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Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:22 am
by Highpeak
As retirement approaches I am trying to decide if I want to build a last great project, which actually would be my first project and so probably will need to be not particularly great.

I grew up in Derbyshire and have been looking at some of the quieter parts of the Peak District's railways so that I would not be taking on too much work in building track, locomotives or rolling stock. One possible station is Hartington on the Buxton-Ashbourne line.

I'm trying to decide if it is perhaps a bit too quiet a place, but a bigger problem is that I realise I have no idea how the yard would have been shunted. As far as I can see the only access to the goods yard was from the down platform line.

Until 1963 traffic consisted of a through freight train in each direction between Buxton and Uttoxeter. The line south of Hartington closed in 1963 after which a train ran from Buxton as required.

The line approaches Hartington from Parsley Hay on a 1 in 100 downhill gradient, is level in the station and then continues towards Alsop at 1 in 100 down. The yard was a bit more elaborate than the signal box diagram shows, there were a couple of sidings including one which served the nearby quarry which provided some traffic up to closure in 1967. The only other traffic towards the end was a water tank for the cottages near the station.
Any advice on how this station would have been worked will be very welcome.


Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:22 pm
by John Palmer
I expect you've come across the photographs at The picture 'ash-64-04' is helpful as it shows quarry traffic being shunted, with what looks like an ex-LNW tender outside the brake - probably in use as a water carrier. 'ash-62-15' shows the connection into the yard off the down loop, confirming this is the only access thereto.

Individual vehicles destined for the dock/loading bank adjacent to the signal box might have been dropped into the neck south of 10 points and from there pushed/pinched into the dock. That would be the convenient way of dealing with such vehicles arriving on a down goods. For shunting quarry traffic, it would appear to have been mandatory to get the locomotive to the Alsop end of the train in order to move wagons in or out of the quarry sidings, regardless of the train's direction of travel.

I find it interesting that the connection into the yard was controlled by separate levers 10 and 11, rather than making a conection from both switch pairs to a single lever. Wonder why that was?

Anyhow, quite a nice prototype that apparently offers an opportunity to combine quite short trains with Super Ds. And the modular station buildings could be suitable candidates for reproducing by means of the Grand Junction component range.

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:47 pm
by Jeremy Suter
I find it interesting that the connection into the yard was controlled by separate levers 10 and 11, rather than making a connection from both switch pairs to a single lever. Wonder why that was?

I suspect 10 is a single slip so would need to be operated independently of 11

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:00 pm
by Highpeak
Thank you gentlemen for your replies.

A 1962 photograph in Foxline's Buxton to Ashbourne book shows the turnout 10 to be a tandem three way turnout. From the headshunt direction the first diverging road (to the left, over the crossing) is controlled by the signal box, the next set of point blades gives access to the horse dock that was occupied in later years by the track inspection car or, diverging to the right, to the siding that led to the quarry.

An older track diagram in the Foxline book shows a connection at the end of the headshunt to the running line. A photograph also from 1962 suggests that the connection was still there. I can't see any additional signals beyond what is on the diagram I posted (which is what is in the Hartington signal box). The connection is beyond the starter.

I am familiar with Wallace Sutherland's collection of photographs and they are very useful. He also kept a diary, some entries from which were published in the Foxline book on the line from Buxton to Whaley Bridge and Stockport. There is an entry for the day he took the picture you referenced of the shunting at Hartington. According to the diary, the train left Buxton with a couple of full water tanks which were dropped at Parsley Hay, presumably to go down to Middleton Top. It picked up the empty mineral wagons, carried on to Hartington and engaged in the shunting that is captured in the picture. The water tank in the picture is an empty and was picked up and taken back to Parsley Hay. It seems to have been the practice to leave the water tank on the quarry siding, it was the water supply for the station and the adjacent houses until a piped water supply was installed.

The diary doesn't go into the details of the shunting. Did the train run onto the down line when it entered the station, which would have been more convenient. By the time of Sutherland's visit the line south of Hartington was out of service. Prior to that though would this have been normal practice? Or would the train have entered the station on the up line, detached whatever wagons it had to shunt and then gained access to the down line via turnout 8. When the line was open to Ashbourne, would that be allowed without offering the train to Alsop so it could go past the starter signal? There doesn't seem to be an advanced starter.

I've been reading Bob Essery's books on railway operation and am struggling to see how this relatively simple station would have been worked given the signalling and track layout.

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 1:32 pm
by John Palmer
The 1922 revision of the 25" OS map reproduced on the National Library for Scotland site shows the additional outlet from the neck onto the single line, just inside the down home signal. Alignment of track on the OS map suggests that the formation was engineered for double track, but presumably only a single line was ever laid?

I see no problem with either of your proposed methods for shunting the station. The more straightforward would be to run an up train into the down loop. According to my ETB regs for single line working, shunting movements past the starting/section signal are permissible without withdrawal of a token. Indeed, the regs indicate that such a movement may go beyond the home signal - i.e. into the single line section - without the driver being in possession of the token, but in the case of any movement outside the home signal the signalman must block back to the box in rear of that signal and obtain an acknowledgment from that box of the blocking back signal before authorising such a movement. I've derived this from the April 1992 issue of these regulations, so this may not be an accurate reflection of what was permitted in earlier years.

Had 10 points been a single slip then Jeremy could be right that it would need independent control, but as you say that by 1962 it formed part of a tandem I still can't see a reason not to put the switches on what amounts to a crossover connection into the yard under the control of a single lever. In what circumstances would you reverse 10 but not 11, or vice versa?

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:14 pm
by Noel
John Palmer wrote:The 1922 revision of the 25" OS map reproduced on the National Library for Scotland site shows the additional outlet from the neck onto the single line, just inside the down home signal.

I have been looking at that as well, bottom right.

John Palmer wrote:Had 10 points been a single slip then Jeremy could be right that it would need independent control, but as you say that by 1962 it formed part of a tandem I still can't see a reason not to put the switches on what amounts to a crossover connection into the yard under the control of a single lever. In what circumstances would you reverse 10 but not 11, or vice versa?

Looking at the full layout, I would suggest that shunting was carried out on the line running up to the connection referred to above, with the rest of the train standing in the Down line platform with brakes pinned down. Points 11 are left set for the shunting neck, and 10 operated to permit wagons to be shunted onto the standing train. I would think that the train arrived on the Down line from Alsop-en-le-Dale. The loco ran round, collected the Brake Van and traffic for the sidings and reversed over points 11 and 10. Points 10 were then changed to permit shunting in the yard, the other points being hand operated. Points 11 can be left as they are, since the Down line is blocked anyway; trains can still be accepted on the Up line whist this is happening as it is protected by Points 10 being set for the yard. Any time the Up line is clear, vehicles can be attached to the rear of the train.

Running round again would have to be wrong road; the lack of signals for this is not conclusive as no shunting moves are signalled except over points 10 to the Down main. There are a lot of blank numbers on the diagram in the original post, which is clearly very late, so there might have been an advanced starter at some point, beyond the removed connection. Whether that connection had been to permit Down arrivals, Up departures or for the shunting neck to act as a lie-by or any combination of those is not really answerable without the full diagram. Certainly its removal suggests it was not needed for shunting by the time the diagram we have was drawn.

Alternatively, the whole train is pulled over the crossover 10/11, and the removed connection is there to allow for shunting long trains, which was no longer necessary close to closure, so the connection was removed.

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:52 pm
by bobwallison
Welcome to the club, Highpeak - I have an EM gauge model of Hartington in my loft and am currently progressing with the yard and depot at Buxton for the other side of the loft. More of that anon.

As well as the references you mention, I also have Rails to Ashbourne by Howard Stringer, an earlier signal box diagram and a couple of freight working timetables for the line. From all that information, it seems:
- the diamond was always a diamond and not a slip. In any case, it was only 200ft from the toe of 8 to the centre of the diamond, so a slip would have been of no value;
- there were four roads in the goods yard, behind the signal box. One of these served the (very small) quarry and was rather long;
- according to Springer the last through freights Buxton-Ashbourne-Uttoxeter ran on 7th October 63 but the track south of Hartington was not lifted until late in 1964. General goods services were provided at Hartington until 6th July 64 and services to the quarry ceased on 2nd October 67.
- the working timetable for 1962 shows only the two through freights per day in each direction and the local goods which shunted the yard and came down from Friden, before returning there. Of course it must have passed through Parsley Hay to get to Hartington and back.

