Mansfield Colliery Jct

29/06/2011 thanks to Jerry Pinner for providing some interesting insights into operations at Mansfield Colliery Junction in the steam-diesel transition:

During the transition from steam to diesel it was commonplace for 9Fs to pilot a Brush Type4 ( Class 47 ), so that must have been tight round the curves! When the Sulzer type 2s arrived, in early 65, they usually worked in pairs. On the Saturday before a bank holiday, the last working to the collieries would be as many as five locos coupled, which would separate at Colliery Junction, and wait until early morning to pick up their trains – quite a sight! The line would then be worked intensively all day Sunday , leaving Monday free for rest. The two Crosti 9Fs, 92020 and 92026 arrived at the end of 63, and had gone again a year later. A batch of WD 2-8-0s worked the branch briefly in 64. The first diesel working was by Peak D106 which ran a test train, with dynamometer car, over a number of days in late 64. Over the Christmas holiday 62-63, the Big Freeze, I remember that the first working of the day was 4F 0-6-0s 44250 and 44444 coupled tender to tender with a snowplough attached to each loco in order to clear the line; the latter loco carried the chalked legend “The Crown Farm Flyer” on the smoke box for some time !!.

Some very interesting photos contributed by Jerry’s brother Mike (which, to my shame, I’ve been sitting on for over a year!). And an evocative picture from Keith Morris taken on a lovely sunny day in 1982. (Which Keith kindly sent me in 2009. Ouch!)

I’m making a start on working through my backlog of emails. Apologies to everyone I’ve not replied to … things are going to change.

The driver of a class 20 collects the token for the section to Mansfield South Junction

1982. The driver of a pair of class 20s collects the token for the section to Mansfield South Junction. [Picture courtesy of Mike Pinner. © Mike Pinner, 1982.]

Black Five on a miners' outing

Around twenty years earlier; a very rare picture of a passenger train on the branch. A Black Five 4-6-0 on a miners’ special (complete with headboard!) has a full head of steam as it pulls away towards Mansfield. [Photo sometime between 1961 and 1964 courtesy of Mike Pinner. © Mike Pinner]

Stanier 8F 48096 and another unidentifed member of the class pull out of Mansfield Colliery Jct

Back to a more typical scene. A Fowler 4F 0-6-0 and a Stanier 8F wait for the road at Mansfield Colliery Jct. [Photo sometime between 1961 and 1964 courtesy of Mike Pinner. © Mike Pinner]

8F 48096 and another unidentifed class-member pull out of Mansfield Colliery Jct

Stanier 8F 48096 and another unidentifed member of the class pull out of Mansfield Colliery Jct with a coal train from Mansfield Colliery. [Photo sometime between 1961 and 1964 courtesy of Mike Pinner. © Mike Pinner]

Mansfield Colliery Junction box in 1975

Mansfield Colliery Junction box (looking east) in 1975. [Picture courtesy of Peter Churchman. © P. Churchman, 1975.]

Peter Churchman has kindly provided the following account of the box’s history along with the layout diagrams:

The box here opened 28 Jan 1906 as Mansfield Colliery Sidings, replacing the ground frame provided previously.

The works were inspected by HMRI on 9 Mar 1906, the box was recorded as having a 24 lever frame, 8 being spares:

Mansfield Colly Sdgs 1906 layout

Tablet working was introduced between here and the (also new) Mansfield East Junction. However working to Farnsfield East at this time retained the Train Staff method, which had previously been in force from Mansfield North Junction.

Train Staff working was also utilised on the Crown Farm Colliery branch.

By the mid 1920s the North Notts coalfield was progressively developing eastwards with new deep mines planned at Blidworth, Rufford, Ollerton and Bilsthorpe.

To cater for the output from these it was decided to upgrade this lightly used route to provide an additional route south and east for this rapidly increasing coal traffic.

To this end the poorly-used passenger service was abandoned between Mansfield and Southwell, and longer passing loops were provided at Mansfield Colliery Sidings, Rufford Colliery Sidings and Farnsfield. This being achieved by utilising the ‘double-wire’ method of point operation as used elsewhere at the time in Europe (particularly in Germany and Holland), which enabled point operation beyond the 350yd limit normally imposed for rod-operation.

