[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 2.1.1893
Location: 200 yards south of High Street (B6025)
Company on opening: Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 4.3.1963
Date closed completely: 4.5.1964
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: The cutting has been infilled and the station is either demolished or buried, no evidence remains.
County: Derbyshire
OS Grid Ref: SK440606
Date of visit: 16.6.2008

Notes: The railways first came to Tibshelf to transport coal from a number of collieries in the vicinity. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company were the last to arrive at the town, in response to the development of the 'top pits' in the 1880's. They laid a line through the centre of the village and opened Tibshelf Town station on 2nd January 1893.

The mines and the railway companies became reliant on each other and the success of Tibshelf's mines is evident in the building of three railway stations in a village of less than three thousand people, as the profits from passenger transport would be minimal.

Coal traffic was always the major revenue earner and the passenger services were of relatively minor importance to the railways in Tibshelf, though the villagers were eager to make use of those that were available and gradually, services were improved. At the request of the Parish Council, services at Tibshelf Town station were improved in 1898 and when, in1906, the late night Nottingham train was discontinued, there was such an outcry that the company had to start a new service. The railways were probably as important to the village as the mines. One old villager nostalgically recalled that it took navvies three years of back - breaking work to dig the cutting through the village. He watched it as a boy, and in the early 1970's he saw it filled in in three weeks. The services were eagerly used for day trips to Mansfield, Chesterfield, Derby and Nottingham and the ultimate annual treat, a visit to the seaside, usually Skegness, when the village was almost totally deserted.

Tibshelf Town station was a typical station on the northern end of the line with two side platforms each with a timber and brick building and a substantial canopy reaching almost to the platform edge, the width was later reduced. A covered footbridge spanned the tracks. There was a goods yard with a large goods shed on the down side of the line to the south of the station with a further three sidings on the up side which were used by colliery traffic. Tibshelf signal box was sited on the up side opposite the goods yard. Two sidings to the south of the station ran into Tibshelf Colliery. The colliery is also served by sidings from the Tibshelf & Pleasley line of the Midland Railway which passes under the Great Central to the south of Tibshelf Town station. The station was sited at the end of a deep cutting some 200 yards south of the High Street and access to the station was along a steep road on the down side and a path on the up side.

Following the decline in passenger traffic after WW2, the building on the up side of the line was demolished, probably in the late 1950s and replaced by a waiting shelter. The covering on the footbridge was also removed. The building on the down side survived until closure of the station on 4th March 1963 when local services on the Great Central were withdrawn. Initially goods traffic was retained but this too was withdrawn on the 4th May 1964.

Today the Five Pits Trail runs through the site of Tibshelf Town station. The Trail provides an off-road surfaced route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It is a 5½ mile linear route from Grassmoor Country Park to Tibshelf Ponds running for much of it's length along the course of the Great Central Railway. There is a separate bridleway, adjacent to the footpath to the south of the station through the site of the old goods yard called the 'Station Gallop'. Source: Derbyshire Lads at War 1914-1918 web site.

The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS & L) was formed in 1846 by the
amalgamation of the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway with two proposed
lines - the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway and the Great Grimsby and Sheffield
Junction Railway; the SA & M had opened between Manchester and Sheffield Bridgehouses in
1845. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway ran between Manchester London Road
(now Piccadilly) via Penistone to Sheffield (the Woodhead route) and on to Brigg, Grimsby and Cleethorpes. A second line left the main line at Penistone and served Barnsley, Doncaster and Scunthorpe before rejoining the Grimsby line at Barnetby. The MS & LR opened a line from Sheffield Bridgehouses to Beighton for passengers on the 12th February 1849. Passengers going south and to London changed on to the ‘Midland’ line at Eckington. On 15th September 1851 a new station called Sheffield Victoria was opened a short distance to the south west of the Bridgehouses terminus which was retained as a goods depot.

In 1854, Edward Watkin became General Manager and then in 1864 chairman of the Company. Watkin's ambition was to build a rail link between the industrial heartland of Manchester and Sheffield, south to London and through a tunnel beneath the channel to reach Paris and the expanding markets of Continental Europe

In order to fulfil his ambitions, Watkin also became Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway who were in the process of extending their line northwards towards Rickmansworth and the South Eastern Railway connecting London with Dover. Initially, Watkin tried to convince other companies to build links with the MS & L allowing him to reach London but he was unable to reach agreement and eventually was left with little option than to build his own line southward from Sheffield to reach the Metropolitan.

