Britains industrious 19th century saw maturing years of steam engines. A revolutionary power capable of breaking almost all previous transport limitations. Competitive railroads soon began spanning lands feeding industry and extending passenger connections nationwide. Adding fuel for this mechanisation made our regional coal fields one of the important resource to attract private rail group investors. Seeking out such profitable cargo routes, they found little resistance now for laying branch lines through towns when further lured into gaining passenger stations.
Powerful amalgamations achieved the formation of a newer Midland Railway on 10th May 1844. Planned rail roads radiating from our central hub at Nottingham began, and on 2nd October 1848 their lines opened for passengers into Kirkby. Having previously purchased the original Mansfield and Pinxton tramway for £21,066 in 1847, modifications converted its future role under heavier steam trains. East from Kirkby the Midland Railway then extended passenger services on into Mansfield by October 1849.
While industrial markets became far better fed, fastest regular passenger services widened all restrictive land travels. Smaller areas eagerly sought links, such at Sutton-in-Ashfield where a junction station was built on the Mansfield lines from Nottingham crossing its southern borders. Shown here aside an existing Adlington Mill at farther end of a Forest Lane, this passenger platform named as Sutton Junction opened 9th October 1849. Seated railway access was thus first gained within our parish borders, although remotely stationed from its nearest populated core and still a good 3 mile walk or cart ride away from Huthwaite.
Serving general requirements in our primary and wealthier parish town center, a second platform was eventually built closer into the population. At costs totalling £52,448 the Midland Railway added a branch line from its existing Sutton Junction. That followed the lengthy extension of Forest Road, later renamed Station Road by this second station shown 1963 sited upon Clarkes Croft, near todays High Pavement.
This Midland Railways Sutton Town Station was ceremoniously opened 1st May 1892, in presence of members to the Local Board whom, invited aboard a supplied saloon formally took that first run. It soon proved a popular branch line by giving short shuttle services to then catch further trains passing through Sutton Junction.
A quick trip aboard carriages behind this engine called Emma cost a penny. So the novelty and affordability of being able to just take this little ride became a treat enjoyed by many. From the days of steam, its this one shuttle train thats still fondly remembered, aptly called Penny Emma
Mansfield press reports from 1897 voiced complaints concerning peak time overcrowding by passengers sharing that single Nottingham line. An additional track was however already progressing as the Great Northern Railway laid separate lines north from Nottingham, through Sutton-in-Ashfield into Shirebrook. Their own Sutton station shown bridging along Outram Street was opened 1st March 1898 for goods. Then 4th April passenger services opened, marked by a Town Hall banquet arranged by Mr AH Bonsor JP. Claiming as honouring attendance was several hundred tradesmen, manufacturers and gentlemen for a significant occasion.
This early photo displays two platform signs on that Great Northern Railway. The top being SUTTON-IN-ASHFIELD below which it reads FOR HUTHWAITE. Our fast emerging individual township thusly invited to share passenger services aboard this competing town railroad within our relational district.
One major change in lifestyles made by steam trains can be demonstrated by simply showing this 1903 leaflet supplied courtesy of Jayne Elliott. Just a day trip for kids to our nearest seaside? Sands on Skegness beach lay nearest at around 80 miles away by road, becoming most popular from our Midlands region for family holidays. Journeys can now be taken casually by train, bus, car, motorcycle even bicycle. But, before harnessing powers of steam, this day return visit could hardly have been even imagined possible.
In comparison, along better prepared staged routes a coach could average 7mph by changing its 4 horse team around every 6 miles. So this coastal journey would have required some 15 stops using 60 horses. Sat inside a small bare carriage offering no time for resting passengers it could possibly have been achieved within 12 hours. If ever tried it may explain why seaside hats display 'kiss me quick'. After such a hectic trip, if finding the tide was out there would be little time left reaching the sea for a quick paddle before jumping back aboard and repeating an exhausting return home same day. Charging just 1d per mile would've been a very reasonable fare. And yet adult returns on that Great Northern Railway were just 2 shillings 9 pennies. In todays coinage less than 14p, while children under 12 years even rode half price. This afforded group day trips, plus a whole family to begin enjoying pleasurable voyages, which then led workers into taking longer invigorating seaside holidays.
Less than three miles distance, those two town lines offered variety of destinations and competitive links encouraged pleasurable use even of four stations for business and leisure. It might have often been worth the walk from Huthwaite. But established village carrier carts continued regular runs after adding a direct connection by electric tram, although no township was fully complete without its own Station Platform.
Written 01 Jan 04 Revised 23 Oct 13 © by Gary Elliott