Additional passing loops (and signal boxes) were provided at Blidworth Junction and Kirklington, with the line also being doubled between Southwell and Rolleston Junction, and a new westward spur to Fiskerton Junction was built, also allowing through traffic towards Nottingham.

Part of a planned new joint LMSR/LNER through route between Nottingham and Doncaster also came to fruition at this time in the form of the ‘Mid Notts Joint’ line built from Farnsfield to just beyond Ollerton, with a further new signal box at Bilsthorpe.

A layout dated 8 Oct 1948 depicts the layout with the double-wire operated points:

Mansfield Colly Jct 1948 layout

During the 1960s (exact date still to find), these double-wire points were then removed:

Mansfield Colly Jct 1960s layout

This is the layout as I recall from the early 1970s, (although the Crown Farm Colly line might have already gone by then?).

Mansfield Colly Jct 1970s and 80s layout

The layout above was recorded at the time of my final visit in Apr 1982.

Peter Churchman

Providing a fascinating complement to Peter’s account of the box’s history is this sequence of photos taken by Charles Weightman, showing the box around 1965 when the branch to Crown Farm was still active, and when diesels were replacing steam.

Mansfield Colly Jct -Dn Homes

No 16 is off for a train of empties heading up the branch. The line to Crown Farm is still open so the left-hand doll still has its signal arm. [Picture courtesy of Charles Weightman. © Charles Weightman, 1965.]

Mansfield Colly Jct -Up arrival.

Out with the old! A Brush Type 4 diesel, No D1812 passes the box with the empties while an 8F waits in no 1 siding for the road to clear … [Picture courtesy of Charles Weightman. © Charles Weightman, 1965.]

Mansfield Colly Jct -view-east

… The empties clear, the road set, the 8F moves forwards. The flat-bottomed rail on the right looks like it’s been laid recently … [Picture courtesy of Charles Weightman. © Charles Weightman, 1965.]

Mansfield Colly Jct -Dn departure

… The fireman prepares to take the single-line token from the signalman … [Picture courtesy of Charles Weightman. © Charles Weightman, 1965.]

Mansfield Colly Jct -Dn departure

… The 8F gets away, wreathing the junction signal in steam. [Picture courtesy of Charles Weightman. © Charles Weightman, 1965.]

The rear of Mansfield Colliery Junction box in 1975.

The rear of Mansfield Colliery Junction box in 1975. Ratcher Hill quarry is in the background. [Picture courtesy of Peter Churchman. © P. Churchman, 1975.]

Mansfield Colliery Junction box on a wet day. Taken sometime in the early 1980s

Mansfield Colliery Junction box on a wet day. Taken sometime in the early 1980s.

View looking towards Mansfield showing the exit from the sidings.

View looking towards Mansfield showing the exit from the sidings.

Close up of one of the Midland Railway lower-quadrant shunt signals controlling the exits from the sidings.

Close up of one of the Midland Railway lower-quadrant shunt signals controlling the exits from the sidings.

View looking east. Ratcher Hill sand quarry is on the left and the old line to Mansfield Colliery.

View looking east. Ratcher Hill sand quarry is on the left and the old line to Mansfield Colliery (Crown Farm).

Mansfield Colliery Jct inner home signal.

Mansfield Colliery Junction inner home signal, Mansfield direction. The right-hand doll is for the headshunt. The disc signals protecting the sidings are Midland Railway lower quadrants.

Mansfield Colliery Jct box interior.

Interior of Mansfield Colliery Junction box showing the lever frame. [Picture courtesy of Peter Churchman. © P. Churchman, 1981.]

Tyer’s electric key-token instrument, Mansfield Colliery Jct box.

Tyer’s electric key-token instrument, Mansfield Colliery Jct box. [Picture courtesy of Peter Churchman. © P. Churchman, 1981.]

Mansfield Colliery Junction distant

Mansfield Colliery Junction down distant signal, Mansfield direction. A fogman’s (?) hut lurks in the undergrowth on the left. Beyond the signal is an access bridge leading onto Southwell Road.

View from Helmsley Road Bridge of train heading towards Mansfield).

Taken from Helmsley Road bridge, the same signal shown above can be seen in the distance as a loaded train disappears towards Mansfield. Unusually the brake van is coupled to the front of the train immediately behind the engines.

Rear of train, Helmsley Road Bridge

The end of the train.