In the 1890's the MS&LR began construction of its 'Derbyshire Lines', in effect the first part of its push southwards. Leaving its east - west main line at Beighton Junction, some 5 1/2 miles east of Sheffield, the line headed south through the Nottingham coal field with a branch line serving its new Central Station in Chesterfield. In July 1890 the MS&LR obtained another act to extend from Chesterfield to Heath creating a loop line. Work started on this new section, of some 4¾ miles, before construction on the original line was finished and opened in July 1893.

In 1893 the MS&LR obtained Parliamentary approval to extend this line to London (known as the ‘London Extension’. Construction of the 92 mile route started in 1895 and on 1st August 1897 the company changed its name to the Great Central Railway; it was the last 'main line' to be built until the Channel Tunnel rail link in 2003.

Due to its late construction, the company was able to take advantage of the latest technology including steam excavators. It was heavily engineered with viaducts and wide cuttings with a maximum gradient of 1 in 128; there were no sharp curves or level crossings which would ensure a fast service for both passengers and freight. Most of the stations on the ‘London extension’ were built to a standard design consisting of an island platform with the booking office located on the platform. All the stations were built on an embankment or in a cutting adjacent to a road bridge, with access via stairs from the middle of the bridge; only the larger intermediate stations like Rugby and Loughborough had street level buildings.  Because Edward Watkin also expected his trains to reach Europe through a channel tunnel, the line was also built to a larger continental (Berne) loading gauge. The Great Central opened for coal traffic on 25 July 1898, for passenger traffic to a new terminus at Marylebone on 15 March 1899 and for general goods traffic on 11 April 1899.

The new line was built from Annesley in Nottinghamshire to join the existing Metropolitan Railway which had now reached Quainton Road in Buckinghamshire, where the line became joint Met/GCR owned (after 1903), it returned to GCR metals near Finchley Road for the final section into Marylebone. In 1903, new rails were laid parallel to the Metropolitan Railway from Harrow to the junction north of Finchley Road, enabling more traffic to use Marylebone. Although the new line had now reached London, Edward Watkin was unable to fulfil his ambition as he was forced to retire through ill health.

From the outset, the line had to compete with established north – south routes and the first train only carried a disappointing four passengers so the company had to work hard to win passengers from its rivals; with  a well managed Advertising campaign and the introduction of a fast and efficient train service the companies fortunes slowly improved although it was never a match for its rival lines.

In the 1923 grouping, the Great Central became part of the London & North Eastern Railway which brought an increase in freight traffic from the south Midlands and south west England but the LNER's main north - south route was into London Kings Cross so the Great Central was always considered as a secondary route.

After nationalisation, the line became part of British Railways Eastern Region but was transferred to the London Midland Region in 1958. By this time the service was already in decline with the increasing popularity of the car and it was unable to compete with other north - south routes as the line passed through sparsely populated areas south of Rugby. Manchester to London express services were withdrawn on 2nd January 1960 leaving only three semi-fast trains a day and it came as little surprise when the line became the first main line to close in the Beeching era. Beeching considered that the Great Central was a duplicate route which could be sacrificed in favour of the Midland main line.

Many of the intermediate stations, including the Chesterfield loop closed on 4th March 1963 and long distance freight services were withdrawn shortly afterwards.  Annesley Motive Power Depot (between Nottingham and Sheffield) closed on 3rd January 1966 and Nottingham Victoria closed on 5th September 1966 along with the remaining stations south of Rugby. The track was lifted between Rugby and Calvert leaving a diesel multiple unit (DMU) shuttle service operating between Rugby and Arkwright Street and the southern section of the line between Aylesbury and London Marylebone which still carried considerable commuter traffic. The northern section of the line between Sheffield Victoria and Woodhouse also remained open as this also formed part of the Sheffield to Lincoln line. The line north of Nottingham remained in use until May 1968 serving the collieries at Annesley and Newstead and was eventually lifted in October/November 1969.

