Review of ‘Rowsley Railway Miscellany - 2’, by Glynn Waite

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

by Glynn Waite
Published by Pynot Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9552251-9-2 (2008)

The men and women who populate this book could hardly have believed that the day would come when Rowsley no longer had a railway. Ex-railwaymen and their families still keep in touch through The Rowsley Association, the society for which Glynn Waite has compiled and edited this second Miscellany from its newsletters.

The activities of the railway were intricately linked to local livelihoods, and the Association archives contain some wonderful, first-hand memories. This new selection begins with A Child's Eye View of 1930s Life at Rowsley, from 'the smell of engine smoke and hooting and clanking of chains', to memories of the 'knocker up' who tapped on bedroom windows with a long pole to wake up any sleepy shift workers. In those days, Rowsley Bar was just a rough track, water came from a well and and outside lavatories emptied into channels running into the Derwent! The Railway workers' houses were lit by gas or oil lamps and the front door was usually opened only for a funeral. Fatalities and injuries amongst railway workers are still spoken of with great sadness.

Job titles included lampman, a 'spare' and the gate woman, whilst Midland drivers apparently frowned on 'keggy handed' firemen. Life revolved around committees, working timetables and other paperwork, but railwaymen and their families had annual outings to the seaside to look forward to - after a myriad forms had been filled in of course. Drink for the trip was sometimes provided by Orme's off-licence in Darley Dale, on a sale or return basis.

The recollections of one contributor relate to problem-solving on the Cromford & High Peak line in the late 1950s, while a map of the mainline route in and out of the Peak shows just how much was lost when Rowsley Shed closed on 3 October 1966.

Review by Julie Bunting

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