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Celebrating the 200th anniversary of England’s oldest continuously running commercial railway

Posted onPosted on 8th Apr

On Saturday, 13th April, the Mansfield & Pinxton Railway, believed to be England’s oldest continuously running commercial railway, is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

Celebrations are being held in Mansfield town centre to mark the occasion for the railway, which also features England’s oldest railway viaduct at the side of King’s Mill Reservoir.

Kirkby & District Archaeological Group, in partnership with the Old Mansfield Society, Sutton Heritage Society, Pinxton & South Normanton History Society and several local railway enthusiasts, obtained a Heritage Fund grant to enable this significant milestone in English history to be celebrated.

The Mansfield & Pinxton Railway was established to connect Mansfield to Cromford Canal at Pinxton, rather than constructing an additional canal. Work commenced on the railway in 1817 and concluded in 1819. Initially it was used to transport heavy goods, such as coal into Mansfield and stone, sand and malt out of the town. As the years went by, passenger travel was introduced.

Today, half of the line is currently incorporated into the Robin Hood Line, which takes passengers from Worksop, Mansfield and other locations to Nottingham many times each day. The rest of the line still runs through Pinxton, carrying freight trains several times each week.

Many of the celebrations, organised for the event, are a repeat of those celebrations that took place 200 years ago when the line was first opened, and include:

10.45am: A walk from the Portland viaduct (now known as the King’s Mill Viaduct) next to King’s Mill Reservoir to Mansfield town centre, loosely following the line of the original track. The walk will include a brief introduction and will be led by the Mansfield District Corps of Drums -a repeat of 200 years ago, where a procession was accompanied by a marching band.

11.45am: Dignitaries congregate at Mansfield Railway Station, include the Mayor of Mansfield, Kate Allsop; Mansfield MP Ben Bradley; Coun Sue Saddington, vice-chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council; Coun Kay Cutts, leader of the county council.

11.45am: A peal of bells from the parish church of St Peter & Paul – another repeat from 200 years ago.

12.15pm: The party will be led by the band into the town centre, passing by a plaque that marks the site of the 1819 warehouse that once acted as the original terminus for the line. A barrow of coal will be taken from the station to the town centre to symbolise the first load of coal that was brought into the town 200 years ago. The original event held a bonfire, using coal from Pinxton collieries, on the market place.

12.15pm: Music starts on a stage in front of the town hall, started by the Huthwaite Prize Band and also including Kick & Rush.

12.30pm: A special buffet for invited guests will be held at the Swan Inn, where an anniversary cake will be cut. The same inn was used 200 years earlier for their celebratory dinner.

2.00pm: A short speech will be delivered by the mayor of Mansfield.

2.10pm: Judging of a Period Dress Competition by invited dignitaries, which will take place in front of the town hall.

2.20pm: Further musical entertainment, including The Saints Ukulele group, Kick & Rush and Selston Folk Group.

3.50pm: End of the event.

There will be a gazebo near the town hall where an exhibition of the railway’s history will be displayed and special memorabilia available to purchase to celebrate the occasion. Hand-held flags will be given out throughout the day.
There is also a competition for the Best Photograph of the event; the closing date being the following Saturday (20th April) with entries to be sent via email to denishill1066@gmail.com. Both competitions have adult and junior sections and carry cash prizes for the first three places.

A spokesman for the organisers said: “This is a truly exciting occasion, to celebrate what is also believed to be England’s first full-length double-track rail to link two towns together – and it’s still running! Come along and join our celebrations, either on the walk or in the town centre, as we celebrate with music and enthusiasm.”

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