A Trip Down the Line

When the Midland Railway opened the line it built six stations between Nottingham and Melton Mowbray. From the north these were Edwalton, Plumtree, Widmerpool, Upper Broughton, Old Dalby and Grimston (formerly Saxelby, the name was changed after only 3 months to avoid confusion with Saxby, a few miles east of Melton Mowbray, on its other line between Leicester and Peterborough).

The brick-built main station buildings at Plumtree and Widmerpool were on the Up platform and of identical style and both survive today as restaurants, although those at Widmerpool are much altered. The Down platforms had a smaller waiting room. Edwalton had brick-built buildings but of smaller dimensions, the Up side building being very similar to that now at Butterley Station at the Midland Railway Centre, and again was the larger of the two.

Upper Broughton had its main buildings on the roadside above the station and these survive intact today. The station itself had smaller brick-built shelters on both platforms, the larger of the two being on the Up side.

The main buildings at Old Dalby and Grimston were also on the Up platforms but were completely different, being built of timber in a style reminiscent of LNWR buildings, with small timber waiting shelters on the Down side.

The goods sheds at Plumtree and Edwalton were substantial brick buildings whilst those at Widmerpool, Old Dalby and Grimston were of timber construction. All except Edwalton and Grimston survived until the 1980s but the recent Alstom upgrade of the line resulted in the demolition of the timber shed at Widmerpool. At Plumtree the goods shed has recently been renovated and turned into a function hall. A pre-fabricated provender store also survived until the recent changes to the former goods shed. These were a common sight on British Railways in the 40's and 50's, the concrete supports for one could be seen at Widmerpool until cleared along with the goods shed.

The timber-built goods shed at Grimston was demolished along with the station buildings in 1978. Upper Broughton had no goods facilities, these being handled by Old Dalby.

There were also five tunnels on the line at Stanton (1330 yards long), Grimston (1305 yards), Grimston Covered Way (100 yards long and sometimes known as Saxelby Covered Way), Saxelby (543 yards) and Asfordby (419 yards), although the latter was not on the main running part of the test track.

Stanton sign

A remarkable survivor, this is the only known original Midland Railway sign for Stanton Tunnel.

Author's Collection

Stanton Tunnel was completed in 1879 whilst Grimston and Saxelby bear the date 1878 above the portals. Although Stanton has a keystone with 'MR 1879 ', Grimston has the Midland Railway emblem of a carved stone Wyvern and the date in Roman numerals 'MDCCCLXXVIII' beneath it. In a similar way to Stanton, Saxelby tunnel has 'MR 1878 '.

Grimston Tunnel

The Midland Railway emblem of the Wyvern with the build date in Roman numerals adorns the southern portal of Grimston tunnel.

Grimston underbridge

Most of the bridges are original Midland Railway; the underbridge at Grimston still has the original pattern cast iron balustrades, although two similar ones north of Plumtree have been 'modernised' with steel meshing.

Old Dalby Station Bridge

The underbridge at Old Dalby over the B676 road, has the Up side parapet built higher than the other following an accident in the blackout during the last war. When a very long troop train stopped with the rear coaches off the end of the platforms an unfortunate soldier mistook the top of the original parapet for the platform and fell to his death on the roadway below. (Author's Collection)

When the line was built, the underbridge south of Widmerpool was designed on the skew to preserve the line of the Roman Fosse Way such that when the A46 road was widened and improved in the 1960's, it did not need to be replaced.

However, a new underbridge at Lings Bar was built in the early 1980's at the northern end of the line when the A52 (T) Nottingham outer ring road was linked to the A606. An attempt to shorten the line at this point was resisted.

Here are some pictures of the stations as they were.

Click on the picture for a bigger image


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Edwalton Station pictured in the summer of 1949 looking towards Nottingham. This part of the route was not included in the test track plans and now has an up-market housing development built on the site. The access road, 'Edwalton Lodge Close'  runs along the old track bed from its junction with the A606 just north of the old railway bridge. 

Doug Thompson



The Up platform building at Plumtree Station pictured round 1910  The scene today is very similar the tastefully restored station buildings now housing a popular pub and restaurant with a conservatory projecting onto the old platform.

Lens of Sutton.


Widmerpool Station Up platform building pictured in 1963. This building was subsequently converted into a pub when the line was still open but with little sympathy for its railway origins. Called rather inappropriately 'The Schooner Inn' the author remembers visiting it as a youth. It has since been further built upon and is now called 'The Pullman Inn'  but after changing hands a number of times in the recent past it closed in early 2010.  The 115 Milepost was preserved in its original position next to the bar. The original Down platform waiting shelter survives and until the recent upgrade was used as a store/laboratory and is probably the only remaining untouched Midland Railway building on the line, although it is falling into disrepair now.  


Upper Broughton

Upper Broughton Station circa 1948 looking south with a milk churn awaiting collection on the Up platform. Although closed over 50 years ago the approach path can still be made out today (just) as can the foundations of the Down side platform. The roadside station buildings remain and belong to the owners of the old stationmaster's house. Although it is now a private residence the house was derelict little more than 20 years ago. 


Old Dalby
Old Dalby Station looking north and pictured around 1966. The old Down platform foundations still exist today as does the formation of the Army Ordnance Depot exchange sidings but all other traces have gone. The original Stationmaster's house survives on the roadside below as a private residence, along with the weighbridge, which is used as a domestic garage.


Grimston GRIM-SIGN.jpg (13033 bytes)

The Down platform at Grimston Station pictured circa 1910 and thought to be an official MR photograph. The Midland liked to record its network and around this time a number of photographs of stations and structures were taken. Although this platform has vanished without trace the Up platform remained complete with original iron railings until the recent electrification  upgrade. The former station house on the Up side of the line is now a private residence.

Lens of Sutton

Melton Junction

A Peterborough-bound train passes over Melton Junction in the summer of 1956. The original line to Nottingham (now the test track) goes off to the right at this point. The access line to the test track is now a single-track lead and the Melton Junction ground frame is situated where the signal box used to be. The land alongside the railway in this view is now grossly overgrown, as most of Network Rail's infrastructure is today.

John Oxley

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