Drive a Diesel Train Experience, Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

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Text © Copyright Dave Hitchborne, October 2010
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


Contents
SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Barbara Josephine Hitchborne

Update - Public Services Commence



The entire Duffield to Wirksworth branch line, of the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, was opened to the public on Friday 8th April 2011.
Summer Timetable 2014
The timetable will be in operation for the majority of operating days.
There are two trains - one which runs on the Wirksworth and Duffield line, the other runs on the Wirksworth and Ravenstor line.
Dates of Timetable Operation 2014
Saturdays and Sundays from Saturday 22nd March 2014 until Sunday 26th October 2014.
Tuesdays from Tuesday 1st April 2014 until Tuesday 28th October 2014.
Wednesdays in the summer holidays from Wednesday 30th July 2014 until Wednesday 3rd September 2014.
Thursdays from Thursday 3rd July until Thursday 25th September 2014.
Also Thursday 17th April, Thursday 24th April, Thursday 29th May and Thursday 30th October 2014 during school holidays.

Wirksworth departure | 10:15 | 12:15 | 14:15 | 16:15 |
Idridgehay departure | 10:31 | 12:31 | 14:31 | 16:31 |
Duffield arrival | 10:46 | 12:46 | 14:46 | 16:46 |

Duffield departure | 11:15 | 13:15 | 15:15 | 17:15 |
Idridgehay departure | 11:31 | 13:31 | 15:31 | 17:31 |
Wirksworth arrival | 11:48 | 13:48 | 15:48 | 17:48 |

Wirksworth departure | 11:53 | 13:53 | 15:53 |
Ravenstor arrival | 11:57 | 13:57 | 15:57 |

Ravenstor departure | 12:02 | 14:02 | 16:02 |
Wirksworth arrival | 12:05 | 14:05 | 16:05 |

The Experience - The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway provides driver experience that can be had any day of the week throughout the year. You spend the day receiving tuition from one of the experienced drivers, learning about the preparation and operation of a diesel train.

Following lunch in the buffet car, you have the opportunity to take the controls along a section of the line. After the drive, you then learn how to stable the train. Or, you can share the driver experience as part of a small team, which gives each person in the group an opportunity to take the controls.

About the Railway - The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is a community-owned and locally-managed venture to reopen and operate the railway between Wirksworth and Duffield in Derbyshire.

They operate tourist passenger services between Wirksworth and Idridgehay (3˝ miles) and Ravenstor (˝ mile up a 1 in 27 incline) using Diesel Multiple Units and - new for 2010 - Steam, between Wirksworth and Ravenstor. The section of line between Idridgehay and the Midland Main Line at Duffield (a further 5 miles) will be passed for operation in October 2010, providing a service to connect with national rail services.

They also market the railway for rail vehicle testing services under the brand MyTestTrack.com and offer facilities for filming under the brand RailFilmLocations.biz.

The Location - The Ecclesbourne Valley is Derbyshire’s Gentle Valley, stretching from the northern outskirts of Derby to Wirksworth, Gateway to the Peak. Taking the train to the line’s far northern terminus at Ravenstor brings you just a few minutes’ walk from the National Stone Centre and the Steeple Grange Light Railway. From there, a little bit of a walk uphill will bring you to the High Peak Trail.

The delightful town of Wirksworth offers a variety of cosy pubs, a bistro, cafes and plenty of traditional shops.

History - This proposed Midland Railway line from Derby to Manchester, was intended as a diversionary route away from the London and North Western Railway's Matlock-Rowsley line, because of the two companies uneasy relationship. By the time the line reached Wirksworth, the LNWR relinquished its interest in the Matlock line, which left the MR with a branchline it would rather not have built.

The residents of Wirksworth saw the line open to passenger traffic on 1st October 1867 and this service, which eventually lost out to the buses, was to last for eighty years until 16th June 1947. The line, however, continued in use for the movement of locally quarried limestone and this was to last for another forty-two years, until 4th December 1989.

