Steaming back into town

Full Steam Ahead: Station Master Mick Cramp keeps a close watch on the platform as the first steam train arrives on time for the offical opening of Peak Rail at Matlock.
Full Steam Ahead: Station Master Mick Cramp keeps a close watch on the platform as the first steam train arrives on time for the offical opening of Peak Rail at Matlock.

Steam trains are once again chugging in to Matlock Station – after almost 50 years.

A four-day celebration took place in the town to mark the long-awaited plans to extend Peak Rail’s heritage line.

Hundreds flocked to Matlock to see the first steam passenger train for 50 years run between Matlock and Rowsley South Station.

Dedicated volunteers have been responsible for the major project, which has been in the pipeline for several years.

Peak Rail is now preparing to bring extra visitors to the town as the station hosts steam train excursions from across the country.

The attraction’s steam and diesel train are now connected to the rail network.

Joint managing director Jackie Statham said: “It was a fantastic event and was very busy. A lot of local people said it was wonderful to see steam trains back in the station again.

“This is something the railway members, shareholders and volunteers have waited a long time for and this weekend was a celebration of all their support and achievement.”

The new half mile extension runs from Matlock Riverside to the station.

The official opening ceremony was carried out by Sainsbury’s zone managing director Neil Whitehouse and Matlock store manager Michael Parry, on Saturday.

Sainsbury’s has supported the project and the firm has allowed an access ramp to be built on to the refurbished platform from its land.

They were joined by Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, who cut a celebratory cake.

Mr McLoughlin said: “I was delighted to be asked to join in the celebrations at Peak Rail at the weekend. I have followed its progress with interest for many years. I know that only a huge amount of hard work and perseverance has brought the project to this stage.

“Derbyshire Dales has a lot to offer visitors, and this will be an added attraction in Matlock.

“It has the added advantage of appealing to all ages and being available all year round. I hope lots of local people will enjoy it, too.”

A plaque was also unveiled in memory of former Peak Rail joint managing director, the late Jeremy Clegg.

Sunday’s celebrations saw the opening of the Engine Shed at Rowsley South Station.

The Engine Shed Workshop has been dedicated to volunteer Roger Bennett, who left a legacy to the railway which funded building costs.

Work on the platform, which has been disused since 1970, has been carried out over the past few weeks.

The railway is now set to start work on a major project to reopen the line between Matlock and Bakewell.

A planning application is to be submitted to extend the line to Rowsley village.