In 1968 the London Railway Preservation Society chose Quainton Road as its new base, the society being renamed as the Quainton Railway Society; this has now developed into the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre covering 25 acres. The Centre boasts one of the largest private railway collections in the country with numerous steam locomotives, many housed in the former listed trainshed from Oxford Rewley Road which was dismantled and rebuilt at Quainton Road in 1999/2000.

The shuttle service between Nottingham and Rugby lasted until 3rd May 1969. As closure approached a group of railway enthusiasts got together to discuss the possibility of buying a section of the track to operate preserved steam locomotives.  A steam service was reinstated between Loughborough and Quorn in 1973 and in 1976 Charnwood Borough Council agreed to purchase the land from BR and lease it to the railway for 99 years. Despite a shaky start, the Great Central Railway PLC are now operating throughout the year between their headquarters at Loughborough Central and a new station called Leicester North just inside the city boundary. The remaining track between Leicester - Rugby was lifted in early 1970.

North of Loughborough, the line remained open for freight traffic after closure to passengers in 1969 serving the gypsum mine at East Leake and the Ruddington Ordnance Storage and Disposal Depot south of Nottingham. This traffic ceased in the 1980's and the track north of Loughborough was mothballed by BR until 2000. In the early 1990's a group of transport enthusiasts set up the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) Ltd with the aim of redeveloping the derelict Ruddington Ordnance depot as part of a country park project. The depot was turned into the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (NTHC) and trains were run on a small length of line into the depot.

The NTHC's aim was to reinstate the remaining line into Loughborough where it joins the GCR
PLC thus forming a single 18 mile preserved line. In the 1990's NTHC obtained a loan to buy
the track from Railtrack. Gypsum traffic resumed in 2000 with up to two daily trains and revenue from British Gypsum is used to pay off the loan. Rushcliffe Halt has now been restored and in 2003 regular services were reinstated although passenger trains south of Rushcliffe Halt are limited to the second Sunday of each month as there is no station at Loughborough.

It is now both groups aim to reinstate two bridges, one over the Midland main line north of Loughborough, rebuild 300 yards of embankment and relay little more than a quarter of a mile of track. As well a 'bridging the gap' between the two preserved lines further long term proposals would see the line extended southwards to Leicester Abbey and northwards from Ruddington to join up with the Nottingham tram network and on to Nottingham city centre.

Sheffield Victoria closed on 5th January 1970 with the closure of the Woodhead route and trains from Lincoln were diverted into Sheffield Midland. Although the southern section of the main line remained open, it too was proposed for partial closure in 1986. Aylesbury was to remain open but all services would run into Paddington via Princes Risborough. Marylebone Station was due to close on 12th May 1986 but the station was eventually reprieved and the closure proposals were rescinded. Following rail privatisation in the 1990's, Chiltern Railways took over the route and in 2006 two new platforms were built at Marylebone on the site of the old daytime carriage sidings. The new platforms and partial resignalling of the station throat now make it possible to run 20 trains per hour in and out of the station.

North of Aylesbury the track remains in place but is only used by waste freight trains to the landfill site at Calvert where a junction with the Oxford - Cambridge line remains in use. On selected days, usually bank holidays, special passenger services run to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road station. There are now proposals to extend the passenger services northwards to a new station called Aylesbury Vale Parkway at the point where the line crosses the A41 near Berryfields Farm. This area is to be known as the Berryfields Major Development Area and will include park and ride facilities for Aylesbury.

With our motorway network now working at capacity there have been a number of proposals to reopen other sections of the Great Central main line and in 2006 Central Railway was formed to look into the feasibility of building a new rail link from central England to the Channel Tunnel which would include rebuilding part of the Great Central route south of Rugby reviving a 1990’s government proposal to reopen that section of the line as part of a fast rail link from Scotland to the Channel Tunnel.

Preservation group web sites: The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, The Great Central Railway (steam service between Loughborough and Leicester North) & Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (steam service between Ruddington and Loughborough)

Selected other web sites: The Transport Archive contains further detailed history of the Great Central plus a vast collection of 2344 'on line' photographs many ( the Newton Collection) taken during the construction of the London Extension. Chris Ward's Annesley Web site featuring numerous photographs of the Great Central around Nottingham and the Annesley Motive Power Depot. Great Central Railway through Leicester. Nigel Tout's web site with numerous photographs of the Great Central remains around Leicester and a series of archive photographs of the line. Bridging the Gap details ongoing work to reinstate the link between the two preserved lines. The Great Central Railway Society promotes an historical interest in the Great Central Railway.

