Kiveton & Wales Heritage

Kiveton & Wales Heritage

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The arrival of the railways in the 1840s signalled a huge step for coal mining in this area and was to bring benefits, not just to the industry, but the district in general.

The North Midland was the first railway to arrive in this locality, opening its route from Leeds to Derby via Woodhouse Mill and Beighton on May 11th 1840. Nine years later, on February 12th 1849 the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway began running its trains via Woodhouse to link up with the North Midland at Beighton Junction. Later that same year, on July 17th, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire began running trains on its new 45 ½ miles cross-country route from Woodhouse Junction to Bole, just west of Gainsborough, where it connected with the Great Grimsby and Sheffield Railway. This provided a continuous line of railway from Manchester to the North Sea coast at Grimsby and Hull.

Traffic on the route would have been up and running a few months earlier had not a terrible accident taken place in the Rother Valley near Woodhouse Junction. Here, on the 30th of September 1848, work on the huge thirty-six-arch viaduct spanning the valley was nearing completion when disaster struck. Just before ten o’clock, the 19th century arch under which the four men were working suddenly collapsed. It was followed almost immediately by the fourteen adjoining it and soon afterwards six more gave way in rapid succession. Two of the men died almost instantaneously and another succumbed to his injuries a few hours later.

The catastrophe was attributed to the premature removal of the centres and to insufficient foundations, the situation being further accentuated by heavy rainfall which had flooded parts of the valley. The collapsed structure effectively damned the already swollen River Rother, causing the water level to rise to fifteen feet above the river bed. Despite this setback work proceeded rapidly and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire half-yearly meeting on the 13th March 1849 was informed that the viaduct would be completed in early May at a cost of £17,000.

Leaving the Rother Viaduct the route passed through open countryside, the collieries at Waleswood (1858), Beighton (1902) and Brookhouse (1929) being still some years in the future. The contract for this section of the line which commenced at Woodhouse Junction and ended at Retford was awarded to Miller and Blackie at the tendered price of £125, 564. The section was also notable for being the first on the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire to be equipped throughout with semaphore signalling. Designed by W. W. Cutts of Sheffield the signals were a quality product and made a very favourable impression on Captain Wynne who inspected the new railway.

Two miles beyond the Rother Viaduct was the second largest civil engineering project on the line, the huge cutting of Wales. Here, 400,000 cubic yards of material were excavated to allow the railway access to Kiveton. From Woodhouse East junction to where Kiveton Bridge Station would eventually be sited, the gradient was and still is severe at 1 in 115, the steepest on the whole route between Sheffield and the East Coast. Beyond the summit at Kiveton Bridge, the line falls at 1 in 179 to Kiveton Park Station and continues on a falling gradient all the way to Worksop and beyond.

This information is extracted from Alan Rowles publication on this site.

We were contacted in January 2018 by Tony Saville who remarks that the fish train mentioned by Alan did not run until the end of the railway:

The Grimsby -Whitland Fish Train (described as New Clee - Banbury, was diverted away from that route as early as 1962 when it’s route was via Lincoln, the LD&EC and the Mansfield Railway, picking up the GC Main Line at Kirkby South Junction.  At that time it was Britannia hauled and there is much evidence to confirm this in Great Central Twilight and in Mansfield Railways.  Furthermore, I personally observed it almost daily as it passed through Mansfield.

For further information, the book referred to above is: Great Central Twilight, Colin Walker, Pendyke Publications 1986 (rpt 1987), ISBN 0904318125.

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