Exhibition to celebrate 200th year of Mansfield and Pinxton Railway

A painting of one of the first horse-drawn coaches to be used on the railway.
A painting of one of the first horse-drawn coaches to be used on the railway.

The 200th anniversary of the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway, the oldest, continuously running commercial train line in England, is being celebrated.

Some experts even believe the line, which was opened as a horse-drawn carriageway on April 13, 1819, is the sixth oldest in the world.

A sketch of the type of steam loco likely to have been used on the railway in 1848.

A sketch of the type of steam loco likely to have been used on the railway in 1848.

To mark the anniversary, an exhibition, featuring an array of memorabilia, is being staged in the local studies section at Kirkby Library.

The exhibition, and other celebrations, have been organised by the Kirkby and District Archaeological Group, in partnership with local railway enthusiasts and three other organisations, Old Mansfield Society, Sutton Heritage Society and Pinxton and South Normanton History Society.

Denis Hill, president of the Kirkby group, said: “We obtained a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to mark this significant milestone in English history.

“Half of the railway is currently incorporated within the Robin Hood Line, while the stretch to Pinxton still carries several trains each day, including freight trains.

A modern-day train on the Robin Hood Line part of the railway.

A modern-day train on the Robin Hood Line part of the railway.

“The exhibition is open until the middle of August, so please go along and learn about a piece of your local history that has national significance.”

The railway was born from a need to connect Mansfield to the growing network of canals and to transport heavy goods, such as coal, stone, sand and malt. Horses were used to pull the wagons and carriages.

As the years went by, passenger travel was introduced and, in 1848, a branch line was constructed to Nottingham which enabled the first steam locomotives to come into the Ashfield and Mansfield area.

Passenger services were withdrawn in 1965, but re-emerged with the opening of the Robin Hood Line in the 1990s.