Station Name: MILLERS DALE
[Source: Paul Wright]

Date opened: 1.6.1863
Location: West end of the viaduct that crosses B6049
Company on opening: Midland Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1967
Date closed completely: 6.3.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Platforms extant and some buildings extant. Other buildings including the goods shed have been retained as shells.
County: Derbyshire
OS Grid Ref: SK137732
Date of visit: June 1989 & 2.10.2009

Notes: Millers Dale Station was situated on what became the Midland Railway’s (MR) main line between Ambergate and Manchester Central.

Millers Dale station opened on the 1st of June 1863 on the MR line that had been authorised in May 1860 and completed in its entirety from Rowsley to Buxton by the stations opening date. Ever since the 1840s there had been a desire by the MR to reach the important industrial town of Manchester. Inter company rivalry, finance and landowner objections had all delayed things and it was only the possibility that rival companies might build a route between Derby and Manchester that finally moved the MR to get their Act of 1860. The line between Rowsley and Buxton was only the first stage though as on the 1st February 1867 a further line opened from a point a couple of miles to the west of Millers Dale to New Mills. This gave the MR a route stretching all the way to Manchester which it had long desired. 

Millers Dale Station was located a short distance to the southwest of its village namesake. When the station opened it was provided with two platforms. A substantial stone building which included a two storey station master's house was provided on the north side of the line on the southbound platform. The building was also provided with a canopy.  A goods shed was
provided to the west of the station buildings again on the north side of the line and the station had a 2-ton crane. It was served by sidings that passed behind the southbound platform. There were a number of private sidings including the Buxton Central Lime Co., Millers Dale Lime Co., Newton Chambers & Co and other companies.

Only simple waiting facilities were provided on the northbound platform. At first the station was served by trains running between Buxton and points to the south of Ambergate, including London. However with the opening of the line to New Mills on the 1st February 1867, Millers Dale station took on a much more important role than might be expected for a station that was 800 feet above sea level and in a very remote location. A subway linked the platforms was built in 1884..

From the 1st February 1867 most of the MR main line express services running through Millers Dale were scheduled to stop there. The reason for this was that the MR wished to offer a fast service from Manchester, and a few years later from Liverpool, to London that was competitive with its arch rivals the London North Western Railway (LNWR). Because of the way the

MR main line had developed Buxton had ended up being on a branch. If the MR ran its long distance express services into Buxton, a terminus station, it would then have to reverse them out again wasting valuable time. So it was decided that express trains would bypass Buxton. In order to provide the citizens of the spa town with the opportunity to travel on express services Millers Dale station was chosen to be an interchange station. The idea was that Buxton Passengers would travel to and from Millers Dale on local services. At Millers Dale express services would be available. To assist the people of Buxton even further, a shuttle service was introduced which ran only between Buxton and Millers Dale and which gave direct connections into main line services.

Some through coaches to London from Buxton did run but they were brought to Millers Dale and then attached to, or detached from, the express train

So despite its isolated position, Millers Dale became a very busy station. In April 1875 works were authorised for the creation of a single storey wooden waiting shelter on the northbound platform. The platform was ready for use by March 1877. Also in 1875 a line was laid at the rear of the northbound platform that connected into the line at the western end
of the station. This effectively created three platform faces. In the 1880s a run around loop was put in on this line so that Buxton shuttle services could use the third platform.

On the 1st May 1889 Millers Dale station was renamed as ‘Millers Dale for Tideswell’ Tideswell lay a few miles to the north but the MR wanted passengers to realize that they could reach that town from their station at Millers Dale.

By the early part of the 20th century Millers Dale, and the MR route generally, had become so busy that the MR decided to invest millions of pounds into improving the line in order to aid traffic flow. In 1905 Millers Dale Station sold 46,613 tickets. [This was the highest figure in MR days, other than in 1919/20 when bookings at most stations on the line increased
markedly, possibly due to train services and facilities being restored more-or-less to pre-war levels – although they fell away quite dramatically from 1921 as the introduction of motor bus services and falling inflation was not matched by reductions in train fares.] Many more passengers than this would have used it as an interchange point. The improvement works were carried out between 1902 and 1906. At Millers Dale an extra viaduct was constructed and the line was quadrupled. This necessitated the rebuilding of the station.

In its rebuilt form Millers Dale station was provided with five platforms, four of the platform faces being located on two island platforms.

