From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
Midland Railway
53° 3′ 47.52″ N, 1° 23′ 57.48″ W

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  • History
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The Midland Railway, Butterley is a heritage railway and station that includes the Swanwick Junction museum. It is located at Butterley close to Ripley in Derbyshire.

Midland Rail was first conceived in 1969 to commemorate the role of Midland Rail in the industrial history of Derbyshire. A working museum was proposed to restore, display and run the various trains used in the Midlands, be it main line passenger steam trains, diesel freight trains or Coal Board shunters. Volunteers from the Midland Railway Group collected and restored stock and operating equipment. Semaphore signals were also collected as these were being replaced with the more modern signaling equipment.

The museum was to be located along part of the former Pye Bridge to Ambergate line which was closed in 1968. Only part of the line could be used as the realignment of the A610 caused the track to be removed leaving three and a half miles of line from Hammersmith to Pye Bridge. A lot of reconstruction was needed as the Butterley Station had been demolished and Swanwick was just a slag heap.

Even though Midland Rail was promised help from Derbyshire County Council and the Derby Corporation this was not forthcoming due to lack of funds and finally they withdrew all support. The volunteers were not dismayed by this and soon formed the Midland Railway Company Ltd in 1973. The name was changed again as it became a charity to the Midland Railway Trust in 1976. Work on the selected site was started in 1973 with Butterley the focal point with the museum at Swanwick Junction. The original station at Butterley was demolished but this was replaced with an identical station from Whitwell in North Derbyshire. Work progressed fast that by 1975 a steam open day was presented to the general public with limited steam locomotives running but it was not until 1981 that the general public could ride on the trains.

Only one mile of track was available at first but the line was soon extended to Ironville and then almost to Pye Bridge going east and to Hammersmith in the west. Stations were built at Swanwick and Hammersmith, with signal boxes from Ais Gill, Kettering and Kilby Bridge located at the three stations on the line.

Butterley gained a locomotive shed and the museum site at Swanwick was enlarged, with a static power museum, a transport museum housing coached and buses and diesel deport built. A church was acquired from Westhouses, a gate house and coal merchants office came from St Mary's Goods Yard at Derby. A narrow gauge railway has also been built which follows the original tramway from Butterley Engineering.