Helmsley Road Bridge

A blurred photo of Helmsley Road bridge taken from the windows of a Rufford-bound train. The bridge was replaced late in the branch’s life after it had been weakened by subsidence and by the movements of oversized earth-movers used in the mining industry. These would occasionally cross the bridge, usually getting stuck and taking large chunks out of the brickwork on each occasion.

Ratcher Hill Quarry Overbridge

Ratcher Hill Quarry Overbridge with Mansfield Colliery Junction’s down outer home and up advanced starter on the same post. The scaffolding and infilling on the bridge counteract the effects of mining subsidence.

Oaktree Lane Overbridge

Another three-arch bridge, this time in better condition. This was Oaktree Lane bridge in 1981. What used to be the junction signal for the Mansfield Colliery branch is just visible through the arch. The empty left-hand post used to hold the arm for the branch. The central shunt arm is for the sidings.

Big Barn Lane Overbridge

Mansfield Colliery’s up distant with Big Barn Lane bridge in the background.

Little Barn Lane Overbridge

Little Barn Lane bridge. This was the typical pattern of overbridge on the Southwell Branch. Helmsley Road bridge was identical to this before it was rebuilt in the 1970s.

Class 20s Mansfield Colliery Junction

Class 20s with a brake van in tow arrive at Mansfield Colliery Junction.


14 Responses to “Mansfield Colliery Jct”

  1. Kevin Mulhall on November 26th, 2008 10:22 am

    Clyde from Mansfield to Rainworth and Southwell its up,so the distant at Big Barn Lane is the up distant and the down distant was at the end of Ransom Road.
    wagons seen on the line was MCO,MCV.MXV,MDO.MDV,MEO,HTO,HTV,HEO,also I had seen PSO corby and years ago central wagon lans steel,also 1 trip from Rufford to Westbury was a load of HEA with a class 56 wtt was 6T11.(this line was note cleared for 46t glw ok something to do with the bridge near Mansfield town fc forgot the name of the road now.

  2. Clyde on November 26th, 2008 11:55 am

    Was wondering about ‘up’ and ‘down’ in relation to the line. According to this Wikipedia link ‘up’ is towards London or the ‘major destination’. In the case of the Rufford Branch you could have got to London (eventually!) either via Mansfield or Southwell, so honours even there. As to the ‘major destination’ — was this Mansfield or Southwell or even Newark?

  3. Peter Churchman on December 20th, 2008 8:46 pm

    As a ‘local lad’ it’s great to see a website dedicated to a line now just a memory.

    As a teenager I spent a good deal of my spare time (unofficially) working the various remaining signal boxes in this area – including those along this route.

    My biggest regret is that I ought to have taken rather more photos than I did at the time, as all of a sudden it I found it had all gone!

    As well as photos, I have a fair bit of other historic information about the various SBs along the route, including signalling layouts of all the boxes, in most cases from opening until closure.

    Several of my photos from the ’70s are already posted on John Tillys website ‘’,
    and I would be happy for you to post any of them here also if you wish, provided I am credited if you do!

    I have a few more local shots (when I get around to scanning them) taken ’70s and early ’80s, from visits to the SBs.

    Peter Churchman

  4. Charles Weightman on December 25th, 2008 12:43 pm

    Excellent site. In 1964 I became a Signal Engineering Student on the LM at Nottingham and the first place I ever worked was Sutton Junction. The south box had been closed and we renewed the rodding on the Ground Frame – tying the rodding to the outside of a passenger train from Nottingham! On October 10th, that year I travelled on the last day of passenger services, through to Worksop – and then in later part of my career planned the signalling works at Shirebrook, just before the line reopened to passenger services (Also the works on the LDEC line to Thoresby). During those early days I visited the SBs at Kirkby Station Junction, Kirkby Sidings (New Box?), Sutton Junction North, Sutton Forest Crossing, Mansfield South and North Junctions (but not East Junction). Mansfield Station South (Station North had closed). Also Sherwood South and North SBs, I believe that Mansfield Woodhouse had closed and Pleasley Jn certainly was closed. Later, in the Nottingham S&T Drawing Office I did the signalling plan and all the required drawings for the new line and new SB at Kirkby Summit (not the newer Robin Hood SB). Sadly I was not serious about photography at the start!

