Review of ‘Hassop: A Chronology of Railway History’, by Laurence Knighton

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 9th August 2004, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

A Chronology of Railway History

by Laurence Knighton
Published by the Midland Railway Society
ISBN 0-9537486-5-0 (2004)

Hard to imagine now, but the unassuming hamlet of Hassop, near Bakewell, once boasted a busy station on the Derby to Manchester section of the Midland Railway. It was one of three stations for Chatsworth, and Chatsworth Estate built an inn at the station for the convenience of travellers.

That building, now a private house, still stands at the entrance to Country Bookstore, which today occupies the impressive old station buildings. The former railway track is now the Monsal Trail, but a vastly different picture emerges from the abundance of historic old photographs in this engaging new publication by Laurence Knighton.

Earlier this year Laurence co-authored Rowsley - A Rural Railway Centre, revealing that it was the great George Stephenson who surveyed the route for this railway line. Hassop station opened on 1 August 1862 and one of the travellers on that first day was Robert Thornhill of Longstone, whose first class ticket survives.

The author has had access to a wealth of documents detailing the everyday minutiae of railway life. Thus we learn that post horses were available at Hassop station, that tickets were blue one way and pink the other, and that in 1897 Baslow Gas Company invited tenders for the carting of 500 tons of coal from Hassop or Grindleford. Numerous local employees are mentioned by name including an engine driver nicknamed 'Sitting Bull'. On the wider scene, we learn of abandoned proposals for a 13-mile single line Hassop, Hathersage and Castleton railway, a Hassop and Padley line, and the Grindleford, Baslow and Bakewell Railway.

Hassop was an important transfer point for convalescing soldiers in the First World War, and during the Second War was the destination of large consignments of ammunition. Some readers will recall seeing crates of 'ammo' stacked on grass verges in the neighbourhood. And perhaps the word 'soap' will jog memories (and consciences) concerning a certain sticky derailment.

By the middle years of the 2nd World War, trains which used to stop at Hassop no longer did, and this service was finally withdrawn in August 1942.

Review by Julie Bunting

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