Rufford Jct

Rufford Junction was situated in Rainworth at the location where the short spur to Rufford Colliery (later extended to Clipstone Colliery) left the Southwell line. In terms of photographs, Rufford Junction is the most elusive box on the branch: the only shot I’ve seen of the box is the one reproduced below. However, thanks to Peter Churchman’s research and conservation of archive signalling diagrams we now have a good account of the box’s history. Once again, many thanks to Peter for providing this material!

The box opened as “Rufford Colliery Sidings” on 21/03/1915, with the work being inspected on 05/10/1915 by Colonel Druitt. Druitt’s official sketch is shown below:

Rufford Colly Sdgs Col Druitt's diagram 21/03/1915.jpg

The box was recorded as having a 32-lever frame, of which 7 were spares. The inspection sketch clearly shows the connection enabling ‘main-to-branch’ running (4) to be new (it’s in red), whilst the east-end connection (28/29) existing.

My other ‘un-numbered’ sketch (ex SRS from inspection file as held at Public Record Office) additionally shows a GF on the Down side midway with 28/29 points. It is therefore my belief that prior to the box opening, a mid-section ground-frame provided access here for contractors to build the line, and this would have been abolished with the opening of the branch (and box). The same thing happened at MCS (see the 1906 sketch)!

The box is also recorded as becoming an intermediate tablet station at this time, but NOT a crossing point. (ie effectively shortening the section between Mansfield Colliery Sidings and Farnsfield, but only useful for following trains in same direction).

A new 3-lever ground-frame was also provided some way down the Rufford branch, controlling the far end of what was later known as the “Rufford Siding”. This was released by a key on the Train Staff.

The Down loop was commissioned on 21/05/1916, together with an additional No.3 siding, resulting in some re-numbering, but still utilising the previous lever frame.

This work wasn’t inspected until 23/08/1917 by Colonel Pringle (official sketch attached) and his report mentions “…existing frame of 32 levers, 2 of which are spare…”.

Rufford Colly Sdgs Col Pringle's diagram 23/08/1917.jpg

The former single line became the Up line, with the new loop forming the Down, enabling trains now to pass here.

What’s not clear is whether the box had to be moved (back) to enable this work? If (as I assume), the loop here had been planned from the outset, the embankment should have been built wide enough for this eventuality, and (presumably also), space for the future loop would have been left between box and the single line.

One has to wonder though, if the loop was always intended, why bother with the interim layout (Word War One expenditure justification maybe?) Note also that the box was coloured red (if rather poorly) on the 1917 inspection sketch, which to me indicates work of some kind. However, unless a photo dated c1916 magically materialises, I suppose we’ll never really know the answer to this one…!

As a final point, note that both the attached ‘official’ sketches (incorrectly?) refer to this box as “Rufford Sidings”!

Moving on…

Gough states that this box was re-named “Rufford Colliery Junction” on 01/01/1929, and then again “Rufford Junction” on 07/04/1929. Whilst this latter name is without doubt, I have to question whether the interim name quoted was ever actually carried by the box.

However, between these dates came perhaps the most significant event here, when, on 17/02/1929, a new lever frame of 60 levers was commissioned. This being to the standard LMS (known as REC) tappet interlocking type, spaced at 4½” centres, with the first five levers being to the “new pattern turn-over” type (as at Mansfield Colliery Sidings).

Whilst I haven’t yet seen the inspection report for this work, this was presumably when the lengthened loop was provided, by the provision of double-wire operated points at the east end, onto the (extended) No.2 siding.

Also when the “Main” and “Loop” lines were made bi-directional, and the “Clipstone Siding” was provided alongside the Branch.

Whilst still to check, the above assumption appears reasonable, as in 12/1928 a new box had just been commissioned down the Branch at Rufford Colliery Sidings in connection with the opening of a new branch serving Clipstone Colliery.

Sadly then, all down-hill from this point, with the attached diagram of c.1965 depicting the facilities here at their max potential

Rufford Junction in c.1965 showing 1929 revised layout

With all through traffic beyond Blidworth Junction ceasing from Dec 1965, rationalisation here was inevitable.

Some time around 1967, the double-wire points at the east end were changed to local ground-frame operation, the new ground-frame being released by the key token for the Rufford to Blidworth section. This layout is shown below:

Rufford Junction c.1967 showing final layout

This must have been a very short-lived arrangement as Gough records the line from Blidworth as being “out of use” from 24/06/1967, with Rufford Jct box finally closing on 16/06/1968.

Peter Churchman

[References to ‘Gough’ are to The Midland Railway: a Chronology by John Gough, first published in 1989 by the Railway and Canal Historical Society.]

The Collier railtour, sometime in the 1960s

Thanks to Kevin Mulhall for finding this picture. It’s the only one I’ve seen showing Rufford Junction (Midland) box. You can see it, looking a little worse for subsidence on the left. The Rufford Branch curves in front of the trees on the right (that’s where the picture of the class 44 was taken.) The DMU is on an enthusiasts’ railtour probably on Saturday 16th March 1968. Regular passenger services had stopped in the 1920s although passenger trains to Southwell Races continued in the 60s.

Class 20s from Rufford Colliery Distant

A view from the gantry which supported Rufford Junction’s No 40 home signal and Rufford Colliery’s fixed distant (this signal is visible in the picture of the class 44, below). The two loops which started at Rufford Jct and ended at Rufford Colliery are visible on each side of the main running line.

Class 44, Rufford Junction (MR).jpg

A class 44 grinds around the very tight curve at the old junction between the Southwell line and the branch to Rufford Colliery. The engine was slipping badly on the wet rails and the guard had to leave his brakevan and sand the rails in front of the train. It continued at about five mph towards Mansfield. The fixed distant on the right is for Rufford Colliery Sidings

Rufford Junction signals

The only other picture I’ve seen showing the Junction signals. This is looking across what was Greenies Field (now Parkstone Avenue). You can see the down loop starter no 14 and the no 10 signal for traffic coming off the Rufford branch or from the sidings. Standing in the loop are some 16 ton coal wagons. Visible over the top of the wagons is junction signal with its route-indicator. (This a composite of two pictures supplied by Kevin Mulhall).

Class 20s near Helmsley Rd Bridge

This picture was taken just west of where 10 and 14 would have been.

Rufford Junction signal diagram

Thanks to Johnny Mulhall for this. It’s a version of Peter Churchman’s 1965 diagram with some of the local geography added to provide extra context.

View from Helmsley Road Bridge towards the site of Rufford Junction.

This is the view from Helmsley Road Bridge looking towards the site of Rufford Junction. The headshunt from the Junction used to continue almost up the bridge (on the left in this view). If anyone has any pictures of Rufford Junction I’d love to see them.

View from Helmsley Road Bridge towards the site of Rufford Junction (2).

Same view close to the end of the branch’s life. Not much has changed from the previous picture. Same buildings. Same class 20s. Same bullhead rail.

Class 20 from cutting, Helmsley Road

In the cutting on the other side of the bridge.


One Response to “Rufford Jct”

  1. Peter Soar on February 24th, 2010 10:06 pm

    I used to live on Helmsley Rd (left Rainworth March 1968), and remember coming home from school (Heathlands, on Southwell Rd), running up to the bridge, to wave to the crew of what was usually a rather grubby WD 2-8-0, pulling a train of 16 ton mineral wagons. There was also the occasional train of oil tankers (were these from Eakring?). I can well remember the box at the back of the White City (Rufford Junction), but sadly have no photo’s of any rail activity in the area.