The railway arrived in Matlock in 1849, opening on 4th June and
celebrated by lunch at the Old Bath Hotel in Matlock Bath.
Matlock Station was one of three stations to be built within the
parish, the others being at Matlock
Bath and Cromford. The Manchester,
Buxton, Matlock & Midlands Railway Company was formed in 1846,
with the local M.P., Mr. George Henry Cavendish, as its chairman.
George Stephenson was appointed resident-engineer for the
line, with Messrs. Wheatcroft and Co. being awarded the contract
for the High Tor tunnel.
Stephenson's report of progress so far (1846) was read to the
shareholders at their first meeting. He stated that the line
was staked out between Ambergate and Matlock and
he hoped to purchase the land "fairly shortly".
A major difficulty was tunnelling under High Tor and local miners
were employed to blast through the rock.
High Tor tunnel is 600 yards long and the Willersley tunnel, between
Matlock Bath and Cromford, is 800 yards in length. Both are a tribute
to the skill of the team of men involved. There
were relatively few accidents but on the morning of Monday 18 October
1847 a man named Statham, an experienced miner, lit a fuse of "a
heavy blast" but failed to "retire to a sufficient distance".
He received a heavy blow on back of head from rock fragment and
by the following morning his life was in danger but
his name is not recorded in the parish register so he clearly
In September 1848 the men working from each end met up: "a
communication was effected a few days since between the north
and south ends of the northern High Tor Tunnel. The tunnel is on
a somewhat difficult curve, but on the workmen meeting, it was
found to have been set out with such accuracy, that the centres
of the two portions, where the miners met, on being proved by the
surveyor, Mr. John Wheatcroft, were found not to vary half an inch
|The Matlock end of the High Tor Tunnel,
In November 1849 The Illustrated News commented that "On
emerging from the High Tor
Tunnel, another picturesque amphitheatre strikes your view
- the river and new bridge,
neighbouring woods and rocks, the residence of John Greaves,
Esq., Boat-house Inn &c.".
Before the line could be opened it had to be properly tested with
full, heavy, trucks to replicate the normal loads the track and bridges
would have to withstand. On 14 May 1849 "the first locomotive
engine passed over that portion of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock & Ambergate
railway, now nearly complete, for traffic, lying between Ambergate
and Matlock bridge station. The train on this occasion consisted
of a number of Midland railway trucks, laden with stone, of a sufficient
length to reach over the Boathouse bridge, at Matlock. The gross
weight of the train, when engine and tender were attached, being
about 150 tons, was a pretty good test for green masonry, and newly
|The Boat House Bridge, about 1955.
In 1848 a coffer dam had to be erected in the Derwent in preparation
for the bridge
to be built. Whilst constructing the dam the miners working
on the project discovered
a number of horns in blue clay under four feet of gravel in
the river bed.
Earlier the same year the commencement of the extension of the
line to Rowsley had also been celebrated by a feast - a supper
at the Grouse Inn at Darley Dale. Those
involved with railway building clearly liked their food.
was as far as the line reached for some years but it eventually
went on to Manchester. "At first there was a service of six
trains each way on week-days and two each way on Sundays".
With Matlock easier to access the Water
Cure industry was able to flourish, outstripping the rival
resort of Matlock Bath just down the road.
Proposed links to Ashbourne, which were discussed on several occasions
in the railway building era, were never implemented. In the mid
twentieth century Dr. Beeching reviewed the railway system in Britain
and many lines were deemed to be unviable. Matlock's line was considered
to be a main railway route but stations to the north of Rowsley
closed in 1967 with the line closing to the north of Matlock on
14 July 1968.
Those with railway ancestors might like to see:
Matlock & Matlock
Bath Lists: The Twentieth Century: Matlock Station Staff,
1911 - 1966, A - J
Matlock & Matlock
Bath Lists: The Twentieth Century: Matlock Station Staff, 1911
- 1966, K - Y
 Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons,
 "The Derby Mercury",
16 September, 1846. Report of first meeting of shareholders.
 "Daily News", 31 December,
 "The Standard", 21
Giles' Burials are on this site.
 "The Sheffield & Rotherham
Independent", 16 September, 1848.
London News", 24 Nov
 "The Morning Post",
17 May, 1849.
 "Derbyshire Courier", 30
September 1848. Portions of the horns were a short time later in
the possession of Mr Campbell of Matlock, the engineer, and Mr.
Benjamin Bryan, the proprietor of the Heights of Abraham at Matlock
 "The Sheffield & Rotherham
Independent", 20 January, 1849.
 Dates from Kingscott, Geoffrey (2007) "Lost
Railways of Derbyshire", Countryside Books, ISBN 978
1 84674 042 8.