    Back to the Southwell Line. In 1965 my Supervisor took me to visit Blidworth, Rufford Junction and Mansfield Colliery Junction SBs. I recall them all as busy, they all had REC tappet (I think)back frames, which puts them in the 1930s Certainly Rufford Jn an (I think) Mansfield Colliery Jns had supplementary ‘throwover’ frames operating double wire worked points (more than 350y from the SB).

    Later in 1965, I took a gang and we went to Farnsfield, Bilsthorpe, Kirkington and Southwell SBs to recover the Key Token Instruments. They were Tyers Key Token Instruments for the main line and (now very rare – but one still at Matlock) Railway Signal Co instruments for the Mid Notts Joint.

    It was at Farnsfield that I saw my first LNE type economical FPL (the last went at Lincoln last September – there are no MR ones in main line service). The good news is that on this second visit I had a camera. Peter Churchman (above) has digital copies of my photos for this section and I have given him permission to send them all to you (Sadly, I cannot find my photos of Bilsthorpe). The photos also include Upton Crossing, Fiskerton West Jn and Rolleston Jn.

    After 1982 (upon becoming Area Signal Engineer at Sheffield) I became much more serious about photography and holding many front line Signal Engineering jobs, I have now visited all but about 40 of our remaining 704 signalboxes, so have a huge collection, but only digital since 2001 !

    I have found very little about the Mid Notts Joint? I have been given to believe that line was authorised from Retford (Grove Road) on the ECML to Bestwood Park Junction on the MR to effectively put Nottingham on the ECML ! It was a government loan job to ease unemployment during the ‘credit crunch’ of the 1930s. It was built as a single line (double line earthworks) only from Farnsfield to a field just north of Ollerton and then the scheme was dropped. In the mi 1950s, the proposed southern end became the eastern alignment of the Calverton Colliery Branch and in the 1960s, it was extended at the north end to become the Bevercotes Colliery Branch, so in the end all but 19 miles was built. Further information woul be of interest.

    Charles Weightman,
    National Signalling Principles Engineer,
    Network Rail,
    North Duffield,
    North Yorkshire 25-12-2008.

  5. Clyde on January 1st, 2009 10:24 pm

    Some of Charles’s pictures taken in 1965 have now been added to the page.

  6. Stevie Zerachy on January 17th, 2010 4:46 pm

    Hi great website and good to see one of the old brances I used to work over from Toton depot
    0510 toton clipstone engine and brake or
    0520 toton rufford engine and brake although this used to swap sometimes.

    regard to the brake van next to the 2×20′s picture this would becase the brakevan was only through piped (ppipe painted white) so in a vacuum braked htv train which this is the brake cannot be on the rear so the guard travels next to the locos hope this clarifies this.
    Any other info email me and i will see what i can remember i was working over the branch from 1974-1976

  7. Stevie Zerachy on January 17th, 2010 5:00 pm

    update to the above its likely these wagons were for Westbury as this ran usually as a block train even prior to airbraking and the hea’s being introduced
    also another wagon type was Huo which on the older wagons had the old lner ratchet system brake but set very high and were hard to use.
    one of the services ran to codnor park sidings run round and then to avenue exchange sidings
    I am trying to recall the shunters names from the cabin at colly jcn but memory fails me at present
    more unusual working i can remember were coming from toton with 1×20 and 1×25 coupled in place of the peak or 2×20′s and also seeing a class 25 on the eastern side at rufford colly siding trying to drag a loaded train up towards the box and failing badly. it was most unusual to see a class 25 (sulzer2) on the eastern side.
    also the odd arrangement at clipstone to push your empties into the sidings after running round as there would also be 2×08′s (jocko’s) coupled together on the eastern side also waiting to do the same, these workings had come from mansfield con sidings if i remember right.

  8. First steam pics on Rufford Branch! : Rufford Branch on December 20th, 2010 9:17 am

    [...] Mansfield Colliery Jct [...]

  9. Photographs by Peter Churchman, Adrian Stretton and Charles Weightman : Rufford Branch on December 20th, 2010 9:18 am

    [...] Mansfield Colliery Jct [...]