WyvernRail Limited was established in 1992 as a community-owned and locally-managed venture to restore and operate the line. In 1997, the Derby and Wirksworth Railway Association was formed in response to growing interest in WyvernRail’s activities. The Association grew slowly over the next three years, but after renaming itself the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Association in 2000, membership took off when access to the line was granted, so finally work commenced.

The Stations

Ravenstor - Situated about half a mile north of Wirksworth Station, up a steep 1 in 27 incline, Ravenstor is ideal for walkers and visitors to the National Stone Centre. The station is just a couple of hundred yards from both the Stone Centre and the base of the High Peak Trail.

Opened in September 2005, Ravenstor station is unique in the sense that it was a brand new station. The incline wasn't used as a passenger line, but instead was the primary method of transporting stone away from the three neighbouring quarries.

Wirksworth - The heart of where it all began. Wirksworth is a large station at the northerly end of the line and is the main base. North of Wirksworth, the line climbs a steep incline to Ravenstor (for the National Stone Centre). South of Wirksworth, the line follows the valley and river Ecclesbourne, from which the railway gets its name.

There are several main attractions at Wirksworth Station for all to enjoy. The main station is open every day from 10am until 4pm, with trains running at weekends and some weekdays from March to October.

Idridgehay - Situated in the heart of the small village hamlet of Idridgehay, the station is a perfect example of an old Midland Railway style intermediate stop. The station buildings and crossing keepers house are still beautifully maintained, but are owned as private residences.

Shottle - Closed in 1947, along with the other stations on the branch, Shottle (or more accurately Cowers Lane) is a current future target. The plan is to open the line between Wirksworth and Duffield and once that is running successfully, come back and develop the Shottle site.

Once the line is open to Duffield, the train will pass Shottle station, which also has a small railway yard to the north. Passengers will be able to see the station and the yard from onboard the train.

At the moment, there are no additional attractions at Shottle station because it is not open to the public, but many are planned for the future.

Visitors can see the station site by looking over the bridge next to the Cower's Lane cross-roads, however caution should be taken as safe parking is limited and the station buildings are owned by Peak Oil Ltd.

Hazelwood - Hazelwood station remains a long-term objective for a halt.

Duffield - Duffield station was once a large station complex that served the southern terminus of the Wirksworth branch as well as trains that passed along the Midland main line to Sheffield and the North. Unfortunately, the station buildings have long since disappeared and the connection of the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway to the mainline has been severed. Duffield has now become a station typical of today's wayside halts.

Recently, the trackwork around the station has been upgraded to include a run around loop and prepare it for passenger operation. Work to rebuild the platform and provide passenger facilities has also started and should be completed in time for the planned opening.

Other locations have been considered as new station sites.

Live webcams - At present there are three webcams: Wirksworth Station Overview, Wirksworth Loading Point and Wirksworth Middle Yard, all of which can be accessed from here - LinkExternal link

Updated stocklist - The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway's comprehensive stocklist - see hereExternal link

Route map - Continues on the next page.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright


The uppermost station is Ravenstor

The lower is Wirksworth

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright


The following photographs and descriptions roughly describe the 'Drive A Diesel Train Experience'.

The Booking Office

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
My son booked me a 'Drive A Diesel Train Experience', on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, for my birthday. A 10:00am briefing, with the other three rookies, took place here in the Booking Office. It just so happened that this would be the first day that members of the public would travel the full length of the Wirksworth to Duffield line, for many years.
If you want to read the full account, see here - LinkExternal link
by Dave Hitchborne


First view of the railway

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A couple of former coaches of the Gatwick Express. One is used as a dining car where the other three rookies and I had a meal during the 'Driver A Diesel Train Experience'.
The Intercity liveried mainline locomotive is Class 31414, which could often be seen on the Sheffield-Manchester-Liverpool.
The shunter at left is Rolls-Royce diesel engined, 'L.J. Breeze'. We were introduced to this locomotive as the first one in the 'Experience'.
by Dave Hitchborne


