) Mishal Husain
    ANSWER: 9. A) Emily Maitlis. Fiona Bruce presents Question Time and Antiques Roadshow. Mishal Husain is a presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme.
  10. Which James Bond actor starred in the epic BBC 1990s drama series Our Friends in the North?
    A) Timothy Dalton
    B) Daniel Craig
    C) Pierce Brosnan
    ANSWER: 10. B) Daniel Craig. He played George ‘Geordie’ Peacock alongside Christopher Eccleston, Mark Strong and Gina McKee.

Cut speeding outside schools, but motorway views are different


A SURVEY has found that most drivers wants a crackdown on speeding outside schools.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart’s annual Safety Culture Study found that 82 per cent of the British driving public are in favour of using speed cameras to automatically fine drivers travelling more than ten miles per hour over the limit near schools.

However, the survey of 2,000 motorists went on to highlight that attitudes towards speeding on motorways were significantly different, with only 63 per cent of drivers supporting the use of cameras to detect those driving ten miles per hour above the limit on motorways.

It also identified that just under half of all motorists (46 per cent) think it is acceptable to drive at 80 miles per hour on the motorway, while as many as one in four believe it is acceptable to do so at speeds greater than 80 miles per hour.

While acceptance of motorway speeding remained broadly consistent among drivers aged 17-69, there was a noticeable increase among those who travel longer distances. A staggering 56 per cent of those who cover more than 10,000 miles on the road each year believed it acceptable to reach speeds of 80 miles per hour or more on the motorway.

Neil Greig, policy and research director at IAM RoadSmart, said: “It is reassuring to see that the majority of motorists we surveyed are in favour of using speed cameras to improve road safety outside schools. Speeding in towns may be universally disliked, but it is clear that we still have a long way to go before the same message gets through on motorways.

“Speeding causes more than 4,000 casualties each year on UK roads — that’s an average of 11 people a day killed or seriously injured. So it is extremely disappointing to see such apparent acceptance of speeding on motorways, and we need to do more to create a fundamental shift in attitude and behaviour here.”