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Darley Dale Footbridge

A long awaited update on the situation regarding the original Darley Dale Station Footbridge.

This 1911 built curved lattice with four staircases has been gently rusting behind the locomotive shed at Rowsley since 2010. What few flakes of grey paint  remained have vanished and the lattice has become a trellis.

Some loose sections of rotted steelwork which were dropping to bits when it arrived has disintegrated, but due to level and well drained ground, the main structure and stair flights have come to no serious harm during storage. Not much improved by the experience either.

To recap, in case you missed it!

By 2010 we had been successful ‘bidders’ in an on line sale of the upper section of the bridge from the Midland Railway Centre, where it had stood for many years. This remarkable survivor has been taken in the mid 1970s and moved into storage for the MRC. At some point the columns and spandrels  were stolen , which is why it was never erected. We had taken delivery of the staircases , and then the news had broken that the bridge wasn’t ours at all.

The owners Derby Museums and Art Gallery had been informed of the ‘sale’, and were keen to safeguard the structure. A long term loan was agreed between Derby Museums and Art Gallery and DWVRT, which would allow us to look at funding options and clarified our intentions to rebuild it at Darley Dale. Quotes were obtained for the work and the Association Raffle was held in aid of the bridge. This was crucial as it paid for the transport of some sections, the engineers survey, drawings, and weight calculations , and it gave us a small but useful fighting fund. Without the raffle  the project would have been unable to gain a foothold . But we only had half a bridge, parts of which were worn out , and was only on loan.

The project slowed, chiefly due to the general shortage of money. Other projects that were smaller and cheaper took priority, and some funding options were ruled out to prevent compromising other future projects.  The account graduallt built up with irregular donations. The original contractors found themselves no longer in a position to to undertake the work on the arch, so pressure to do the work and pay for it was off. But the fund did build up, thanks to support from the Chesterfield  and Derby branches, and with a couple of sizeable donations . Cue entry of a new, experienced and enthusiastic contractor and the decision was taken to invest what funds we had into getting started. With costs rising every year we needed to.

And start we have. An updated quote for the missing columns and spandrel brackets , the entire support units, was received. This was double the original quote. But the specification and production method were superior, and the old quote was no longer valid. These are cast, not fabricated, in the highest appropriate grade of iron, and have an elegant taper as the lost original did.

The order was placed in September 2015 for the patterns, at a cost of £10,500. This was on the condition that the instruction to proceed with the castings was to be received by the following January, and so it was. The columns were produced on an ‘as and when’ basis by a foundry only a few miles from where it was originally made and were finally complete by August 2016. The accompanying picture shows the first half of the set when assembled at the foundry. A further £32,000 for the castings was spent in stages up to the end of September.

We have submitted a small number of grant applications, and to date have been successful on one. This is specifically to fund the production of four missing cast iron finials for the landings. The delivery of these will give us a complete bridge ‘kit’ again. The ex-Bamford Signal Box has been removed from the site of the bridge at Darley Dale, which was a physical obstacle.

The production of the columns was both a financial and physcological problem. What remains is to press the ‘go’ button on a planned and comprehensive contract job to deliver the rest of the project. In February 2016,

The successors to Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby Museums Trust, kindly donated their sections to DWVRT.

And that’s where we are now. Top half of the bridge(now ours) in need of a rebuild, bottom half of a bridge (ours again) remade from drawings and carefully stashed away awaiting instructions.

I have a great deal of respect for volunteers toiling for years to restore an item of derelict rolling stock  or a building(I,m one of them), but the footbridge does not  lend itself to this pattern of work.  This is deceptively complex structure which, whilst over engineered, needs to be rebuilt from start to finish to a high standard to be safe for use. This means when the money is raised, the whole lot will be packed off to the West Midlands and return 3 months later ready to put up. The cost even includes erecting the whole bridge in their warehouse as a dummy run! Some volunteer input is required to remove some of the platework and a few rivets. This will save the contractors time(and our money) in the dismantling phase.