So I think there are two distinct operating patterns: one with the line and services continuing down to Ashbourne and the extra crossover between main line and headshunt at the Ashbourne end: the other with the line to Ashbourne closed and only one train a day. In the first case, I see no reason why the train wouldn't run through the Up platform and continue over the additional crossover before reversing the whole shooting match into the goods yard. Once the wagons were sorted, the brake van could be attached at the rear (Ashbourne) end then the train would be pushed though the diamond onto the down line while the engine ran round, wrong road, in readiness for the run back to Parsley Hay and Friden. No need to pin down brakes at any stage and the brake van will hold the wagons while the train is in the down platform. And with a total of just five trains a day at the station, obtaining a token for the track beyond station limits would hardly be a problem - if they bothered at all.

In the second scenario, the line to Hartington is effectively a long siding, operated by one engine in steam, so I should think anything goes. I agree that the train would likely approach through the Down platform, stop for the driver and signalman to have a chat and then run straight over the diamond into the headshunt. Following moves would be as per the first scenario.

So back to my own experiences with Hartington. The line was quite popular with excursion traffic, and I always operate on excursion days (!) - double headed Black Fives with eight Mk1 coaches - yippee! The two through freights a day are quite fun as well, but I wanted a bit more than just one pick up goods a day so I have postulated that the local quarries grew rather than shrank in the 1960's. The output now is so great that they need four exchange sidings off the goods loop and a short branch at the Buxton end serving even more (offstage) quarry sidings. It is fun to operate, but it isn't really Hartington any more and I have to admit that bothers me sometimes. I might move up to Hindlow, nearer Buxton, in due course.

If you're still concerned about how quiet Hartington is, perhaps a condensed version of Parsley Hay would serve? that would give you all the traffic that ran through Hartington, plus the exchange traffic from and to the High Peak Railway.


Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:40 pm
by Andy W
Bob, if you’re having fun then surely you can just enjoy your layout? Or is that heresy?

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:39 pm
by Highpeak
Thank you again for some interesting responses which give food for thought and suggest ways the station was worked. The attraction of a real place lies mostly in the fact that somebody else did all the design of the track and signalling arrangements, so it's easier to get it all right.

The Ashbourne line was indeed laid out for a double track formation although south of Parsley Hay it was only ever a single track line. The L&NWR viewed the line as possibly providing a more direct southerly route from Manchester to the Midlands, and until 1917 there was a through coach service from Buxton to London. Whatever plans the L&NW may have had were quickly forgotten and the line led a fairly quiet existence for its 60 odd years of service.

There were in fact two quarries at Hartington. The long siding running to the south served Glossop's quarry, although the 1919 OS map doesn't seem to acknowledge the existence of this working. The Buxton to Ashbourne book (Foxline) notes that the private siding agreement for that quarry ended in November, 1966 although how active it was in later years is hard to tell. Given the importance of stone quarrying in the Peak District the lack of any works dealing with its history is sad.

As previously noted, the line south of Hartington closed in late 1963, so the connection from the headshunt may have been removed at that time. Might it have been left in place and operated by hand levers? Wallace Sutherland's diary entry (21st August, 1964) mentions that even though the line was out of service there was no evidence of track being lifted in the immediate area.

I am pleased to hear that somebody else has found the location of interest. The idea of an alternative history is always a good way of resolving some of the drawbacks with otherwise good locations, and if I do proceed with a railway based in this area there will be some alterations to the historical record, if only so I can run other locomotives, steam or diesel, that were around the Buxton area. But the relative quietness of the area isn't much of a drawback to me, I'd be quite happy with a short operating session of a couple of trains and then go back to the workbench. I am also attracted to the idea of arranging a continuous run so a train could be left circulating as background art while working. There's also a hidden motive there, my partner has often said she would like to see a train just running through a representation of Derbyshire fields.

The further north you go the more traffic there is of course because you have the sizeable quarries at Sterndale Moor and Hindlow, with traffic coming down to Hindlow from the various works up at Hillhead (where my grandfather worked in the quarry). Apart from the space requirement I have to say the amount of track, locomotives and rolling stock needed gives me pause for thought, even though it is probably the area with which I am most familiar. The line ran right past my grandparents' back garden on an embankment and I remember waving to the crew and then trying to count the seemingly endless trains of wagons. I doubt I'd live long enough to make enough wagons to reproduce that!

Re: Hartington (Derbyshire)

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 5:56 pm
by bobwallison
Andy W wrote:Bob, if you’re having fun then surely you can just enjoy your layout? Or is that heresy?

Good thinking Andy, but definitely heresy :D

Once I have built the yards at Buxton, I plan to try operating Hartington as-is, but also try operating it as though it were Hindlow, to see which is more fun.

Oh no! There's that f.. word again.