Wirksworth Railway Station

SK2854 : Railway Station, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth - But for a few dedicated volunteers this would still be an overgrown forest of weeds, shrubs and trees.
by Dave Hitchborne


Station yard

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Three rookies with railway volunteers, led by Richard Buckby. Before we were to get to grips with any 'driving experience', we had a trip around the yard to soak up the atmosphere of the railway. Richard informed us that the ex-Gatwick Express coaches were each purchased for £1, however, the cost of moving them was in the thousands. He's pointing out that the shunter, L.J. Breeze, is one of the diesel locomotives in which we will have 'driver experience'.
One of the rookies came from Sheffield, my home town. The two others came from Wales and Scotland, respectively.
The railway volunteer, in the cap, is Tom Tait - Passenger Guard. He will be doing 'Second Man' duties, for the day. Bringing up the rear is Richard Preedy. He should have been on Infrastructure Maintenance Team duties, but he'll be working alongside Tom, operating the railway track point levers and opening and closing the crossing gates. He'll also be coupling and uncoupling wagons and other vehicles, to the locomotives.
by Dave Hitchborne


Rolling stock and Motive power

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
There is a varied collection of rolling stock and motive power, some of which are undergoing restoration. The items range from industrial to mainline and quite a few are operational. On view, but not easy to see, are three shunters and one mainline locomotive.
These lines converge to double-track, just short of the footbridge and terminate a short distance beyond.
There is a track over to the far right, unseen, which goes on to Ravenstor, but we didn't venture there. We were, however, privileged to be the first to ride all the way to Duffield.
by Dave Hitchborne


Inspection Saloon M999504 (DB999504)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Those of us on the 'Drive a Diesel Train Experience', were invited to look around the rolling stock, but in this case I was happy to take a few photos before the 'hands-on' experience.
I believe this was Inspection Saloon M999504 (DB999504), built by British Rail, Wolverton in 1957.
Whilst on loan to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, it will be used for entertaining, private hire and other special purposes.
by Dave Hitchborne


Ruston & Hornsby Diesel Electric 0-4-0 'Faraday'

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A Ruston & Hornsby Diesel Electric 0-4-0 'Faraday'. The locomotive was built for ICI Ltd., in 1956. Richard Buckby, Driver/Instructor, says, "It was our original 'proper' loco and did sterling service on our works trains for some years. The problem with it is that it uses air to start it and if it was not used for several days its air reservoir would leak away and then the only way to start it would be to rent a cylinder of compressed air and lug it along to the loco and top it up. Those cylinders are heavy and awkward! When we got the other shunters with electric starters, we retired Faraday and gave her a new coat of paint. I think she could be made operational quite quickly if we are desperate for motive power."
by Dave Hitchborne


Ruston & Hornsby 'Faraday' and unnamed 319284

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A pair of Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 Diesel Locomotives - 402803 'Faraday' and unnamed 319284. 'Faraday', however, is a diesel electric, built 1956 and the other is diesel mechanical, built 1952. 319284 just requires brake rodding.
by Dave Hitchborne


Hudswell & Clarke 0-6-0T Tank Locomotive 'Cathryn'

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Hudswell and Clarke 0-6-0T Tank Locomotive 'Cathryn' was built in 1944 for colliery work. Not currently in use.
by Dave Hitchborne


English Electric Type 1 Class 20

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
English Electric Class 20 D8001 also wore the British Rail number of 20001. The locomotive was among a total of 228 built for mainline freight. D8001 was built in 1957, but it would be eleven years before production of this class ended. Some saw limited passenger work, notably on the Leicester to Skegness, which I also managed to photograph.
On this day I was among a group of four rookies that would get to drive this locomotive, but first it had to be extricated out of here and so that it could drive cab first, with the brake van forward of the cab, all the way to Duffield.
by Dave Hitchborne


British Rail Brake Van

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A British Rail Brake Van of LMS design and livery. The van was to be employed as passenger carrying, so the stove had been lit and Tom Tait was about to check and see if it required anymore coal. Little did I know that I would be driving a Class 20, propelling this brake van in front of the loco, with my granddaughter standing at the prow, like a little Kate Winslett - of the film 'Titanic'.
by Dave Hitchborne