  10. Kevin P Mulhall on January 3rd, 2011 5:09 pm

    Hi Clyde, re the message from Stevie Zerachy about the following,1 Westbury traffic was all HTV if he looks at the photo he will see a MXV/MCV behind the brake then all HTV.2 re Clipstone GC the 2+08″s was working T23.3 I have seen on the Midland working from Clipstone 2+25.4 first train of the day 1979 when I was lampman at Rufford was a trip to Clipstone load to Mansfield Colliery Mid,then EBV Clipstone,note this was not always the case,as for traffic working out from Rufford per day most of the time it was 2 trips 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.5 Re empty wagons is was 100% Eastern Region in to Clipstone,and 99% Eastern Region in to Rufford,the only time I ever seen Midland men bring emptys to Rufford was if it was traffic that was going to go out via the Midland to Toton

  11. Alex fisher on January 23rd, 2011 4:10 pm


    An excellent site,

    Question is, why after closure of Rufford colliery sidings did Mansfield junction remain open? why not, close that as well and make the machines No signaller token machines? or even remove one of the machines and make the section from Mansfield South to rufford?

  12. Kevin P Mulhall on February 12th, 2011 11:08 am

    Hi Alex I would say the reason why Mansfield colliery juction was left open is for 2 reason 1 remember I told you that traffic from Clipstone and Rufford was left at Mansfield cj and 2 just over half way from Mansfield cj to Mansfield South junction was a GF at Windsor Road for Mansfield Std Sand,key for this was kept at Mansfield South junction

  13. Andrew Higginson on March 5th, 2011 10:01 am

    Hi Alex. How’s it going in the new box?

    I think the cost of taking Mandfield Colliery Sidings out and altering things at South Junction probably helped prevent closure. However, the sidings remained in use for wagon storage until very late. I think one of the Shunters was a chap called Carol who went on to be lampman around Mansfield.

    You could also run round at Colliery (after a fashion). If memory serves correctly this wasn’t easily achieved at Rufford, or Clipstone in the final years. I remember a lot of the engine and brake working used to propel the van all the way from Toton.

    I was part of the team from the MRC who recovered the last of the signalling equipment from Mansfield Colliery. A sad buisness. We’d also recovered much of the equipment from Rufford Colliery box some years earlier.

    I do believe that the last regular Signalman at MAnsfield Colliery box was a chap called Jack Stevenson. I never met him but he was well liked by everyone locally. The last time I was there before it shut Jeff Slater, one of the relief men (and a proper old hand signalman of the first and fierce order) was on duty. JEff had come off the Erewash valley in ’68 when Trent took over. I’ve a feeling he’d been at Pye Bridge and quite possibly Westhouses and Blackwell. It mnay even have been him who was on duty when Flash Fletcher landed in a big heap outside the box, having arrived rather too quickly (through no fault of his own I hasten to add!) from the direction of Tibshelf!

    Anyway, I digress. THere is some fascinating information on this site about a very little noticed piece of railway.

    One final snippet. One of my Grandads best friends was a Mansfield Fireman between the early 1920′s and 1930, when he was made redundant at the start of the depression. He had many stories and several of the concerned this line. Just before he was finished they had a regular job on nights collecting spoil being dug out from the construction of the Welbeck Coliiery branch (midland side) and working round onto the Mid-Notts joint line which was also being built. They were heavy trains and it was well and truly up hill from Mansfield East to Crown Farm. Once off the curve at East they used to shove the regulator in the roof and go for it. A good fire was needed to supply the steam for this charge. They were using Midland No.3 tender locos. One night they had a particularly spirited run, they weather wasn’t great and fog was starting to become a problem in the Maun valley but it didn’t affect them going and they stormed up to Mansfield Colliery box. On the way back the fog had really come down and beyond Masfield Colliery box they were ‘feeling their way’ back towards East Junction. They were only going a t walking pace when they passed Mansfield Coliieries Up Distant. The Fogman there shouted up to ask if they knew who had worked the spoil train that night. Smelling a rat they said they’d no idea but asked why he wanted to know. He replied that the mad b*ggers had been going so hard they were raining live coal all over and had set fire to his fogging hut and he was npow having to stand in the freezing cold all night! Fortunately they were too far away by this time for further discussion!

  14. jerry pinner on March 15th, 2011 9:51 am

    Great to see this ! I lived in one of the new Wimpy houses next to Oak Tree lane Bridge from 1961 – 65 . Lots of steam era memories – 8Fs , 4Fs , and then in late 63 9F 2-10-0s , including a pair of Crosti boilered examples . August bank holidays would bring Black 5s on special miner’s excursions . I believe my brother has forwarded photos , but the aren’t up on the site yet . Contact me if you would like to see the ones that I have .