Platform 1 was located on the north side of the line. The main station buildings were located here. They were single storey stone built in a grand style. They provided the station's booking facilities, waiting rooms and parcels office. Unusually for a British railway station the buildings on Platform 1 also housed the Millers Dale village post office. Generous canopies
were also provided to protect passengers from the weather.

Platforms 2 and 3 were located on an island platform. On this platform there were single storey stone buildings that contained waiting rooms and a two storey station master's house. Canopies were also provided on this platform.

Platforms 4 and 5 were also on an island platform. Again waiting facilities in the form of a single storey building with canopies were provided. Platform 5 was unlike the others, not a through platform. The line ended at a set of buffer stops at the east end of the platform. All of the platforms were linked by a subway. Platforms 1 and 4 were used by express and long
distance services. Platform 1 was for southbound and platform 4 for northbound services. Platforms 2 and 3 were for local and stopping services. Platform 2 was used by southbound and platform 3 by northbound trains. Platform 5 was provided specifically for the Buxton shuttle services.

The rebuilt station was given new and expanded goods facilities including a new goods shed and cattle dock. The originals had been demolished to make space for the additional tracks.. They were still located on the north side of the line at the western end of the station. A signal box at the west end of the station, on the south side of the line, controlled traffic movement at the station.

By 1922 there were 43 departures from Millers Dale. Fourteen of the departures went southbound and fifteen went northwards. Services ran to Buxton, Derby, Nottingham, London, Liverpool and Manchester. The rest of the departures were the Buxton Shuttles.

In 1923 Millers Dale became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The LMS also took over the LNWR routes between Manchester and London. However so busy were all of the routes that no reductions to services on the former MR occurred. The LMS introduced ‘push and pull’ trains on the Buxton Shuttle. This made traffic movements easier as
there was no need for an engine to run around its train at its destination points.

In 1948 Millers Dale became part of the nationalized British Railways (London Midland Region).  The station and the line remained busy through the 1950s and into the 1960s. Indeed service frequencies increased. In 1960 British Railways introduced the Diesel Pullman, or Blue Pullman as it became known, onto the MR route between Manchester Central and London St Pancras.  Unlike most express trains the Pullman did not stop at Millers Dale. During the British Railways era Millers Dale was served by local trains running between Buxton and Derby, between Manchester and Derby and by the frequent Buxton shuttle which from 14th October 1956 was provided by DMUs. With the introduction of the DMUs the service was expanded to nineteen in each direction. Long distance services ran south to London St Pancras and north to Manchester Central and to Liverpool Central.

It came as big surprise when the withdrawal of local stopping services (with Bakewell added later to the list of stations) and, by implication, the elimination of stops on express trains at Millers Dale was proposed in the Beeching report of 1963.

On 14th June 1965 the suffix ‘for Tideswell’ was dropped, so the station reverted to its pre-1889 name. Millers Dale goods depot closed on 27th August 1966 although a private siding remained in use after that date. Through goods service was withdrawn on 3rd October 1966 and on the 6th March 1967 Millers Dale Station was closed completely along with all of

the other stations between Matlock and Chinley. From this date local passenger services between Derby and Buxton/Manchester, and the shuttle services between Millers Dale and Buxton were both withdrawn, while express trains ceased to call at Millers Dale – the majority having stopped there hitherto. Express passenger services continued to pass until they were diverted via Chesterfield and the Hope Valley from 1st July 1968, and the line was closed from Matlock to Peak Forest Junction.. Track lifting began in 1969.

Millers Dale stations platform 1 buildings and its platforms have survived closure. In 1982 the Peak District National Park established the Monsal Trail, a long distance path that uses many miles of the former MR route including the section that passes through Millers Dale station.The surviving building is now in use as an office for the National Park Rangers and it also contains public toilets.

Sources: Lost Railways of Derbyshire by Stan Yorke. Published by Geoffrey Kingscott & The Monsal Trail then and now by Alistair Lofthouse – Ald print.

Other web sites: Peak Rail now providing a regular steam service between Matlock and Rowsley. David Hey's Collection - Transition from BR steam. Includes railway photographer ER Morten's photographic tour from Buxton - Derby.

Eight and a half miles of the Matlock - Buxton line now forms the Monsal Trail starting at Coombs Road Viaduct, one mile southeast of Bakewell and finishing at the head of Chee Dale, about three miles east of Buxton. There is a diversion round the tunnels.

Further reading: Railway from Buxton to Bakewell, Matlock and Ambergate (Scenes from the Past) by JM Bentley, 1992. Railways around Buxton by JM Bentley, 1987.