English Electric Type 1 Class 20 (2)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
An English Electric Type 1 Class 20 D8001. These locomotives, although quite capable of hauling a trainload of light freight were usually found working, paired, nose to nose. When driving bonnet first, visibility is limited, but when coupled in pairs, there is no restriction. Unlike other mainline diesel locomotives, which have a cab front and rear, the Class 20 has only one, which meant duplicating the controls at the one end instead of both.
There were two sub-classes, 20/3s and 20/9s. The 20/3s worked the stone trains out of Peak Forest and could often be seen running through Sheffield.
Drive a Diesel Train Experience - LinkExternal link
The six 20/9s belonged to Hunslet Barclay and were renumbered 20901 to 20906 in their ownership.
by Dave Hitchborne


Derby Lightweight single-car driving motor vehicle

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Standing here at the re-fuelling point, this Derby Lightweight single-car driving motor vehicle looks for all the world like one end of a 2-car or 3-car unit. Commonly known as 'Bubble cars', this railcar, which was built in Derby in 1954, is named 'IRIS' (International Railway Industry Standard). A name carried when employed as a test car.
Had the railcar been facing in the opposite direction, two distinctive exhaust pipes would have been seen in front of the windscreen, extending from buffer-bar to roof level.
The bridge carries Cemetery Lane, a road to nowhere that probably didn't start out that way. There is, however, a footpath at the end of it.
by Dave Hitchborne


Derby Lightweight single-car driving motor vehicle (close-up)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Close-up of a Derby Lightweight single-car driving motor vehicle with its distinctive 'yellow whiskers'. 'IRIS' is a former test car, which has been fully restored to a passenger carrying vehicle.
by Dave Hitchborne


Refuelling

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A volunteer refuels the 'Bubble car'. There is a catch-point just forward of the railcar. These are always operated by a lever.
by Dave Hitchborne


Derby Lightweight single-car driving motor vehicle at the station yard re-fuelling point

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A Derby Lightweight single-car driving motor vehicle stands at the station yard re-fuelling point, forward of the new-build carriage shed. The Ravenstor line runs to the far right, out of sight behind the containers. To the far left is the narrow-gauge line.
by Dave Hitchborne


Looking south down the station yard

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Looking south down the yard. The Derby Lightweight single car has come off the re-fuelling point. To the left is a Class 101 unit on the Ravenstor line. To the right is 'Hydra' 0-6-0 Class Vanguard, which was built in 1968.
by Dave Hitchborne


Carriage shed

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
As part of the 'Drive A Diesel Train Experience', we were escorted around the station yard and taken for a look inside the new carriage shed, that just so happens to have been built over a small portion of the former turntable, which can be seen here.
by Dave Hitchborne


Tank wagon

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Tank wagon. Sits almost beneath the Cemetery Lane bridge. The wagon is now used for storing water.
by Dave Hitchborne


Terminating narrow gauge and standard gauge lines

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
This view from under the Cemetery Lane bridge shows the terminating narrow gauge and standard gauge lines.
by Dave Hitchborne


Terminating narrow gauge and standard gauge lines (2)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
One of the 'rookies' for the 'Drive A Diesel Train Experience', who incidentally travelled from Scotland, is checking out the narrow gauge line. All lines north of Wirksworth Station terminate here except for the branch to Ravenstor.
Viewed from under the Cemetery Lane bridge.
by Dave Hitchborne


Terminating standard gauge lines

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
An hour had passed since the briefing, so there wasn't time to venture up to the end of the line, which is in the next square. A long shot from Cemetery Lane bridge was enough to show what would have been the entrance to a tunnel if the line had continued northwards.
by Dave Hitchborne


Overall view of the station yard

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Overall view of the station yard including the narrow gauge line.
by Dave Hitchborne


Track points

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
The tracks radiating out from beneath the Cemetery Lane bridge. The nearest point is set for ahead, but the next is set to turn to the left
by Dave Hitchborne


