Rails to Ashbourne
by Howard Sprenger
Passing through the beautiful scenery on the border of Derbyshire and Staffordshire from the White Peak landscape of the limestone area surrounding Ashbourne to the grimmer, less-hospitable, Dark Peak of Buxton, the London & North Western Railway’s picturesque line from Ashbourne to Buxton has long been a favourite of railway historians and photographers. Along its route, it served remote communities, often isolated by winter snowfalls, and industry in the form of limestone quarries that seem to be eating away north-west Derbyshire to leave a permanent blizzard-white panorama. If the attraction of the scenery were not enough to generate interest in the line, it also had the distinction of being partly aligned on the northern half of the famous Cromford and High Peak Railway.
At its southern end, it made an end-on junction with a line built by a different railway company, the North Staffordshire Railway – a line that has tended to be overlooked in other published works. This book redresses the balance by viewing the line as a whole.
The two lines were quite different in character. The earlier line, from Uttoxeter to Ashbourne, was very much rooted in the railway mania of the mid-19th century. The later one, from Buxton to Ashbourne, was a comparatively recent addition, built after the railway network of Great Britain had been largely completed. This was a period of consolidation when the sometimes highly-speculative schemes of fifty years earlier had given way to strategic routes that filled in some of the last-remaining gaps on the railway map. Where the earlier line was built by navvies using only the most basic tools and equipment, the later line had the benefit of half a century of railway-building expertise. In historical terms, the line from Uttoxeter to Ashbourne is more contemporary with the original Cromford and High Peak Railway than the extension to Buxton, which largely superseded it.
“This splendid book…is a welcome and fascinating addition to railway writing.” Backtrack
Softback: No of pages 176, with 16 pages of colour photographs
Over 300 illustrations (colour and black &
273 x 215mm
Our sincere thanks to High Peak Radio for allowing us to host their interview with author, Howard Sprenger, about Rails to Ashbourne