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Matlock: The Miniature Railway on the Hall Leys
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Tennis, Boating Lake & Paddling Pool,
1930s to 1950s

Miniature Railway in the Derwent Gardens. Matlock Bath, early 1950s

Miniature trains have been an attraction in the park since May 1948, when the first 9½ gauge locomotive was first used to pull the sit-astride coaches to carry passengers on a track built by Bernard and Cyril Swain of Somercotes[1]. Mr. S. Laurence of Shirland also helped with the installation. The miniature railway was formally opened by Councillor J. S. Wain, Chairman of the UDS, on Saturday 15th May and council members were all participants in the first "ride".

The following year a second track was introduced into the Derwent Gardens in Matlock Bath[3]. A photograph in Julie Bunting's book on Matlock and Matlock Bath[4] shows the train on the Hall Leys, with the same driver in the image above, dating from 1961. The engine is very similar to the one at Matlock Bath, but without a nameplate, and Julie records that it was built by Stan Battison of Ilkeston[5]. The above photograph, though, has Kerr's Miniature Railway Matlock written on the back. Perhaps a nameplate was added later as, in one of Ron Duggins's books, there is an undated photograph of Cyril Swain's "Flying Scotsman" on the Hall Leys track; it would be brought out on Sundays and Bank Holidays with a diesel operating at other times[6].

The engine in use today, "Little David", is an 0-6-0 diesel based on an industrial original. The advantage of this over a steam engine is that it is both cheaper and easier to maintain and will start instantly without having to wait several hours for steam pressure to be raised[7]. It replaced the original steam engine in 1974 but still used the same carriages for the passengers. They have been repainted[8].

Below are a series of photographs of a locomotive on display in the West Shed at the Midland Railway Centre, Swanwick Junction. It is one of the locomotives that operated in Matlock and Matlock Bath during the 1950s and was built in 1948; it is almost certainly the locomotive show in the black and white photo at the top of the page. Ten feet in length, it was numbered 2701 and originally painted apple green, with the logo L.N.E.R. on the sides of its tender. It has since been re-numbered (now 6201) and repainted in the livery of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway[1].

According to information at the Midland Railway Centre this locomotive moved to the track built by Billy Roberts in the Derwent Gardens, where it remained until 1966 having been fitted with new boiler tubes in 1961. It was then sold back to Cyril Swain who returned it to the Hall Leys to run alongside "Lady Joyce" (see the photo of "Lady Joyce" in the Derwent Gardens)[1].

When the 0-6-0 was introduced, No.2701 was sold to Mr. Bell of Riber Zoo, who repainted and re-numbered it. Following Riber's closure it was bought by the chairman of the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and after a few years it was moved to Swanwick[1].



A third locomotive built by Mr. Battison was sold to Bognor Regis pier though it was returned to Mr. Swain in the early 1960s and then sold on to the U.S.A. Its whereabouts is unknown today[1].

Photographs of the locomotives and carriages on the Hall Leys in the collection of, provided by and © Susan Tomlinson.
Photographs of the locomotive no.2701 (now 6201) at the Midland Railway Centre provided by and © Bryan 'Smudger' Smith.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts and information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] From information obtained at the Midland Railway Centre, Swanwick Junction, by Bryan 'Smudger' Smith.

[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 17 May 1948. Holidaymakers Flock in Thousands to the Countryside. It was thought that it first opened on 1st May, but it was not opened officially until 15th of the month.

[3] "The Matlocks, The Official Guide Book" (about 1950). There was also a joint advertisement for the Hall Leys Park and the Derwent Pleasure Grounds which said there was a miniature railway at both.

[4] Bunting, Julie (2002) "Matlock and Matlock Bath", Tempus Publishing Ltd., ISBN 0-7524-2455-6.

[5] Although not a great deal seems to be known about him, Stanley Arthur Battison was born in Heanor in 1906, the son of Arthur and Rachel Battison. Arthur was a coal miner. Stanley married in 1923 and died in Ilkeston in 1960, aged 54.

[6] Duggins, Ron (2008) "Echoes of the Dales", the 1970s, pub. Landmark, Ashbourne, Derbyshire. ISBN-13: 978-1-84306-365-0

[7] Information from by Andy Andrews.

[8] Information from Susan Tomlinson.