Selected further reading: Great Central Memories by John MC Healey published 1987 by Baton Transport ISBN 0 85936 193 4 - heavily illustrated history of the London Extension. Great Central Then and Now by Mac Hawkins - published (2nd edition) by BCA 1992 ISBN 0 7153 9326 X , station by station photographic survey of the Great Central between Sheffield and London with numerous 'then and now' photographs. See also Sheepbridge & Brimington Station and construction of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway through Brimington by Philip Cousins. Published in St. Michael & All Saints, Brimington parish magazine. (Click here for full text). All tickets from Michael Stewart except 9150 Glynn Waite

Too see other stations on the Great Central Railway between Sheffield Victoria and Aylesbury click on the station name: Aylesbury, Waddesdon, Quainton Road (1st site), Quainton Road (2nd site)**, Calvert, Finmere, Brackley Central, Helmdon, Culworth, Woodford Halse, Charwelton, Braunston & Willoughby, Rugby Central, Lutterworth, Ashby Magna, Whetstone, Leicester Central, Leicester North***, Belgrave & Birstall, Rothley**, Swithland****, Quorn & Woodhouse**, Loughborough Central**, East Leake, Rushcliffe Halt**, Ruddington, Ruddington Factory Halt, Arkwright Street, Nottingham Victoria, Carrington, New Basford, Bulwell Common, Bulwell Hall Halt, Hucknall Central, Annesley South Junction Halt, Hollinwell & Annesley, Kirkby Bentinck, Pilsley, Heath, Staveley Central, Renishaw Central, Killamarsh Central, Beighton (1st site), Beighton (2nd site), Woodhouse Junction, Woodhouse*, Darnall*, Sheffield Victoria & Sheffield Bridgehouses.
Chesterfield loop - Staveley Works, Brimington, Chesterfield Central & Grassmoor

* Station still open but included for completeness ** Station reopened by Great Central steam railway and Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre *** New station opened by Great Central steam railway
**** Station planned and partially built but not opened

Tibshelf Town Station Gallery 1: c1905 - c1950s

Tibshelf Town station looking north before September 1905. The single storey timber platform buildings with wide canopies stretching up to the platform edge was was typical of stations at the northern end of the Great Central.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1899 1:2,500 OS map. Tibshelf Town station is in a deep cutting 200 yards south of High Street. The main station building is on the down side with waiting rooms of as similar size on the up platform. Wide canopies stretching the full width of the platforms are shown. There is a covered footbridge footbridge just north of the station buildings. A steep access road from the High Street runs to the station forecourt and on to serve the goods yard. to the south of the station. The yard is on the up side with one siding running through a large goods shed. There are also three sidings on the down side running behind the signal box. To the south of the station two sidings run into Tibshelf Colliery.
Click here for a larger version.

Tibshelf Town station looking north in the first decade of the 20th century. A number of bridge are seen in the distance. The High Street road bridge is partly hidden by the covered station footbridge. Beyond that, a pipe conduit spans the line with Church Lane bridge in the far distance.
Photo from John Mann collection

Tibshelf Town station c1908. Note the wide canopies stretching almost to the platform edge. The width was later reduced by almost half.

Aerial view of Tibshelf Town station (bottom right) in the early 1950s. The main station building is on the down platform with a forecourt at the end of an approach road. The road also gives access to
the goods yard.

Tibshelf town signal box was on the up side to the south of the station; three sidings are seen running behind the box; these were for colliery traffic. The signalman is believed to be Nev Davis.
Photo from Tibshelf Parish Council web site

Tibshelf Town station in the c.1950's note the width of the platform canopies has now been reduced and shortened. The goods shed and signal box are seen in the distance.

Looking north from the north end of Tibshelf Town station down platform circa 1950s. Beyond the High Street bridge a pipe conduit spans the line.
Photo from John Mann collection

Tibshelf Town station looking south (undated) from the access path to the up platform. Note the covering has been removed from the footbridge. The goods yard is seen in the distance with sidings on both side of the line; those on the up side were for colliery traffic. The large goods shed is on the down side with the signal box on the up side.
Photo from John Mann collkection

Click here for Tibshelf Town Station Gallery 2:
c1959-1963 - June 2008

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