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New book traces 200-year history of England’s record-breaking railway

Posted onPosted on 3rd Nov

The Mansfield & Pinxton Railway, which is the oldest continuously-running commercial railway in England, celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.

To help commemorate the achievement a new book has been written and published by a group of dedicated volunteers — The Mansfield & Pinxton Railway Project Group.

They discovered that hardly anyone who travels on the current Robin Hood Line realises that they are, in fact, travelling along part of the oldest commercial line in the country.

The Story of the Mansfield & Pinxton Railway is an A4 hardback book, in colour, and tells the full 200-year history of this important railway.

It highlights a piece of less-known local heritage with national significance, which has helped keep industry running to and from Mansfield since the days of horse-drawn trucks and coaches.

The railway was originally a twin track built of iron rails on stone slabs, and was completed by Easter 1819. The grand opening on Tuesday, 13th April, was celebrated by a huge crowd of people, who accompanied the first load of coal from Pinxton to Mansfield Market Place, where the coal was ceremonially burned in a large bonfire, accompanied by the ringing of church bells.

The cost of building the railway in 1819 was £35,000 but, in 1847, after almost 30 years as a horse-drawn operation, it was sold to the newly-formed Midland Railway for little over half that amount. Steam engines were introduced at that time as the line became part of the MR Nottingham to Mansfield route.

Taken over again in 1923 as part of LMS, it was worked through the 20th Century and the nationalisation of the railways in 1948.

Closed to passenger traffic in 1964 it was then reinstated as part of the newly-opened Robin Hood Line in 1993, making it one of the oldest railways in the UK in continuous use.

The project group also aim to have a video produced before Christmas, which will be uploaded to YouTube. An education pack for junior schools will also be made available.
It had been hoped to hold a launch event for the book and video, but the coronavirus has prevented this.

Instead there will be a virtual launch on YouTube by early December, where a full rundown of the 24-month project will be given.

The whole project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The group thanked all those who play the National Lottery, saying “without them this project would not have been possible”.

The book is on sale for a suggested donation of £5 plus postage and packaging (£3 for one book and £3.50 for two). All proceeds will be split between the four local history groups who joined to make this project happen.

Copies can be requested by emailing [email protected]

A free 40-page self-guiding heritage walk booklet will be included with any book order. This booklet enables people to take a close look at the railway and discover many of its fascinating features.

The heritage of the railway can also be found at or on Facebook: