Miller’s Dale Station was one of the sites on the Waterways & Railways across the Derbyshire Peak tour in June 2010. It’s a parking place on the Monsal Trail which utilises the trackbed from just west of Bakewell through to Blackwell Mill, a couple of miles from Buxton town centre.
The whole line is an astonishing piece of engineering, carved through the dales of the River Wye in the 1860s to the fury of John Ruskin, who complained that it destroyed an idyllic landscape so that “every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton”. The rapid succession of viaducts, cuttings and tunnels led the railwaymen to call this line “the flute”.
Travellers gaze at the huge expanse of the former station, and wonder why the Midland Railway built a five-platform station on a shelf halfway up a remote cliff-face. The reason was to provide a connection between the dead-end branch line to Buxton and the fast trains between Derby and Manchester, and – from 1905 – to allow expresses to overtake the heavy goods trains that struggled up the grade from Rowsley.
Ironically, when the line closed in 1968, there was uproar at a plan to demolish the Monsal Dale Viaduct, and in the 1980s the Peak Park Planning Board concluded that it was far cheaper to repaint the magnificent iron and steel Miller’s Dale Viaducts than to dismantle them.
This means that it remains possible for PeakRail to bring train services back to Miller’s Dale, one day. When this plan becomes a reality, I suspect there will be an outcry from nature-lovers at the destruction of wildlife on the trail, and once again every fool in Buxton can swap places with every fool in Bakewell if they wish.
There’s a detailed account with a collection of images of Miller’s Dale Station at ttp://www.disused-stations.org.uk/m/millers_dale/index.shtml, and Graeme Bickerdike provides an informative update on the physical condition of the engineering structures along the line at http://www.forgottenrelics.co.uk/bridges/monsal.html.
At present, Miller’s Dale Station has nothing to offer but public lavatories. The nearby café, known as the Wriggly Tin, is now a house. But according to a recent press report, this situation may shortly improve: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/localnews/3m-visitor-centres-hopes-for.6349207.jp.
The 56-page, A4 handbook for the 2010 Waterways & Railways across the Derbyshire Peak tour, with text, photographs, maps, a chronology and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing. To view sample pages click here. Please send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.