The Derwent and Wye Valley Railway Trust will continue to promote this project as a flagship for Peak Rail. It is a unique story of a redundant railway structre not only surviving being dismantled for use elsewhere, but then actually coming back to where it started, in an altogether more favourable climate when it is once again needed.  It will hugely enhance Darley Dale Station in appearance and improve the experience of staff and passengers there. But above all that is the step up in project size being undertaken at Peak Rail.

With the completion of the bridge we join the ranks of railways with experience of delivering medium sized projects, and opens up the path for future infrastructure works,both within and outside of the Trust. Timing is crucial; with the completion of the Up and Down platforms and the columns sat waiting, the bridge is the next natural step, and the contractors are hoping to get started soon. If not, the columns will simply be stored for a while, but may need to be moved to Rowsley to free up space. More cost, more time.

The trust needs another £50,000 to complete the footbridge. Further grant applications are in progress for submission in 2017, but it’s a dog eat Trust world out there. And even with the maximum funding potentially available to us we still need to raise some £15,000 - £20,000 in house. There are always demands for funding on any preserved railway, and projects such as this are rarely paid for from revenue. I suppose it comes down to what you want to see on our railway. Any contributions will be gratefully received, and don’t forget donations to DWVRT qualify for gift aid. There will be collection boxes at the railway, displays at Rowsley and Darley Dale stations, and you can donate through the DWVRT Website.

If you really want to have this, it’s not so far out of reach, A little from a lot of us, would put the bridge back. And then what would you want to see restored next?

Ben Riley

February 2017.

If every Member gave £10. this would raise £16,500 for the Bridge. Donations by cheque or postal order can be sent to:- The Derwent and Wye Valley Railway Trust, Matlock Station, Matlock,

Derbyshire DE4 3NA or online at   and click on the button ‘donate’

We hope you will feel able to help raise the funds to enable the Trust to complete this unique project.


Lottery grant success invites memories of Matlock and Rowsley heritage line – Tracking our Heritage

DWVRT has secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for a new project to piece together an oral history of the former mainline railway between Matlock, Darley Dale and Rowsley.

Launching “Tracking our Heritage” on Monday 16th April 2018, President of Peak Rail, Pete Waterman, unveiled the full details of the project at a press briefing at Darley Dale station.

He commented, “It’s important we don’t lose our history. The spoken word is one of the best ways to record events. People’s memories are fantastic and you find out stuff they would have never written down.”

The Derwent & Wye Valley Railway Trust project has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and it will allow dedicated research to explore and record the oral histories of:

former employees of the railway

people who used the railway for all sorts of purposes

volunteers that have worked on Peak Rail since it was developed as a heritage line over 40 years ago

Financial support has also been given by the Peak Railway Association, Darley Dale Town Council, Matlock Town Council, private individuals and DWVRT itself.

The project has been made possible through money raised by National Lottery players.

‘Tracking Our Heritage’ will train volunteers in how to conduct interviews, research historical documents, and record information. Interviews and researched work will be used to produce an exhibition and booklet, and a digital archive.

‘Tracking Our Heritage’ wants to engage the local communities of Matlock, Darley Dale and Rowsley in uncovering local heritage based around the section of the former mainline railway, by working with people of many ages so they can enjoy learning together through intergenerational events. Young people, schools, and volunteers will produce a 'timeline' history of the heritage railway operation and the former mainline railway using a variety of media. The project will hold 'show and tell' events where people can bring along memorabilia, share stories and exchange memories, which will all be recorded to be included in the project.

People are being encouraged to share their memories at two free ‘show and tell’ events which are being held:

11am-3pm, April 28th at Darley Dale Station Museum

11am-3pm, June 9th at Matlock Town Council offices.

If you have memories of the railway you can share with us either come along to one of the drop in sessions or get in touch at