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LOOKING BACK: Railway brought promise of grandeur for rural Derbyshire village

The railway in Chinley was one of the most important railway junctions on the Midland line.

Earlier this month saw the 150th anniversary of the official opening of Chinley Station.

The station was a late starter due to a landslip at Bugsworth on November 1, 1866, barely a month after new Midland Railway line to London through Chinley had been opened to goods traffic.

princes-hotel-chinley

The Princes Hotel in Chinley, 1903, formerly The Squirrel Inn

The line eventually reopened to goods traffic on January 24 the following year, and to passengers on February 7, 1867.

Henry Gregory, the former postmaster, is recorded as having bought the first railway ticket issued at Chinley Station.

With the construction of the Chinley to Dore and Sheffield line between 1888 and 1893, the world appeared to be Chinley’s oyster.

Local newspapers hailed the prospects and changes that were either underfoot or planned. Chinley gained direct railway access to Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham and Loughborough.

 

chinley-house

Demolition of the original Chinley Station House, which was rebuilt at Naze House on Maynestone Road

In January 24, 1908, there was considerable talk in railway circles of transferring the engine cleaning facilities at Buxton to Chinley, a move which would considerably increase the population and give added impetus to the building trade.

News headings in local papers highlighted the progress of the new Chinley, such as those in July 1909 which reported on a new shopping arcade, the prospect of a Co-operative Store and the upgrade of the railway lines from two sets to four.

In July 1910, Chinley got a new gas supply. There was much building of residential property of the villa-type in the village, the dominant houses in Lyme Park and the north side of Buxton Road, fulfilling the future promise of grandeur.

By this time, the railway in Chinley was one of the most important railway junctions on the Midland line.

 

chinley-station

Chinley Station with its many platforms and refreshment room

 

More shops were to follow on Lower Lane, Green Lane and Princess Street (later changed to Princes Road).

Chinley was talked about as the ideal residential place for commercial travellers and Manchester businessmen who had to make frequent journeys to London and other large towns on the Midland Railway network.

By the 1950s though, the headlines were starting to reflect on what could be a lost dream.

Chinley had been courted as the capital of High Peak due to its railway facilities, a much more convenient meeting place than Chapel-en-le-Frith.

 

chinley-aeiral

An aerial view of Chinley Station, dated June 1969

 

There were plans to declare the High Peak Parliamentary Election results at Chinley. A new secondary school was needed, amid calls for it to be built in Chinley because of its transport facilities. However it was all not to be. By the mid-1960s, Chinley and Buxworth Parish Council was opposing a plan by British Railways to withdraw passenger facilities at Chinley Station.

In a seven-page objection, the parish council disputed British Railways’ claim that Chinley served a rural population, denoting ten local firms by name and itemising five grades of usage of the train service.

Under a heading ‘Commuters to Manchester’, directors, managers, solicitors, clerks, typists, university lecturers and scientific workers were listed as making up ten per cent of the local working population.

Perhaps a sign of the times is that only one of the ten local firms mentioned in the dossier are still trading.

Buxworth Station eventually closed on September 15, 1958. It was purchased in 1969 by Burnage High School of Manchester and converted into an outdoor activity centre.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Chinley Station, plans are afoot by the Chinley and Buxworth Passenger Association to publish a book on the station’s history.

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