The Golden Valley Light Railway, which follows the line of a former ironworks narrow-gauge railway, is a part of the Midland Railway-Butterley (a standard gauge heritage railway), which is located at Butterley in Derbyshire. The GVLR is a 24 inch narrow gauge line, which runs from the main museum site of the MR-B at Swanwick Junction (accessible by rail from Butterley Station) to the terminus of the narrow gauge line - a distance of approximately one mile – at the Newlands Inn stop. Narrow gauge enthusiasts are a breed apart; they are truly dedicated to their particular brand of railway preservation.
The GVLR has a wide range of motive power available; their locomotive ‘stud’ includes everything from steam (an 0-4-2 Inverted Saddle Tank, “Joan” – built 1997), to diesel (Simplex 60S364 ”Campbell’s Brickworks No. 1″ – built 1968) and even battery-powered locomotives (Baguley Drewery 3703 “NG24″ – built 1974), with an unusual German steam engine under restoration (an Orenstein & Koppel 0-4-0 Well Tank – built 1914). Both passenger stock and goods wagons are on site at Swanwick Junction, and a run through the woods past the ‘top reservoir’ which fed the Cromford Canal to the eastern entrance of the Butterley Tunnel and the Newlands Inn at Golden Valley is not to be missed.
Here we can see Simplex 60S364 ”Campbell’s Brickworks No. 1″, hauling a train through the dense woodland from Butterley Park to the Newlands Inn halt. You may notice that ”Campbell’s” has been participating in one of the regular ‘Day Out With Thomas’ events – licenced by HiT Entertainment – which take place on many heritage railways around the UK (and also in the USA, Canada and Australia).
‘The Newlands’ as it was known, used to be the center of activity in the little village of Golden Valley where my mother was born. When I last entered the Inn there were still old framed photographs on the walls, including those of two of my uncles, Uncle Sam, and Uncle Jack! Unfortunately, the Newlands Inn closed in 2007, and was boarded up (the roof was showing signs of significant damage), and at that time the ultimate fate of the building was unknown. Sadly, the Newlands Inn is no more; it was burnt down, in very mysterious circumstances, on 6th August, 2011. Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service conducted a joint enquiry into the fire, but no conclusions were drawn.
One current major restoration of note that the GVLR is undertaking is that of Coach No. 4 (built in 1925, by the Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Co.) of the Ashover Light Railway, which was a narrow gauge line near Clay Cross, Derbyshire, that closed in 1950. Passenger services on this little line, which was originally built to carry minerals produced by the Clay Cross Company of Derbyshire, only ran from 1925 to 1936. The coach was recovered from the side of the bowling green at the Clay Cross Company Sports Club (where it had served to shelter bowls players since 1952) and is now slowly being restored. Donations in aid of this complex and worthwhile restoration project are being sought.