Additional source Glynn Waite. Tickets from Michael Stewart (except 9163 Bevan Price and 405 & 9587 Glynn Waite), route map drawn by Alan Young. Click here for a more detailed history of the complete closure process of the Derby - Buxton/Manchester line.

To see other stations between Manchester Central & Matlock click on the station name:Manchester Central, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Withington & West Didsbury, Didsbury, Heaton Mersey, Cheadle Heath, Hazel Grove (Midland), Buxworth, Chinley (2nd site) STILLOPEN, Chinley (1st site), Chapel-en-le-Frith Central,
Peak Forest, Cheedale Halt, Buxton (Midland), Blackwell Mill Halt, Monsal Dale, Great Longstone, Hassop, Bakewell, Rowsley (Second site), Rowsley (First site), Rowsley South PEAK RAIL, Darley Dale,
Matlock Riverside PEAK RAIL & Matlock STILL OPEN.
See also Stockport Tiviot Dale & Stockport Portwood

Looking east at Millers Dale station at the beginning of the 20th century just before it was rebuilt. At the time that this picture was taken the station had only three platform faces only two of which were through lines. The platform on the left of the picture was used by southbound trains and the platform on the right by northbound trains. The bay platform that was used by Buxton services is out of sight to the right.

Southbound train on Platform 1, note the headboard on the carriage 'Bristol, Birmingham and Liverpool.' There was a through carriage from Liverpool to Bristol by the 10.15 departure from at least the late 1890s, but this train ran non-stop from Chinley to Derby. From examining timetables , it would appear that a Bristol coach was added to the 11.50am departure from Liverpool in October 1903. there were no corresponding Bristol to Liverpool facility, all coaches running to Manchester only.
Photo received from Kenneth Lea

Looking west towards Millers Dale Station in 1912. The layout of the station and it five platforms is clearly shown in this view. Starting from the left is the Buxton bay platform from which the Buxton shuttle services ran. Next is the northbound fast line platform. Then the northbound slow. After that is the southbound slow and finally the southbound fast line platform. The viaduct nearest to the photographer was the first to be built and dates from the opening of the line as a double track railway. The furthest viaduct was part of a widening scheme that was carried out between 1900 and 1905.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Looking east from high ground at Millers Dale Station shortly after it had been enlarged in 1905. The picture clearly shows the layout of the station at its western end. The platform on the left of the picture is platform 1. It served express services going south. The station's goods facilities were behind it mostly out of view in this picture although some wagons can be seen at the goods yard entrance. Going towards the right the next platform was platform 2 and it served southbound local services. The platform through which the goods train is passing was platform 3 and it was used by northbound local services. Platform 4 is the other through platform and it was used by northbound express trains. Finally there was platform 5 which was not a through platform. It ended at a set of buffers which are behind the wooden waiting rooms. It was used by the Buxton shuttle service.
Photo from Stan Roberts collection/Peak Rail
The rear of a goods train that is being banked by the locomotive in view is seen after it has just passed westwards through the northbound slow line platform at Millers Dale station in May 1951. The steep climb from Rowsley to Millers Dale meant that many goods trains had to be
assisted by a banking engine.
Photo from John Mann collection

A 2-car 'Derby Lightweight' arrives at Millers Dale on the first day of the Buxton - Millers Dale dmu service on 14th October 1956
Copyright photo by ER Morten from the David Hey collection

A Sulzer type 4 locomotive, commonly known as 'Peaks' passes through the closed Millers Dale Station with a Manchester to London St Pancras Train in 1968. Although the station had only recently been closed many of its buildings had already been demolished.
Photo from Stan Roberts collection/Peak Rail

Millers Dale station in February 1976
Photo by Alan Young

Looking east at Millers Dale Station in 1978. The goods shed was extant at this time.
Photo by Neil Fergusson-Lee

Looking east along the surviving island platform in June 1989. The platform face on which the photographer is standing was used by fast trains that ran towards Manchester. The platform to the left was used by fast trains running towards the south.
Photo by Nick Catford

looking west at platforms 1 and 2 in July 2007. Platform 1 was on the right of the
picture and 2 on the left.
Photo by Ian Evans

Looking east along the former platforms 1 and 2 at Millers Dale Station in October 2009. Platform 1 is to the left and served southbound express services. Platform 2 is to the right and served northbound express services.
Photo by Paul Wright

Click here for more pictures of Millers Dale station




[Source: Paul Wright]

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