One of the oldest Railway Viaducts in England
If you take a walk along King’s Mill Lane to the reservoir, then just before the outfall, on the left, is a stone viaduct with a date stone of 1817. This is one of the oldest railway viaducts in England, and this year, 2017, is its 200th anniversary.
The viaduct was part of the Mansfield to Pinxton Railway, which was the subject of the Mansfield to Pinxton Railway Act passed on 6th June 1817, although the railway itself did not open officially until Easter Tuesday of 1819. The line was 7 3/4 miles long, and gave Mansfield a connection to the Erewash canal at Pinxton Wharf.
The track was of the ‘Outramway’ style, as advocated by Mr. Benjamin Outram of Butterley, with ‘tram plates’ having a ledge on the inner side to keep the wheels on the lines. This system was adopted since it allowed vehicles with ordinary wheels to run along the track so long as their wheels were the correct distance apart ie. they had the correct gauge.
The track had stiff gradients and sharp turns, the trucks being drawn by bullocks up to the summit at Kirkby and then allowed to roll under their own weight ! Initially there were no regular passenger services, but then trucks were temporarily converted with rudimentary seats to take passengers to Mansfield on market days. Around 1832 a covered, horse-drawn, four-wheeled carriage was built and The Boat Inn at Pinxton ran a regular weekly passenger service between Pinxton and Mansfield, again on market days.
Despite being impossible for steam engines to negotiate, the tonnage of goods carried was quite considerable, totalling over 57,000 tons during 1834, of which 50,000 tons was coal and coke. Other goods carried were sand, stone, timber, metals and manure !
The viaduct never carried locomotives because of its tight curves, and this was its downfall. The whole line was purchased by Midland railway in 1847, and in 1849 was modernised, which involved straightening the line and building a new viaduct, originally of wood but later of stone, the latter still in use today.
The original viaduct is well worth a look, and has a wide roadway. The line of the original track can still be made out as it curves to join the current railway track, although it is now only a footpath.