Volunteers needed for dig to uncover remains of Mansfield and Pinxton Railway

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Volunteers are needed for an archaeological dig to try and uncover remains of the 200-year-old Mansfield and Pinxton Railway.

The train line, which forms part of the Robin Hood Line today, is the oldest continuously running commercial railway in England.

The excavation, which will last several days later this month, is to take place at Portland Park in Kirkby. And the organisers are keen to hear from anyone who might like to be part of it.

Denis Hill, president of the Kirkby and District Archaeological Group, said: “This excavation at Portland Park is very exciting.

“Although much has been written about the early rail systems, very little is ever mentioned about the construction of the track beds.

“We feel this project might add significantly to the story of early railways and, consequently, be of national significance.”

The Kirkby group will be joined by the Trent and Peak Archaeology organisation for the dig, which is scheduled for between Monday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 23.

Laura Parker, of Trent and Peak, said: “This will enable people of all backgrounds, aged 16-plus, to get involved in an archaeological investigation, including those who have never done anything like this before.

“We hope they will uncover new information about the location of the sidings and the construction of the railway line itself.

“There will also be an opportunity for children under 16 and their parents to get involved with hour-long bookable slots on Sunday, October 20.

“Schools are also invited to book in a visit to the site during the ten days of excavations.”

When the railway was opened on April 13, 1819, the first trucks were pulled by horses. Initially, it was used to transport heavy goods, such as coal, into Mansfield, but passenger travel was eventually introduced.

The line was bought by the Midland Railway Company, upgraded and extended into Nottingham between 1847 and 1849.

Steam locomotives were introduced and continued to transport goods and passengers until they weere superseded by diesel power.

During the mid-1960s, the passenger services were controversially withdrawn. However, they were reinstated when the Robin Hood Line was opened in 1993.

Bookings for the archaeological dig can be made by e-mailing Laura Parker at tpa.volunteering@yorkat.co.uk or by calling 0115 8967408 or 07767 238756.