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.
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.]
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]
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]
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 (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:
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:
During the 1960s (exact date still to find), these double-wire points were then removed:
This is the layout as I recall from the early 1970s, (although the Crown Farm Colly line might have already gone by then?).
The layout above was recorded at the time of my final visit in Apr 1982.
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.
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.]
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.]
… 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.]
… The fireman prepares to take the single-line token from the signalman … [Picture courtesy of Charles Weightman. © Charles Weightman, 1965.]
… 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. 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.
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.
View looking east. Ratcher Hill sand quarry is on the left and the old line to Mansfield Colliery (Crown Farm).
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.
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. [Picture courtesy of Peter Churchman. © P. Churchman, 1981.]
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.
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.
The end of the train.
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 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.
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.
Mansfield Colliery’s up distant with Big Barn Lane bridge in the background.
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 with a brake van in tow arrive at Mansfield Colliery Junction.