World’s oldest railway booking office to open in Derbyshire

The Old Tannery at Wirksworth will house a new railway booking office.
The Old Tannery at Wirksworth will house a new railway booking office.

The world’s oldest railway booking office is set to open in Wirksworth.

Part of the Old Tannery, adjacent to Wirksworth Station, has been transformed into a new booking office for the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.

Built around 1750, the tannery predated the railway by 117 years and formed part of the complex, still present today, called Newbridge Works, named after a bridge built over the River Ecclesbourne which was subsequently absorbed by the station and yard.

Secretary of State for Transport, Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, will open the new booking office next Friday, February 5.

Neil Ferguson-Lee, Vice Chairman of the heritage railway group - which operates the line between Wirksworth and Duffield - said: “We cannot claim to have the world’s oldest booking office ever. That accolade goes to Red Hall in Bourne, Lincolnshire, built ca. 1605 and sold in 1860 to the Bourne and Essendine Railway Company for use as a booking office and stationmaster’s house. The hall was closed as a railway building in 1959.”

The Old Tannery was used originally by an animal skin company to store the raw hides before being sent away for processing. Around the turn of the 1900s, the building became associated with the railway through the Fletcher Brothers company which dealt in animal feeds.

The booking office is situated at mezzanine level, the tannery’s ground floor being some 20 feet below platform level.

“Our volunteers have renovated the mezzanine, installed internal partition walls, heating, lighting and a welcoming counter area to greet our customers who will enter through an upgraded accessible entrance,” added Neil.