Narrow gauge line

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
The narrow gauge line. The line is open to carry passengers.
by Dave Hitchborne


Cemetery Lane bridge

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
At the time it was built, it was probably thought that the substantially built Cemetery Lane bridge would be used for more traffic than pedestrian access to a footpath. All lines terminate here except the line to Ravenstor.
by Dave Hitchborne


Three-way points

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
LMS 3rd Open 27162. We, the 'rookies', shunted it about the yard.
In the foreground is a three-way point system that was not in common use throughout the rail network, so this is quite rare.
by Dave Hitchborne


Three-way points (2)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
A look at the, 'fan', end of the three-way point system, which is a fairly rare occurrence on British rails. It is usually only two-way and certainly never more than three.
by Dave Hitchborne


Station Master's House

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Behind the fence are two tipper wagons, which stand by the Baileycroft tunnel portal. The wagons were used for the conveyance of quarried limestone.
To the rear is the former Station Master's House.
by Dave Hitchborne


Narrow gauge line and Baileycroft tunnel portal

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
An elevated view of LinkExternal link
This was taken from the footplate of a locomotive.
by Dave Hitchborne


Class Vanguard 0-6-0 'Hydra'

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
This is 'Hydra' 0-6-0 Class Vanguard, which was built in 1968. This ungainly looking locomotive has oversize buffers and I think the reason for that must be the large overhang either end of the wheels. If the buffers are well forward of the wheels they will take a larger radius curve on a bend and I guess that a normal size buffer would override the buffer of the vehicle it is pushing and they would lock when the train tried to enter the straight track. That's my theory anyway.
I'm not sure if 'Hydra' is in running order.
by Dave Hitchborne


Andrew Barclay & Sons Ltd 0-4-0ST No.3 'Brian Harrison'

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Andrew Barclay & Sons Ltd 0-4-0ST No.3 'Brian Harrison'. This steam locomotive was built in 1954 and worked at Ferrybridge Power Station for around 16 years and was then stored at Tinsley for the next 35 years.
by Dave Hitchborne


MyTestTrack.com road/rail vehicles

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Two road/rail vehicles. MyTestTrack.com offers a testing and training facility for rail engineering companies and is based in Wirksworth.
by Dave Hitchborne


Andrew Barclay & Sons Ltd 0-4-0ST No.3 'Brian Harrison'(2)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Ex-'Ferrybridge No.3'. The locomotive is now called 'Brian Harrison'. Unfortunately the engine wasn't in steam, but it is in fully working order.
by Dave Hitchborne


Class Steelman 6wDH 'L.J.Breeze'

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
This locomotive is our introduction to the 'Driver A Diesel Train Experience'. 'L.J.Breeze' is a Class Steelman 6wDH and until you've ridden on locomotive you don't realise how solid they are. Instead of the well sprung, diddley-dee, diddley- dah, of a railway carriage, it's more of a CLUNK, CLUNK, CLUNK.
Richard Buckby, our Driver/Instructor, leads the way and we, the four 'rookies', follow him into the crowded cab.
by Dave Hitchborne


Class Steelman 6wDH 'L.J.Breeze' (close-up)

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
Class Steelman 'L.J.Breeze' a Rolls Royce engined 6wDH, was built in 1969. Only five were ever made. You sit or stand sideways on to drive and all-round visibilty is pretty good. All four of us, on 'driver experience', took turns to shunt vehicles about the yard. Richard Buckby tutored.
by Dave Hitchborne


Ecclesbourne Valley Railway crest

SK2854 : Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth by Dave Hitchborne
The 'Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Association', was created by a group of enthusiast volunteers and became a registered charity (No. 1106810) with the expressed intention of creating a Heritage Railway.
This is the railway's crest and nameplate, as applied to Class Steelman 'L.J.Breeze', a Rolls-Royce engined 6wDH LinkExternal link
The locomotive, which was donated by Bombardier Transportation, is named after a former Rolls-Royce and Thomas Hill employee.
by Dave Hitchborne


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