The Midland Railway Branch from Little Eaton to Ripley

Derby once boasted a railway connection to Ripley via the branch through Little Eaton, Coxbench, Kilbourne, Denby, Street Lane and Marehay. The town of Ripley boasted much industry and an extensive rail and tramway system. Look at the town today and it is difficult to see where the many tracks ran. All that remains is the heritage rail site at Butterley. Ripley's Midland Railway station stood on the opposite side of town. The branch from Derby diverged from the main line at Little Eaton and very little evidence of the route remain today. However, there was still a through route in 1965 when I took the following photographs. (NOTE:- This document and the photographs contained herein are copyright Ron McKeown and may not be reproduced without permission).

A somewhat grainy picture of a Diesel Multiple Unit, (DMU), near Breadsall Crossing which is on the main line just north of Derby and close to where the junction for the Ripley Branch was. The DMU's replaced the steam hauled trains on local services and this one is possibly on the Matlock run.

Little Eaton Station from the level crossing gates. The Station buildings are on the left.

The colour photograph was taken at a later date than the B&W ones. This picture gives a better view of the old station buildings and also shows the remains of the platform

This grand building stood on Denby Station and still exists today. Note the classic Midland Railway gas lamp - now long gone.

 Denby North signal box looking north. Adjacent to the steps is an oil lamp, usually paraffin, to light the way for the signalman. In the background is the winding house for Denby Colliery. The winding-wheels at pit heads were a common feature of this heavily industrialised area but all have now vanished, except perhaps for the static display on the entrance to Denby Pottery.

This is from the same location as the picture above but I had moved closer to the signal box allowing for a clear view of the sidings. It is still a busy scene with quite a number of 16 ton mineral wagons waiting in the various sidings. In the distance but out of sight is Denby Street Lane.

 For this picture I have turned around to look south towards Little Eaton and a slag heap is visible, left top. This was an important mining area and the presence of the slag heap is a reminder of the industry of the area and also of the major customer of the railways from the earliest days.  The only industry left would appear to be the Denby pottery works which is also the local tourist attraction. 

I thought the Denby Street Lane Station building was a nostalgic reminder of the type of architecture common to the line and I would have liked to have see it preserved, perhaps as this picture shows with sack truck, wheelbarrow and shovel at the ready. Another example of the Midland Railway gas lamps can be seen.

The station stood next to the road and had a small goods yard with a goods shed. It is all housing today. The presence of slag heaps are again reminding us of the nature of the area.

Still at Denby Street Lane. This picture is of the hand lever for the station signal.

Turning around from the station and looking north towards Marehay we are greeted with this view and is the final picture in my collection. This has long since disappeared and little evidence of it remains. I wish I had continued up to Ripley photographing the remaining relics of this nostalgic line but .......... well, never mind.

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Ron McKeown - December 2015