Gauge: 1 metre
The Crich Quarry railway was built in 1841 as a horse drawn line to convey limestone from a quarry at the Derbyshire village of Crich to limekilns built alongside the newly opened North Midland Railway between Derby and Sheffield. The line was built by George Stephenson, who, as well as being the Engineer for the main line, was one of the partners in the Clay Cross Company (named after the Derbyshire town of the same name), who were developing the extensive mining and iron making industry in this area. (The same company was also responsible, much later, for the building of the Ashover Light Railway, which is also featured in our museum)
The line was built to a gauge of 1 metre, one of the earliest examples of a line built to this gauge.
The line continued to be entirely horse drawn until 1893, when the first locomotive, an 0-4-0 saddle tank, was purchased from the local engineering works of Markham and Co. The locomotive was named Dowie, after the family nickname of the company chairman’s daughter in law.
A second locomotive, a De Winton vertical boilered 0-4-0, was purchased second hand in 1899, for use in and around the quarry. Originally nicknamed Coffeepot by the quarrymen, it was later given the official name Tommy, being that of the youngest son of the aforementioned Dowie.
In 1924, another Markham locomotive of almost identical design to Dowie was bought second hand from the Cranford Ironstone Company. It was initially named William, and later renamed Bridget (again after children of the Chairman’s family. Shortly afterwards it received the name Tommy from the De Winton Locomotive, which was scrapped, and the Bridget nameplates were transferred to a locomotive on the Ashover line.
The final steam locomotive was considerably larger than the others, an 0-4-0 Peckett side tank built in 1924, and purchased by the railway from a dealer in 1934. It had to be severely cut down to fit the tunnels and bridges on the railway, and even then the top of the chimney only cleared these by 1 ½ inches. The locomotive arrived bearing the name Hodder.
From 1952, the line progressively converted to diesel power, using 3 48HP Ruston & Hornsby locomotives. The first two were named GMJ (the husband of Dowie) and Ted (the quarry manager). The final one, delivered in 1956, was again named Dowie, after the original steam locomotive on the line.
Quarry operations ceased operation in 1957, and much of the rail was bought by the Talyllyn Railway for relaying its worn out track. Dismantling trains were hauled by Ted.
The railway may have gone, but the site lives on as the home of the National Tramway Museum, whose founders had found out about the site from the Talyllyn members. Even the quarry is back in use, but now using exclusively road haulage.